By Thomas Johnson
When Crisanto Gamboa first started working as a bartender in 1987, he had no idea how far up the industry ladder he would climb over the next three decades. Now the sales and marketing manager for Onward Beach Resort with nearly a dozen former job titles under his belt, the 51-year-old Gamboa shows no signs of slowing down.
Gamboa had just completed high school and was partway through a two-year college program when he had to abandon his education to come to Guam.
“I had no experience in the industry when I started here,” he says, “I was a bartender at the Hilton Tree Bar. But I worked hard, and they moved me up to the front office as assistant bell captain.”
When Onward opened, he was hired as bell captain. He was promoted to guest relations officer, or concierge, then front office manager, night manager, and head of the front office before the hotel moved him to human resources as a training manager. He continued on to become head of housekeeping just prior to becoming sales and marketing manager.
Gamboa says that he was happy to have so many different positions because of the experience it gave him. “I think the key to longevity in the hotel industry,” he says, “is to learn as much as you can about all the different tasks in the hotel. Learn about and work in every aspect of the business.”
His next goal is to eventually become assistant general manager, a position he says he hopes his experience has prepared him for.
“You have to be a people person to succeed in this industry,” he says. “You have to like talking to people, and you have to have a genuine sense of curiosity and enthusiasm. One of the best things about the job is all the new experiences I have every day. Meeting new people, sampling new dishes, seeing festive new decorations, having the opportunity to travel, there’s always something new to learn. When I was the housekeeping manager, I had the honor of being selected by the [Guam Hotel & Restaurant Association] to attend one of the leadership training conferences in Cairns, Australia, and that was amazing. In this industry, you always have a new experience, and the job is never boring.”
However, Gamboa cautions that a love of the job isn’t the only thing needed to succeed. “You have to be patient,” he says. “You can’t just succeed overnight; you have to wait for your time to come. Be patient, and do your best at the task given to you, and your time will come. And that’s what happened to me. When I started out in this industry, I never saw myself as becoming the sales and marketing director. I mean, I would dream about it, of course, but in each of my previous positions, I just did my best. And I think the management saw that and gave me the opportunity to move up.”
As a man who seems to make his own luck, Gamboa has thrown himself into every new position he takes up, making up for his inexperienced beginnings with a desire to learn everything he can. Shortly before making the transition to management, he spent much of his free time becoming a Certified Hospitality Educator and has acquired new certifications with each new managerial position.
“When I was in housekeeping, I got the housekeeping certification,” he says, “and when they put me in HR, I got my Professional Human Resource certification. I always try to learn more and increase my skills and knowledge.”
Gamboa attributes much of his success to hard work and dedication, adding that working in the hotel industry is not an eight-hour job, especially at the management level.
“Sometimes you have to extend your hours to work on a project,” he says. “And sometimes you’re about to leave work and an incident will happen and you have to stay until everything’s settled. You really have to think outside the box and be flexible in terms of your schedule. But that’s okay because at the end of the day, it’s not about us; it’s about the hotel and the guests. Being in sales now, I always have to keep occupancy high and focus on the numbers, and the bottom line is the bottom line.” n