SkyCity Hotels Group


Extraordinary People

We take a deeper look into the people who make our business and our industry great! 

A diverse workforce has a range of positive benefits for our people and our business such as increased productivity, improved creativity, increased profits, improved employee engagement, reduced employee turnover, improved company reputation, Wider range of skills, improves cultural insights.

Keep an eye out each month to learn more about what makes our people extraordinary, what they love about their workplace and why they chose the industry and much more.


Ruth Ruddock

Ruth Ruddock Guest Relations Executive The Grand by SkyCity

What made you want to get into hospitality/tourism?

I didn’t initially plan on working in tourism, I started working at The Grand as a casual porter while studying Criminology and fell in love with the industry. I quickly decided that I would pursue a career in hotels while I finished my degree and have been here since.

What’s on your playlist?

My playlist has a big mix of genres and eras from Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran to Dusty Springfield and Johnny Cash. I also am a big podcast listener.

What’s this year taught/teaching you?

This year so far has taught me that versatility is key, it has been very satisfying developing skills outside of my usual scope and broadening my industry knowledge.

What is a common misconception about hospitality/tourism/your role?

A common misconception in hospitality and tourism in New Zealand is that it is a job for students while they study. However, I think as we continue to showcase what working in hospitality and tourism looks like, and the progression and development available we can turn that idea around.

What’s your favourite quote?

"What's past is prologue” - William Shakespeare, The Tempest

Who is your idol?

My brother and sister-in-law. They have been my role models since I was kid.

What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?

I spent a week at Telford Farm, learning some farm basics like shearing sheep and milking cows.

If money was no option, what is the first thing you would do?

Travel, I have visited about 24 countries and would want to keep growing that list.

Fave Kiwi spots to visit?

Mangawhai Heads is my top stop, I have spent most summers there for the last 15 years. Whangamatā, Queenstown and Waiheke are also amongst my favourites.

What do you think is missing from the industry?

More women in leadership, we are very lucky at SkyCity to have Winning Women, and many other great initiatives geared to support woman in leadership. It would be great to see this support and representation industry-wide.


Chansy Rey

Chansy Rey Senior Sales Executive

What is a common misconception about position?

That it's all glamourous with travel and entertaining.  Not the case. It's just an added bonus at times.

What's the best advice you were ever given? Who was it from? 

"If you had to choose between being kind and being right.  Choose being kind and you will always be right" given to me by my Nana.

What do you think is missing from the hotel industry?

I think connection is missing from hotels. Hotels are always looking at new technologies to improve services.  Technology is great but it can take away the connection between staff and guests.

Cityscape or Harbour view?

Harbour view of course!

Who is your idol?

My Nana Em.

What's something many people don't know about you?

I was born in a refugee camp and don't have a birth certificate.

What three things make a hotel extraordinary?

  1. Creating extraordinary experiences for your guest.
  2. Genuine customer service.  Understanding and fulling guest needs and expectations.
  3. Small added amenities/touches

If someone was visiting Auckland what would be the number one thing you'd suggest doing?

Take a drive out west to Piha and do one of the hikes or walks.  Nothing like being outdoors and taking in New Zealand's beautiful nature.

Who would play you in a movie about your life?

Jeannie Mai

If your hotel was a famous person who would they be?

Elon Musk – The Grand by SkyCity


William Surya

William Surya Rooms Division Manager SkyCity Hotel

What made you want to get into hospitality/tourism?

It was my parents’ choice at the start. They enrolled me into Hospitality Management School. And guess what, I loved it! This industry has taught me a lot, especially learning about multi-national culture.

What's on your playlist?

Classic RnB is definitely on the list along with Taylor Swift, Backstreet Boys, Spice Girls, Westlife, U2, Celine Dion and Boyzone followed by nice and relaxing Kenny G, Richard Clayderman and Buddhism Songs.

What's this year taught/teaching you?

Albert Einstein had taught and reminded me, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” Recently, the world has been overcome with unexpected challenges. Everyone needs to learn to live in a new norm, there’s simply no way out, therefore we cannot rush things.  When the time is right, it will happen.

What is a common misconception about hospitality/tourism/your role?

A common myth is that hospitality jobs are for the uneducated because it is an industry where humans interact the most.

