In our latest Portico People Blog Series, we spoke with Joanne Phiri, Regional Client Support Host at Portico.
Joanne joined us a year ago and has hit the ground running ever since, looking after three client locations outer London. Before joining Portico, Joanne studied Hospitality Management at University and has previous experience working in the hotel industry.
In our interview with Joanne, she discusses his career history, experiences, and the future of hospitality.
1. What does your role entail?
I joined Portico a year ago on Portico’s NatWest account as the regional client support host. I look after three offices in the outer London area. They are smaller offices, and I am the main point of contact for all three of them. I regularly complete health and safety checks and I am the person responsible for making sure the office is maintained to a high standard for the staff that operate in there. I work closely with the facilities manager at each location as well.
2. Tell us a bit more about your career history.
I studied hospitality management at university because I have always had a passion for the industry since I got my first part time job in hospitality. I worked in hotels as operational roles for around two and a half years, gaining experience and plenty of transferable skills.
I was transferred to a different location during the pandemic and worked in a hotel that was solely hosting key workers at the time. This brought a whole new level of “guest experience” to my work as these doctors and nurses were extremely stressed and mainly just wanted a bed and to be left alone. Being able to adapt my skill set to a softer, more sensitive approach to deliver to their needs was extremely rewarding.
3. What do you most like about your job?
I love how each day is different. I know it’s a bit of a cliché, but it is really like that. There is always a different challenge or need from the employees at my offices that needs to be overcome or delivered on. I get to meet new people at my sites as well as the sites I visit for learning and development which is also great.
I love the support I am given here at Portico. It’s hugely comforting knowing I can always call someone from the wider team, and they are happy to help. My line manager has been amazing, and the people management here makes it so easy to have direct contact with who you need to speak to.
4. What are the challenges you face in your role?
Since the pandemic, even as we recover, the office is notably quieter. There are still a lot of people choosing to work from home, and only come into the office once or twice a week. There are many things that we want to do to change and innovate the office, but can’t because the team isn’t there.
5. What has been your biggest highlight at Portico?
My biggest highlight so far has been transforming the offices I work with. From when I started up to now, we have been able to implement changes that elevate standards and makes it more comfortable for employees. Being able to visibly see the transformation of the space has been really satisfying as well as seeing the staff enjoy it too.
6. How do you see the future of the workplace changing?
am sure that hybrid work is here to stay for the foreseeable future. We have a lot of creative ideas for the office and how to make it more inviting, but if the people aren’t there then it unfortunately impacts what we can do. We can only work with what we have. The future is making the office a place people want to come and spend their day due to the benefits it offers them in terms of work, and just a general desire to be in the space.
7. What are the key ingredients to premium guest experience?
Taking the time to get to know clients and build relationships. You can understand needs much better when you take the time to get to know people as individuals. In this line of work it is so important to listen attentively and have empathy. You should always approach situations with a pleasant attitude, and when you have a passion for helping people, that becomes easy.
8. What would your advice be for somebody considering a career in guest services?
You need passion and a drive for service and helping people. Guest services has some really exciting career opportunities with plenty of different avenues you can explore within it, so my advice would be to go for it.
9. What are your top tips for happiness and wellbeing in the workplace?
It is so important to engage, interact and connect with people, even if it is just one other person. We all need a support system at the end of the day. If you have an issue, ask for help and support when you need it rather than suffering in silence. Being transparent about how you feel is key for having good wellbeing in the workplace.
Choose a final question:
10. What’s on your bucket list?
Bungee jumping! The thrill and adrenaline sound’s amazing, I would love to do it one day.