Lincoln journey leads to high-powered hotel career

04 December 2023 | News

Lincoln University prepared alumnus Sam Swaffield for success in many different ways, including offering the flexibility to change the direction of his studies at any time.

Sam has worked at the InterContintental Hotel Group in Sydney for more than a decade, but he didn’t realise until his last semester at Lincoln that he wanted to establish a career in the hotel industry.

“I was working in a bank during my time at university and found that the most enjoyable part about my day was connecting with customers; there were a lot of transferrable skills between the two industries,” he said.

“When I first started studying at Lincoln, I was doing different majors to the ones I finished with and that was one of the great ways Lincoln helped set me up for success. The ability to change majors late into my degree meant that I could wait until my third year to narrow my focus.”

Unlike most hotel-focused tertiary education, Sam said Lincoln did not emphasise “the day-to-day operations of hotels as much as it focused on hotels as businesses”.

“Understanding the wider economy, business management, real estate investment and financials meant my mindset going into a hotel career was quite a bit different to my peers.”

After an extended period of working in hotel operations, Sam’s current role with InterContinental Hotel Group is ‘Director of Performance, Japan, Australasia and the Pacific’.

“I’m responsible for helping to drive hotel performance across 120 hotels, 10 countries and eight hotel brands,” he said. “This role is also part of the region’s Senior Leadership Team, so I get some great opportunities to work on complex problems and developments facing our industry.

“People will always be the part I love most about the industry – it is why I joined and why I stay. Being in our hotels and working with the various teams will always bring me the most joy.”

Asked about the kind of advice he would give to prospective students, Sam said the hotel industry offered “the best return for your passion and your effort”.

“The opportunities to grow and gain experience across any number of positions, locations and career paths is something only few industries can rival. I have spent 10 years now working for IHG and during that time, I have had 10 different jobs across a wide list of responsibilities.

“From Hotel Management to Rugby World Cup Project Management and Strategy Development, I have really been able to do everything while working for the same company in the same industry.”

Sam graduated from Lincoln University in 2012 with a Bachelor of Commerce in Hotel, Motel and Restaurant Management and Entrepreneurship. The current equivalent programme offered at Lincoln is the Bachelor of Commerce with a major in Hotel and Tourism Management.