My world was so small. Getting out and having these new experiences has broadened my view.

I was away from the hospitality industry for almost 4 years. Things were tough during Covid. I also misread the signs. I thought when times were tough and business was selling cheap was when it was best to buy – so I bought a business during the most difficult time thinking if not now, then when? I might have to wait a long time for such an opportunity to come along, and I didn't want to wait. But after 7 months of carrying the cost of the new business along with my original one with hardly any income, I had to let the new business go, and lost all of my initial investment.

Cutting the loss, losing my ego – and feeling much lighter.

I then entered the tech industry with very limited knowledge. I was appointed to run one of the startups funded by a Real Estate PLC in Thailand. I learned so much, and had to learn fast. It took a while to adjust to the new environment and exactly three months before I could sleep properly again.

After the project was wrapped up, I moved to become head at a tech company with a bigger role and more responsibilities. But now that I’ve said goodbye to tech and come back to the 'people' business, here are the things I have seen and wanted to share:

Tech moves fast – and so does talent

New languages, new tools, and new frameworks are being developed rapidly. A good workforce needs to develop talent that can cater to the market needs. You wouldn't see someone who coded the same language for the past 20 years still doing the same job. If someone doesn't want to learn new tech, they will lose their job. If a company doesn't want to offer new solutions they will find it hard to remain successful.

In hotels, a doorman can do the same job for 20 years and we call that 'loyalty'. Some of us travel to that one particular hotel every month or every year not just for holidays but also to see our 'bartender friend’ or our 'doorman friend’.

The question I want to ask here is should our bartender friend or our doorman friend acquire other skills and move up the corporate ladder? Should it be a requirement that you need new skills to stay in a job? Or do we stick with ‘if it’s not broken don’t fix it?’

Technological glitches are always human error

One of the largest data breaches in history was Equifax in 2017, affecting 147 million people. The breach occurred because a critical vulnerability in the Apache Struts web-application software was not patched, even though a fix was available. This oversight allowed hackers to access sensitive personal data, including social security numbers and birth dates. Or the data breach in 2018 during the merger between Starwood and Marriott. That breach began in 2014 and went undetected for years, partly due to failures in due diligence and monitoring, highlighting issues of human oversight and error in integrating and securing IT systems.

From my own experience, it’s almost always happening that one or more of the people involved aren’t careful enough, work on an unsecure or unauthorized device, or simply ‘forget’ to change passwords or close the laptop.

Even in the tech industry with all its automation, humans make mistakes. So how can an industry that is operated almost exclusively by humans avoid mistakes? Or how can we do better to minimize our mistakes.


In hotels, when you want to open a bar or hotel, you go to a consultancy firm and pay for research or a feasibility study – or better yet go to four of them just to be sure. The truth is, a lot of the data come from the same sources, so you end up with a confirmation bias. Then if something shows up in all four of those reports then it must be true.

In tech or startups, we do a workshop first to better understand what it really is that you want to do, and what problems you are trying to solve.

I was recently involved in an exciting new startup project. I came up with an idea of what I wanted to do, but after a few sessions of brainstorming the initial idea had evolved into something else. The problem we wanted to solve remained the same, but the product had just got a whole lot better.

I have seen hotels invest in a bar or restaurant that I knew couldn’t possibly make money, and after they hired a PR agency with lots of superstars – still nothing. Yet management think they still haven’t tried everything. Maybe flying in a celebrity chef or a famous mixologist would save their bonus. In the end, the only thing they haven’t tried is to change it into something that would work.

Tech people don’t talk so much about AI, unlike hoteliers

AI won’t take your job, period. It might help you do your job better. If you’re in marketing, a lot of your content writing could be outsourced to AI. If you’re in a kitchen, AI can help you with waste management. If you’re anyone at all who wants to learn something new, AI can do that faster than Google could.

I asked Chat GPT – a paid version – to help me with some SWOT analysis. Admittedly it did a good job, but it still lacked a lot of information and insight. I used its findings and analysis as a base, but eventually I still had to do my job.

We are afraid of what we don’t understand. Investing in a short AI course to get some basic knowledge is one suggestion. Or simply ask AI about AI.

Ultimately, what I have learned is that there are things outside of hotels that I didn’t know. My world was so small. Getting out and having these new experiences has broadened my view. I’m not saying that you should take a painful path like I did, but every now and then, talk to people from a different industry, attend events hosted by experts from other fields. You can’t solve problems with the same old methods; Einstein said it’s crazy to do that. Instead, find time to expand your horizons – it might do you more good than you ever expected.