Before working in sales, Jenci Declerck has worked for several years in the food & beverage industry. Following a hospitality, school instilled his passion for restaurants and hotels, with a focus on serving customers. Today he works in sales, but his ultimate goal is to become a General Manager, ideally for an international luxury hotel. He shares with us his passion for tourism, sales and traveling, giving some insights for anyone interested on a career like his. Finding a mentor and finding your own purpose is a crucial thing for a happy and fulfilled life.
What is your prior experience in the hospitality industry?
Before working in sales, I have worked for several years in the food & beverage industry, as well as front desk through internships and short-term contracts. Initially, when I was 12 years old, I wanted to become a Chef. That was the main reason I went to hospitality school at the age of 14; to learn how to cook and manage a kitchen crew. At that time, I had no idea I would work in sales one day.
My family always respected my choices and supported me a lot; they just wanted me to be happy and successful in life.
I am very grateful for the freedom they gave me in terms of study choices; I disagree when I hear parents forcing their kids to do studies they are not really into, often for their own image and status. I am convinced it creates the wrong outcome and reduces the possibility for kids to be at their best in whatever they want to be.
What are the challenges you have faced throughout your journey?
Leaving home as a 14 years old kid to go on boarding school was quite hard, especially as an only child very close to their mom. The first year was very tough; I did not have many friends, was struggling with my sexuality, and missed my family. On top of that, I actually did not really like the “cooking” classes and especially the kitchen atmosphere, but showed more interest in the service part of the restaurant business. The three other years were much more productive and reinforced my passion for restaurants and hotels, with a focus on serving customers. Later, during High School, I also faced difficulties with my level of English, which was not good at that time. That is why I later decided to study four months in Vancouver, which helped me a lot in improving and practicing the language.
How do you balance work and life?
I travel a lot, and when I am not traveling, I like to cook or decorate my home. I also love to dine out, with friends or family. I actually do not mind traveling alone; it allows me to reflect, giving me positive energy and makes me enjoy the smallest things. Since I see work more as a hobby than a “job”, it is honestly sometimes hard for me to disconnect, but leaving the country helps me a lot to forget about emails and to-do lists. I also try to travel at least once a month to Belgium, my home country, to see my family and friends.
What advice would you give to those who want to have a great career like yourself?
Firstly, pursue your own dreams and never give up. Secondly, find a mentor. Finding the right mentor will help you better understand the path you need to cross and the things you need to undertake to reach your goals. Even better if the mentor has a similar career to the one you aspire to achieve. Having a mentor will also inspire you to become a leader yourself and coach others to become like you. Furthermore, you need to ask yourself the right questions, to make sure that what you are doing suits what you are aiming for. I also believe that anyone can achieve anything whilst remaining focused and bringing together all possible efforts.
What are your goals and plans for the future?
My ultimate goal is to become a General Manager, ideally for an international luxury hotel. For now, I am enjoying my experience in sales and would like to continue growing and learning from my leaders while developing my client portfolio. On a personal level, I would like to live in several countries to expose myself to different cultures and learn more languages. If through all of this I can also find the right husband, that would be nice too (laughing).