In reality, good Hotel Management Schools include Business Communication, Geography, Accounting, Human Resource Management, Marketing, Events and Language Studies in their curriculum. Commonly like other industries, in hospitality and tourism there are stars and there are flops but that doesn’t mean the hotel industry is falling behind in terms of knowledge management.

What's your favourite quote?

"If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress. If you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come from, what you look like or who you love." – Barack Obama

Who is your idol?

Barack Obama, who inspires through strong leadership.

What's one thing most people don't know about you?

I jumped off the 233m Tower in Macau to propose my wife, thankfully she said YES.

If money was no option, what is the first thing you would do?

Regroup with my parents who are currently overseas and make them the happiest human beings, then working in Buddhism education to help those in need, with a reminder Buddhism is not a religion it’s a way of life.

Fave Kiwi spots to visit?

Taranaki, Piopio, Clevedon, the 328m – Sky Tower Auckland and everywhere in the Te Waipounamu (South Island).

What do you think is missing from the industry?

  1. Affordable transportation from town to town, which would make exploring the country easier and save on travelling time
  2. Technology investment and implementation
  3. Night entertainment options that would create more business

Rick Karsten

Rick Karsten Concierge The Grand by SkyCity

What made you want to get into hospitality/tourism?

After having worked at Holiday Parks in Europe, I was seeking a frontline role. I was really looking for a 5-star environment where you meet people from all over the world to assist them with any enquiries they might have.

What's on your playlist?

Mostly Drum and Bass now, as it motivates me to train and keep healthy.

What's this year taught/teaching you?

To think outside the box, assist your friends and family and look after your loved ones.

What is a common misconception about hospitality/tourism/your role?

That hospitality is just a steppingstone in New Zealand, not a career path. However, the opposite is true, as there are great hospitality professionals around the world that work in hotels and restaurants and can support their family. The Hospitality industry will never disappear because people love to travel especially to our beautiful Aotearoa.

What's your favourite quote?

With great sacrifice comes great reward. By Napoleon Hill.

Who is your idol?

My wife, she inspires me more than anyone.

What's one thing most people don't know about you?

I used to go camping with my family only 40 minutes from home, that’s where my love for the hospitality industry started - camping at “De Hoge Veluwe”.

If money was no option, what is the first thing you would do?

Fly home and see my family in Lent, The Netherlands.

Fave Kiwi spots to visit?

  • Waitākere Ranges– Arataki Visitor Centre has the most amazing views that calm you down
  • Sculptureum in Matakana – Sculpture gardens and a fantastic restaurant that serves great wine
  • Stonyridge Vineyard – Great atmosphere and view over the vines
  • Cleopatra’s Pool - (Waterslide) in Abel Tasman

What do you think is missing from the industry?

Free/affordable seminars to educate and inspire young hospitality professionals.


Alisa Murray

Alisa Murray Sales & Marketing Executive

What made you want to get into hospitality/tourism?

Tourism and hospitality industries are fun and multi-faceted, which is a playground for marketers! Creating wanderlust is always exciting. The product reflects the people as well, super hospitable, fun, worldly people, what else could you want?!

What's on your playlist?

I'm a 'depends on how I feel' kind of person when it comes to music. On a great summer day, it's a TEEKS/Sola Rosa/Fat Freddy's Drop/Avantadale/L.A.B mix. On a day I need motivation or to pick me up, it's a Whitney Houston/Mariah Carey/Meatloaf/Beyonce ballad mix. After dinner whānau dance party with my 4 year old it's the Spotify ‘Kids disco dance party' playlist, warning, a lot of auto tune!

What's this year taught/teaching you?

Lead by example - you don't need to do it all. I like to work at 150% in everything from my big projects to small day to day tasks, to cooking dinner, and caring for my son and my whānau, which can be taxing in time and health, a natural habit I am learning to manage better. If you lead by example in how you work, being a good person, sharing and caring and looking after yourself, then naturally others are influenced.

What is a common misconception about hospitality/tourism/your role?

My role: Colouring in department for marketing in regards to ‘getting to do the fun stuff with images and social', it's so much more than that!

Lunch and wine department for sales in regards to ‘hosting and relationship building with clients', I wish we had more of this, but majority of the time we bring our own lunch each day!

The industry: I wish when people thought about these industries they thought of all the thousands of different roles within it, a lot of people assume this is all the barista's, front desk hoteliers and attraction worker, there is a lot of this but there are also corporate roles and departments here and pipelines wherever you go! Lots of big time General Manager's started as concierge, or ticket stampers!

