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Meet Eric Mark: Director of Rhombus International Hotels Group

Vancouverite Eric Mak spent a decade building his experience at some of the world’s biggest hotel brands, from Marriott to Four Seasons. Two years ago, he stepped in as Director at Rhombus International Hotels Group – the company his father founded – to help replicate and surpass the successes of Hotel Panorama by Rhombus and Hotel LKF by Rhombus..

 

I wanted to be an ice hockey player when I was younger. Growing up in Canada where it’s the national sport, there’s no way to avoid it. It’s either that or ice skating!

My father immigrated to Vancouver over 45 years ago. He used to take my brother and I to the hotels where he was working and put us in a suite – we basically experienced the hotel industry as we grew up.

My start in hospitality was at a fast-food restaurant in Vancouver’s airport. When I was 16, I worked at Ramada Hotel as a front desk agent; I would do part-time jobs on weekends and during summer breaks. I’ve worked in front office, housekeeping, and as a waiter – all the front line positions.

I did finance for three years but didn’t like it. Finance is important, but it’s very different from the hospitality industry where things change every day. You have different people coming in and out all the time and new things happening every day, so there are always crazy stories to tell.

I knew I wanted to do something in Asia. During one of my trips to Hong Kong, a recruiter called me with a position in mind – it was for IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) in China. So I said “let’s have a talk”, and three months later I packed my bags and moved. That was a turning point in my career for me.

After my time in Zhongshan, family business brought me back to Hong Kong. My father called me and said “we want you to come back to Hong Kong, have a look at the business, and see what you can contribute and see how you can take it to the next level”.

I always say there are no bad teams, just bad leaders. It just depends on how the leader engages and drives a team. I’ve been lucky to work with great leaders, those who really develop a team.

Nowadays it’s not so much about knocking on every single door possible – it’s knocking on the right doors, as we always choose projects we believe in.

I plan to stay in Asia for the foreseeable future. This is where the growth and development is, and it’s not just about the business opportunities but also about where you can make more of a difference in people’s lives.

After work, I usually spend time at home with family. We still have dim sum every Sunday with my parents.

When visiting the city, don’t forget about the culture here, where Hong Kong came from – that’s what I tell visitors. Even though there’s so much to do in this city, there’s a lot you can learn from the city’s history, pre and post the British handover. A tip to travellers is to make the most of the MTR stations; the signage there is really useful, pointing out the nearest attractions.

I don’t think I could live without Chinese food. I grew up with it. Even when I travel abroad, I always have to find a Chinese restaurant somewhere whether it’s good or bad!

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