Oh the Places you can Go! is a series highlighting the experiences and insights of Hospitality professionals across Toronto. Each month, we’ll interview one person about their career path and the valuable lessons they’ve learned along the way.
Our first interview is with Kevin Porter, General Manager (GM) of the Toronto Don Valley Hotel and Suites.
Describe your first job in Hospitality:
When a marketing company I started was sold, I really didn’t know what I would do next. I was 23 and out of work. My friend Martin Ruler was Executive Chef at The Lord Beaverbrook Hotel in Fredericton New Brunswick. Martin asked me if I wanted to come work in the kitchen during the evenings (while I figured things out.) I took him up on his offer. Less than a year later Martin left the hotel and I became the hotel’s Executive Chef.
The truth is, I hated working in the kitchen. I’d come from the corporate world so being behind the scenes in a busy kitchen was not the right atmosphere for me. I took the role because I knew that no matter what, it would lead to something. I wasn’t sure what, but I knew it would lead me somewhere. And it did!
What’s the best career advice you ever received?
It came from my parents. They taught me that when you work hard, the people who matter take notice. Also, they taught me to ignore the nay-sayers.
It’s served me well through my entire career.
When I was promoted from Executive Chef to Director of Sales at Lord Beaverbrook Hotel I didn’t think I could do it. The General Manager told me “trust me, you’ll be fine.” He saw something in me that I couldn’t see in myself and I chose to believe him. He saw that I was willing to do whatever it took to get the job done.
Remember, Isadore Sharp, Founder and Chairman of Four Seasons started as a bellman. Look where he ended up.
What honest advice would you like to pass along to people working in Hospitality today?
It’s the same advice I give to everyone who works at our hotel: No matter where you are in your life today, you can be wherever you want to be in 12 months from now. All you need to do is:
If your career was a TV show, what show would it be?
I’d call it “Directionally Challenged.” I’ve done many different things in my career from cook to Sales and Marketing to General Manager. I’ve taken many risks, but so far they’ve all paid off.
What drives you?
The success of the people around me. I’m always thrilled to brag about other people’s successes. People’s potential is much greater than they realize.