What's your favourite quote?

I have so many, my main mantra's:
- 'Tūwhitia te hopo, mairangatia te angitū! Feel the fear and do it anyway!
- There is always a silver lining.
- Make the most of every moment.
- Be a GC because you just never know

Who is your idol?

My Nan, hard worker to the core, just as caring all the same. And anyone living as their 100% whole self.

What's one thing most people don't know about you?

I worked in marketing for an orchestra.

If money was no option, what is the first thing you would do?

Give my entire whānau financial freedom.

Fave Kiwi spots to visit?

  • Tokomaru Bay - you don't know what a sunrise is until you've been there #HomeTown
  • Matakana - short staycation outside of busy Auckland, movies, markets, delicious food
  • Whananaki - very special place, great for a no reception kind of break, surfing and coffee IYKYK
  • Key requirements: A beach, minimal visitors, coffee, a good book, the sun and my whānau!

What do you think is missing from the industry?

Two things:

Firstly, apart from the big players in the industries, how can we get the entire industry into the digital world with more efficient processes? A lot of our industry are still not on social media, digital advertising, clear marketing and sales plans, efficient big picture processes that connect and ensure we are working smartly.

Secondly, we need more Māori/Pasifika. World class hospitality, kindness and organising whānau and events runs in a lot of our Māori/Pasifika blood and day to day life, majority of cultures of course. How can we harness the natural skill and empower our people to join industries with so much potential for growth and opportunities given the border closures.


Cathy Liu

Cathy Liu Front Office Manager Sky City Hotel Auckland

What made you want to get into hospitality/tourism?

I accidentally fell into hospitality. I enrolled in the wrong course (by mistake), I was supposed to take horticulture, but my English was not that strong at the time. Oh well, things turned out very well!

What's on your playlist?

When I need an energy boost - Blackpink playlist on Spotify
When I'm stressed and needing to find my zen - 'Canon in D' on repeat

What's this year taught/teaching you?

This year has emphasised three things for me:

  • Things can change at any moment, and often do.
  • Kindness to others can go a long way.
  • I've always believed in being grateful for what you have, this year seems to have exemplified this.

What is a common misconception about hospitality/tourism/your role?

The most common misconception would be people who work in hospitality / tourism do not have a work life balance.
I often see (former) team members moving to another industry to get a better work life balance. I think that in this day and age, the Monday to Friday 9 to 5 role is over-rated. With work emails on your mobile now, the 9 to 5 role barely even exists anymore.
Hospitality is a career that you can achieve a work life balance, so long as you work smart and have the right team members beside you.

What's your favourite quote?

Trust is built on telling the truth, not telling people what they want to hear. - Simon Sinek

Who is your idol?

I don't have one, however I do have a tendency of looking for the best qualities in everyone that I cross paths with.  

What's one thing most people don't know about you?

3.141592653. I can be cryptic at times and am very good with numbers.

If money was no option, what is the first thing you would do?

Emporium, Melbourne! That's all I have to say.

Fave Kiwi spots to visit?

  • Anywhere in Queenstown
  • Ocean Beach in Whangarei
  • Bell Block in New Plymouth
  • Auckland International Airport (with a boarding pass in my hand)
  • Lorne Street for the desserts and Newmarket for the shopping
  • Last but not least, East Day Spa for a bit of pampering

What do you think is missing from the industry?

More support from the government for international hoteliers wanting to make a career in New Zealand. It is difficult to see so many talented, hard-working and ambitious individuals who end up leaving hotels (and in many cases, New Zealand).
Our industry loses a lot of talented young people because of this.


Jean Chapman

Jean Chapman Director of Corporate Sales Sky City

What made you want to get into hospitality and tourism?
The exciting challenge of dealing with a wide range of customers both domestic and international and selling SkyCity Hotel Group.

What's on your playlist?
I love music and your find lots on my play list, Jack Johnson, Mumford and Sons, Adele, Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, Coldplay, U2 then a bit of French Café Jazz, Blues and then give me some great classics, e.g. Rachmaninov. I love the drama of an orchestra.

What has this year taught you?
How to survive and develop through extraordinary challenges imposed by world-wide disruption and learning through it all to never say never.

What is a common misconception about the industry?
That the industry is frivolous and not the serious contributor to NZ's economic and cultural place in the world that it is. My role has been about the development of corporate, government, guests of government and the entertainment business opportunities, for both hotels. We have some amazing partners that support our hotel business.

