The women of Accor
Sunny Goo | Grand Mercure Queen Street
I was always keen for an adventure since I was a little girl. Without even knowing where New Zealand was, as a young teenager I took the first opportunity to move countries and came to live in a small town near the Waikato River as an international student. From that point on, life has been an interesting journey to where I am now.
I started my career working as all-rounder in the F&B department as attendant, as well as a cleaner.
On my days off, I requested to learn reservations, which opened up an opportunity for me to move into the Reservations Team. I was fortunate to experience RWC2011 as Revenue Manager and joined Accor in November 2011 as Front Office Manager at Mercure Auckland under Ed (Now Grand Mercure).
I had a short secondment in Dunedin as Hotel Manager, moving from there to join Paul and the NAA team for three years. I was then off to Sofitel Fiji, working through renovation with Vincent. All these positions offered me wonderful opportunities to extend myself, grow, and learn under outstanding General Managers. I am very grateful for their guidance and advice.
Finally, after four tropical years in Fiji, in March 2020, with lockdown started in NZ, I returned to Auckland to be with my family. During this time, an opportunity came up as pre-opening GM at Mercure Auckland and I also gave birth to my son Charlie during this transition.
It has been a wonderful, challenging and rewarding experience managing this project but we made it! I look forward to my future with Accor.
Michelle Spinks | Peppers Clearwater
Michelle Spinks is the Resort Manager at Peppers Clearwater, Christchurch. Michelle has been with Accor for the past 9 years, where she was most recently General Manager at Mantra PortSea in Port Douglas and prior to that General Manager of Mantra Frangipani in Broome.
Originally from New Zealand, Michelle returned home in December 2020 and took up the role of Resort Manager at the newly refurbished, Peppers Clearwater. Michelle has been in the Hotel industry for 25 years, her drive for self-development and willingness to embrace new challenges has provided a strong foundation as she has transitioned into her new role and life back in New Zealand.
Gillian Millar | Senior Vice President Operations, Accor New Zealand, Fiji & French Polynesia
The first Female Vice President of Operations for AccorHotels Pacific. Gillian’s broad management and leadership experience within the hotel industry provides her with a vast and diverse skill-set that would assist any Owner, Chain, Business or Group.
An expert in change management, hotel refurbishment, project management, pre-opening/opening of properties coupled with her vast operational knowledge, Gillian’s business acumen is sound. A high achiever; with a proven track record that has the capability to achieve financial targets with a strong balance of respecting the Brand and its standards whilst delivering high guest satisfaction. A well-rounded leader that engages with all stake-holders, has strong representativeness, ability to create strategies, constantly strives for continual improvement and motivates teams and individuals to succeed.
Jo Finnigan | Hotel St Moritz Queenstown - MGallery
My journey to becoming a GM was somewhat through osmosis! I began my hotel career back in 2001 having spent almost a decade in commercial real estate in Auckland, Sydney and Wellington. I had fallen for a gorgeous guy who lived in Queenstown, and so off I went to live in the mountains & marry my snowboard instructor!
A career in hotels began the instant I walked into the lobby at ‘St Moritz Novotel Suites’ – little did I know that my initial role as Sales & Marketing Assistant would lead to 14 years+ (eventually Director of Sales, Distribution and Marketing), and becoming 2-i-c to the then General Manager. At that time, my GM and I worked for years in close collaboration (and whilst having our families), and that’s where the osmosis happened.
When the opportunity arose to step into the GM role it was under most unfortunate of circumstances – I felt a real clarity that continuity for all of our team was paramount, and that I was ready to lead. I still love the diversity of ‘General Managing’, no day is ever the same!
The Hotel industry has afforded me a diverse career On both sides of the Tasman . Sydney born and raised I worked for IHG for ten years in Sydney and then crossed the ditch to join Accor with Sofitel Queenstown .
I have been fortunate to work across Most operational departments and moved into my first executive housekeepers role when I was 24 years old. I had always considered myself a career executive housekeeper until arriving at the Sofitel Queenstown in 2010 .
There I was so lucky to work with an amazing mentor Vincent Macquet who believed I was capable of more , moving into rooms div and then ops manager for Sofitel Queenstown. After 5 years with Vincent I was given the opportunity for my first General Manager role at Mercure Queenstown resort and now hotel manager at ibis Christchurch .
I have 3 children 11, 12 and 15 and the organization that goes into running a household and hotel operations are not to dissimilar. I believe if your organized you can do anything!
True success comes from a strong loyal team behind you and been ready to catch the curve balls. No 2 days are the same in hotels and this is what I get the biggest kick out of .