Straightforward and assertive, Sharon Borg, Housekeeping Manager at Marina Hotel, St Julians, shared with Insider Plus her determination, diligence and passion in her work.
“I am always here at 6.00 am. I know it’s early, but I prefer to look around and see what is required, how I will distribute the work, focus on what is to be done and walk around the hotel without human traffic, so I can discern and decide better. My colleagues join me at 8.00 am, and by then, the work assigned to each is well established.”
Sharon certainly does not shy away from work pressure. “I will do whatever is required in case of need or emergency. When there were unforeseen circumstances, I joined my colleagues and helped them clean the rooms and do what was needed.” That is her!
But what are the primary duties of a Housekeeping Manager? “I distribute the work amongst the room attendants and allot work for the public area. Then I establish rosters and focus on targets whilst improving scores. I see to the cleanliness of the whole hotel and teach and guide all my team members whilst always aiming at better results. When an event is scheduled, I organise my team to clean the area well on time.” She stopped briefly and added, “That is not all, but it gives you a general idea.”
I noted that she seems determined not to leave her tasks undone. “I am very conscientious in my work and try my utmost to be as complete as possible.”
But does she train her staff in-house? “Yes. My supervisors and I see to all on-the-job training. We are now facing a new phenomenon, a language problem with several of our staff whose English is very limited.”
So how do you solve this? “We train on-site in the room itself, and they visually follow how to perform the job efficiently, so they become aware of what is to be done. A perfect way how to lead by example.”
What caused this surge in the language problem? “It is not easy, or should I say, almost impossible, to find Maltese interested in joining us for this work. Circumstances have forced this hospitality industry to sometimes engage foreign personnel with minimal knowledge of English.”
“I believe that whenever necessary, I, too, roll my sleeves and get on with it. One time we had many departures at one go which were being replaced by an equally large number of arrivals. I, too, helped clean rooms and help do what was required to meet the challenge. I could see that my colleagues appreciated it and made an even stronger effort. We managed in good time.”
How did Sharon rise to this position? “It was dedication and hard work moving up the ladder. I started as a telephone operator, then moved to Reception, followed by Housekeeping Co-ordinator, then Housekeeping Supervisor, then Assistant Manager, and now I am Head of the Department. I must add, and I say this with pride, that for a time, I also offered maid service.” I could see that pride on her face.
“I started working with Radisson Golden Sands, then moved on to a hotel which was not part of the Corinthia group, but returned to Corinthia in December 2021 in this post as a Housekeeping Manager.”
What made her rejoin Corinthia? “A friend informed me that Corinthia had an opening for this post. I was so excited to be able to return that I applied without loss of time. Immediately after my interview, I was informed I could attend work on the morrow. I confess I was deeply moved.”
Sharon is blessed with excellent traits in her character. Very outgoing and uncomplicated, she also admitted that she does not object to assuming some additional tasks when required. She speaks, thinks fast and is easy to work with. “I try my utmost to understand and empathise with every other person. I try to know the background of my team members so that I can be aware of their difficulties, problems and needs. Many experience a culture shock when faced with a new country, novel job, and new social challenges. They need to work to assist their families abroad financially.”
But was she a perfectionist? “ I do not love pointing out mistakes, but I love to meet the minds of my colleagues and share my knowledge and experience to assist them.” Was she an optimist? “I would not call myself an optimist; perhaps I am more of a realist.”
And what rubs her the wrong way? “Undoubtedly, I cannot stand lying. I prefer others to give me the bad news than lie to cover up. Additionally, stealing is certainly a no-go area, especially in this world of hospitality.”
I asked Sharon if she recalled a funny incident. After a few seconds of recollection, she laughed loudly. “Years ago, when I worked at the Front Office, taking details of a gentleman who was checking in, he said he came from Austral. He commented that he was sure I did not know where that was. He was surprised to hear me say it was in New South Wales, Australia. He was even more surprised when I informed him that I had lived in Austral for six months and told him the name of the road I lived in. He was dumbfounded. He lived in that same street. We found out he was working with a cousin of mine, so he came over to my house and took some photos of my family, including my grandmother. He then told my cousin that he had met an elderly lady in Malta who had fallen for him and wanted to bequeath all her belongings to him. My cousin was curious to see who this lady was, at which point he was shown my family photo. My cousin immediately recognised the family, and we all had a good laugh.”
And did she recall any unfriendly guest? Sharon was initially at great pains to remember and insisted that all guests have their bright side. Then she remembered a nasty incident. “ Years ago, a gentleman was checking in, and since a new part of the hotel had just been opened, we offered him an upgrade and an excellent price. He was all praise and appreciative. He returned to Malta later and expected to be allocated in the same suite. We informed him that it was then occupied, but it would be available in a couple of days. He then insisted it had to be offered at the same reduced payment. I naturally gently and politely declined, at which point he turned nasty and shouted insults and offence. He was so rude that he had to be asked to leave the hotel, which he did after another spate of insults.”
Indeed, Sharon looked forward to relaxing after a long day’s work. “I have a 19-year-old son, Jamie, who works in the construction industry. I dote on him, and I always look forward to sharing some good times with him.
“I also have a seven-year-old Labrador named Bubble, who is always so excited to welcome me when I arrive.
And I must not forget to name my seven-year-old parrot Oscar who, too, calls my name and welcomes me warmly when I arrive. I adopted the Labrador when she was six months old—she’ ‘s like my baby. I got my parrot from Holland. He now speaks in Maltese and English, but he does not fail to say words in Dutch when he thinks he is alone.”
I suspected that Sharon would love sitting and lazying on her sofa. Nothing could be farther from the truth! “I love trekking. I would go out alone for hours, though I always inform my son, Jamie, where I am going. I have also trekked abroad with a group. The last time we trekked Mont Blanc, we walked 27 km to 30 km a day.”
That was tough, and I thought that was enough. No way! Sharon added that she also practices abseiling, canoeing and swimming.
In the end, I was feeling exhausted. Surely, she must have more relaxing hobbies! “I paint cartoon murals in schools, and I also paint on wood.”
That is Sharon Borg. She gives her all at work and then still gives her all to relax.