What's your favourite quote?
"If you look at what you have in life you'll always have more. If you look at what you don't have in life, you'll never have enough." Oprah Winfrey

Who is your idol?
Helen Clark for showing women how you can lead, make the tough decisions but still be sensitive, consultative caring both at the national and international level while never forgetting the importance of family (in her individual case her caring of her much beloved elderly father while holding down high profile national and international positions) A factor here also was that she recognised the importance to NZ tourism industry and culture of a NZ owned company by opening the Sky City Grand Hotel.

What's one thing most people don't know about you?
My first profession was as a nurse at Kew Hospital Invercargill.

If money was no option, what is the first thing you would do?
Develop a process of philanthropy which would enable me to contribute to non-government organisations working in mental health and child poverty reduction including education and health and wellbeing.

Where are your favourite Kiwi spots to visit?
Coromandel, Bay of Islands, Queenstown, Fiordland, Abel Tasman National Park its hard to pick one place New Zealand is unique, how luck are we to live in this amazing country.

What do you think is missing from the industry?
Critical physical and ICT infrastructure to support innovation in the industry.


Dorothy Puklowski

Dorothy Puklowski Ass. Exec. Housekeeper Sky City

What are you looking forward to in 2021?
To being healthy and happy

Continental or cooked breakfast?
Cooked

Draw yourself next to your hotel.
I only can draw stick people, sorry!

What do you think is the most important attributes for your role?
A lot of patience!

Do you and/or your family have any traditions?
A roast lunch every Sunday.

What's something many people don't know about you?
I held long jump record, when I was at college, for 10 years.

If you could get a new skill in 10 minutes, what would it be?
How to master Excel properly!

What's your favourite thing about New Zealand?
Can travel around the country in quite a short time.

What advice would you give someone looking to get into your role?
Have plenty of patience!

What skill do you think everyone should learn?
Think before you speak


Geena Hutton Concierge Sky City Hotel Auckland

Geena is a multi-talented part of the SkyCity Hotel Concierge team and is passionate about customer experiences along with her twin brother Maxwell who works in the same team! Read about Geena below and how she will be playing Mary Poppins for three shows in the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious musical, Mary Poppins, at the Civic this month!

What's the biggest misconception people have about your position?
Some guests are surprised to see a woman working in my position, so I think the biggest misconception about my role is that women can't be porters, and we can!

What's the best advice you were ever given? Who was it from?
Some of the best advice I have ever received is to focus on your own journey and not compare your path to others. I don't remember who told me this, but I think about it almost every day.

What do you think is missing from the hotel industry?
I could only speak for Sky City hotel as it has been the only hotel I have experience working in, but I am impartial to wearing crocs. I think they would be a great asset to our uniform.

Cityscape or Harbour view?
It depends where I would be, but I think I would go with a harbour view.

Who is your idol?
My family have heavily inspired the person I am today. They are my biggest idols. But I also have to credit Michael Jackson... I used to watch him religiously as a child.

What's something many people don't know about you?
Outside of work I am known for my involvement in theatre and performing arts. I also like to sew, and I have twin brother who also works here at Sky City in the same department as me.

What three things make a hotel extraordinary?
Pleasant customer service, attention to detail and fun!

If someone was visiting Auckland what would be the number one thing you'd suggest doing?
A day at Waiheke Island - I highly recommend going if you haven't before. It is stunning.

Who would play you in a movie about your life?
A 20-year-old Geena Davis.

If your hotel was a famous person who would they be?
Taika Waititi of course!


Carmen Leong Guest Services Representative The Grand by SkyCity

What are you looking forward to in 2021?
Horizon grand opening.

Continental or cooked breakfast?
Cooked Breakfast.

What do you think is the most important attributes for your role?
A strong passion.

Do you and/or your family have any traditions?
Every Saturday night, my family and I would gather in the lounge and watch a movie together and it would be with caramel popcorn - our favourite!

What's something many people don't know about you?
I have a mild allergy to melon.

If you could get a new skill in 10 minutes, what would it be?
I'm thinking of knitting.

What's your favourite thing about New Zealand?
Bountiful nature, laid back society.

What advice would you give someone looking to get into your role?
Always be ready to challenge yourself and have fun!

What skill do you think everyone should learn?
Active listening and having empathy.