Canada - Susie Sirri
Bailli of Nanaimo
From criminology degree to Bailli via Al Jazeera

Born in Washington DC to Iraqi parents who moved to the USA in the 1960’s, Sawsan Sirri (known as Susie) now lives in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. Spending most of her life on the move, her childhood travels took her to Texas, England, the United Arab Emirates and finally Vancouver just after the 1986 Expo. A hotelier career wasn’t on the cards.

Career highlights and influences:
- Criminology degree
- mid-1990’s: father builds “Harbour City” – a landmark hotel property in Nanaimo
- being part of the hotel project begins Susie’s hospitality career
- 1998: hotel opens under the “Starwood Hotel and Resorts” banner
- Susie grows with Starwood working throughout the organisation
- sabbatical in the Middle East
- joins Aljazeera in Qatar working in their English language service
- 2009 re-joins the family hotel (now The Grand Hotel Nanaimo) bringing new ideas
- becomes a Chaîne member
- 2012 promoted to be Bailli of Nanaimo with commitment to grow membership

In a Q&A session, Susie shared her thoughts of the hospitality industry:

From where (or who) in the industry do you draw inspiration?
Most memorable times were whilst at the Westin St Francis. I worked for a Catering and Conference Director who held daily meetings with her managers. Even one minute late without good reason you would know via a call. You never wanted to be that person - I can still hear her voice in the back of my head even today!

What has been the biggest development in hospitality that you have witnessed?
Technology changes have been huge. Nobody ever envisioned the importance now of Wi-Fi and guests having movies on their own electronic devices.

What do you think are the significant trends, and perhaps challenges, faced today by the industry?
The fixation on having the newest gadgets, brand name products, keeping up with trends is an ongoing challenge. Balancing those needs with the priority of taking the time and effort to truly look after the guest is the dilemma.

What do you think industry professionals should be doing to keep moving hospitality to a new level?
Don’t forget the basics, we are here as service leaders in the business of being hospitable to everyone. Making sure personalized services and memorable experiences stay at the forefront is what keeps our industry special.

What advice would you give to young and aspiring hoteliers?
Expect the unexpected. Never prejudge the person walking into your establishment.


Based on an article prepared by Eric Jones, Chargé de Presse