11 Oct Behind the scenes: interview with our Assistant Director of Operations, Eleni
Eleni joined the City Relay team seven months ago as a Client Account Manager, taking care of our hosts. Recently, she was promoted to the Assistant Director of Operations.
Lukáš: First of all, I would like to thank you for taking the time for the interview today!
Eleni: Oh, you’re very welcome Lukas, the pleasure is all mine!
Lukáš: So, could you tell us more about your background?
Eleni: I’m originally from Athens, Greece, where I gained my first experience working in the hospitality industry. My first role working in customer service was as an intern at the 2004 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Athens. My first hotel experience was at the Grecotel Eva Palace, a 5-star hotel in Corfu, where I spent 5 challenging but fantastic years as a Guest Relations Manager. Some of my main duties were to make sure that our guests would have an unforgettable holiday. Many of our guests were celebrating their anniversary or were enjoying their honeymoon. That was the part of my job I really enjoyed. Of course, there were times I had to deal with complaints as well, but what can you do, this is hospitality! Five years later, I was ready to experience something new. This was when I was contacted by My Hotels in London, who offered me the position of Guest Services Manager across several of their properties in London and Brighton. After another 5 years at My Hotels, I decided that it was time to try something new. I took up the role of Operations Manager after the launch of The Pilgrim Hotel, also part of the My Hotels group.
Lukáš: Now when we made it to London, how did you discover City Relay in the first place?
Eleni: I had come to a point in my life where I was looking for a new adventure. I was going through Linkedin jobs when I saw the advert for City Relay. The idea of working at a vacation rental company really engaged me as it was something different to what I had previously been doing but at the same time still in the hospitality industry. Back then I also had an interview with another vacation rental company in London but it was the interview at City Relay that struck my heart. I was interviewed by Anna the HR manager and Olivia, the previous client account manager. I was so excited about the idea of working in such a warm and friendly environment. I have never looked back and I am so pleased to be working at City Relay!
Lukáš: Why did you decide to join the team?
Eleni: The atmosphere was one of the biggest factors that affected my decision. In addition, I was highly interested in working for a startup and “help the baby grow”. During my second interview, I had the chance to meet Maxime (CEO). He shared his vision with me and the growth plans for the company, I was really impressed. Maxime is an incredibly inspiring person and I feel so fortunate to have him as a CEO.
Lukáš: How different is your new role at City Relay compared to the previous one?
Eleni: It’s very different! Both positions turned out to be very challenging! As a Client Account Manager, I was in direct contact with our landlords on a daily basis. I had to deal and negotiate with them through the phone and deal with their expectations. Now, being the Assistant Director of Operations, I moved to the other side of the business as I’m responsible for the overall service that we deliver outside in the field every day.
Lukáš: What are the fundamental skills to work in Operations?
Eleni: Well, I think one of the most fundamental skills is the ability to think on your feet. In this position, it is very important to make quick, effective decisions and to have the ability to provide solutions straight away. As we have different departments in operations, maintenance, housekeeping, guest services etc it’s vital that the decision is the right one across the board. Each of the departments are directly linked, for example, a decision that you make for housekeeping might delay the maintenance or the guest services. This leads us to another skill, which is being proactive and organising the coming days as effectively as possible by considering any unforeseen circumstances that might come up.
Lukáš: What do you enjoy the most about working at City Relay?
Eleni: The atmosphere! This is very important to me. After all, you spend eight if not even more hours a day in the office every day. I don’t think I would be able to do operations if I was not enjoying my daily workload. We support each other! Nobody blames others for making mistakes, quite the opposite. We work as a team! We support each other, and especially in operations it’s very important that we feel comfortable like a small family. Lately, we’ve been trying to implement having lunch all together to boost the team spirit!
Lukáš: Name one thing you would make compulsory in the office.
Eleni: (She laughs) Well, I’d make a rule that everybody wash their mug after they have used it!
Lukáš: Interns make a significant workforce in City Relay. What do you expect from them and what is your decision based on when hiring new interns?
Eleni: For me, they are the heart of the whole company! Their drive, their passion and ideas are key to pushing City Relay forward. Therefore, that’s also what we’re looking for when hiring our new interns. They need to be creative, have their own ideas and the more passionate they are about them, the better! We understand that everybody has to start somewhere.
Lukáš: How do you start off your day? Do you have any morning rituals?
Eleni: Yes, I do! Every morning, before I sit down in the office and start working, I must have a piece of chocolate and a coffee in order to prepare for the day! After this, the operations team have our short morning meeting, where we discuss all the good news, emergencies or complaints that occurred during the previous shift and need to be prioritized. After this morning, we start dispatching the works for that day.
Lukáš: I can’t move to the next question without saying, that everyone at our Portobello Headquarters misses very much your “Hello lovely people!” every morning, which always made us smile and filled the room with positive energy…
Eleni: (She laughs again) That comes with me all the way back to when I worked in Grecotel in Greece. I always greeted everyone “Kalimera, everyone!” so I had to think of an English version before I moved to London!
Lukáš: Outside of workspace, what does your ideal day look like?
Eleni: My job takes a lot of energy so in my spare time I like to take a rest and escape from the world with my favourite crime novels or series. I also like to spend the evenings by cooking and dining with my partner and I love walking around London together. We regularly stroll down to the riverside, relaxing whilst watching the boats pass by. I think the Southbank is our favourite place.
Lukáš: What is your favourite movie and why?
Eleni: This one’s easy! Mary Poppins! I used to watch this movie all the time when I was small. However, maybe I appreciate her powers even more today. She makes things happen just with a snap of her fingers and that’s something we could definitely use in Operations! And she always looks so fresh, cute and smiley! The main virtues of working in hospitality!
Lukáš: What is your favourite holiday destination?
Eleni: It’s actually Greece! Since I’ve lived abroad for some time, I like to go back home every time I have the chance. I’ve become a tourist in my own country!
Lukáš: Which brings us to the last question. What 3 places would you recommend us to visit in Greece?
Eleni: I would recommend the whole of Greece since it has something for everyone! Whether you are looking to relax on a sandy beach, explore the cultural heritage or hike in the mountains, you can do it all in Greece! For example, my favourite spot in the winter is a place called Epiros. In Epiros, you’ll find the majestic Vikos Gorge and little villages called Zagorohoria. It’s my own little paradise! For the seaside, I would have to say Corfu out of all 6000 islands just because I lived there 5 wonderful years and I made some amazing memories with great friends.
We hope that you enjoyed this interview with our Assistant Director of Operations! Stay tuned for the next interview with another key member of the City Relay team!