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How to Succeed: Amanda Hyndman, general manager of Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong

In this edition of ‘How to Succeed’, we speak to Amanda Hyndman, newly appointed general manager of Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, about the challenges in the hospitality industry, her return to Hong Kong, and the high achievement of being the first female GM of Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong.

Hospitality has been the industry that Amanda Hyndman set her mind on since the start of her career. Previously the general manager of Excelsior from 2007 to 2009, Hyndman most recently stepped up to the Hong Kong hospitality scene with a bigger role as the first female general manager of Mandarin Oriental. And that’s not all. She only holds the title of Vice President of Operations at the Mandarin Oriental, overseeing the operations across Hong Kong, China, and Macau. 

We speak to her about her achievements and journey to getting where she is now. Hyndman shares her challenges, inspirations and how she has been adjusting to the pandemic — both at work and in her personal life. 

Amanda Hyndman Mandarin Oriental

Tell us a bit about your professional background. Was there a specific moment or event that inspired you to dive into the hospitality industry? 

When I was 17 and still at school, I had a Saturday job washing up in a café and fell in love with it. My manager suggested that I get a degree in Hotel and Catering Management. I took that advice and haven’t looked back since. 

What did you find most challenging about working in this industry during the pandemic?

The not-knowing. Although we dealt with H1N1 in Hong Kong in 2009, it was nothing like the scale of COVID. Caring for our guests and colleagues was, and remains, our continuing priority. It’s important to recognise that everyone has different needs, and our job is to do everything in our power to provide a sense of reassurance and make them feel safe and secure at work, and in order for guests to enjoy their experiences at the hotel.  

In 2007, you were appointed the general manager of The Excelsior Hong Kong. After stints across multiple properties around the world since then, what brought you back to Hong Kong?

The happiest times in my career were at Excelsior Hong Kong. Although it wasn’t a Mandarin, the team was fantastic. The service ethic, dedication and passion of the colleagues was unlike anything I had ever seen in my career and made a huge impression on me. For this reason, I jumped at the opportunity to return to Hong Kong. 

Which has been your most memorable property to work at to date? Why?

I can’t choose just one since I have so many fond memories from different properties within the Mandarin Oriental family. The Excelsior was certainly one of my favourite hotels for the reasons I just mentioned. 

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok

Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok was a pleasure to go to work every day simply because of its fantastic location on the mighty Chao Phraya river. As one of the most famous hotels in the world, it was frequented by the Thai Royal Family, Heads of State and it was the place to be and be seen by the Thai high society for over 145 years. 

Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park

And finally, I can’t forget our London Grand Dame, Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park, where I oversaw its US$150m renovation. Many influential personalities have stayed there, including Gandhi and Churchill. It’s also where Her Majesty The Queen learned how to dance. I fell in love with these iconic hotels with very illustrious pasts, but most importantly the amazing colleagues. 

You’re the first female GM of Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong. How does that make you feel?

This is such an iconic hotel in Hong Kong; the absolute beating heart of the city’s business and society. I admired this hotel for many years as the ‘mothership’ of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. It is a tremendous honour and I am beyond thrilled.

What does an average workday look like for you?

I’m walking and talking all day long with the different teams in the various departments, whether it’s in the lobby, the kitchens, the restaurants, housekeeping or engineering. Wherever there are guests or colleagues, you will find me. I try not to be in front of a PC and spend as little time as possible in the office. 

Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong

What do you like to do when you’re not working? How does it help you?

I love to walk and some of my favourite places to go are Dragon’s Back, Violet Hill, Lamma, the Peak or around Central. It clears my head and rebalances me. It’s also a great way to people-watch. I also love to cook and, of course, explore the city’s fine-dining scene — but only ones that serve white Burgundy.

With the benefit of hindsight, what’s one piece of advice you wish you’d been given at the beginning of your career? 

To have more self-belief. I am pretty confident now, but that wasn’t always the case. The hotel industry used to be very snobby and elitist which can be intimidating. My responsibility now is to give everyone hope and ambition that if they work hard and work for a great company, then the sky’s the limit. 

The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Hong Kong
5 Connaught Rd Central, Central
How to Succeed: Amanda Hyndman, general manager of Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong

Subin Hong

A Malaysian-raised Korean, Subin has a passion for the latest global fashion and media trends. Her love for everything basketball and rap initially sparked her interest in creating graphic design posters. During her free time, you can find her staying active with sports, following the NBA season, or searching for the best cocktails in Hong Kong.

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