Mohamed Ibrahim Abdullah Ziada, Executive Housekeeper at Mercure Hotel & Apartment, Barsha Heights
Mohamed Ibrahim Abdullah Ziada hails from the beautiful city of Egypt. His people skills and love for versatility led him to a successful career in hospitality. Let’s take a look at his journey.
I am from Egypt and have been living in the UAE for 10 years. I would describe myself as a hard worker, reliable and able to perform well under pressure. I chose hospitality because it involves many different tasks and responsibilities. I am a very enthusiastic person who loves communicating with people. This makes me gain more knowledge and experience.
Your experience and years in the industry
I have been working for three years as the Executive Housekeeper at Mercure Hotel & Apartment Barsha Heights Dubai. I am responsible for the Housekeeping and Laundry operations. The property is a 4-star hotel with 1,015 rooms (507 apartments and 408 suites).
I started my career in hospitality at Ritz Carlton Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, in 2008. During this time, I was promoted to different positions such as trainee HK supervisor and then to a fully-fledged supervisory role in 2010. My goal was to work in a luxury hotel. I moved to Sofitel the Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, U.A.E, as a Housekeeping Senior Supervisor in 2013. This paved way for yet another promotion to Manager - Housekeeping in 2014.
My experience ultimately taught me that housekeeping is one of the most important departments in a hotel, and consistency in providing the highest possible standards of cleanliness in guest rooms and public areas is one of the most important responsibilities of the department.
What drives you and your career?
As an extrovert, I love to work with collaborative teams and get results. I am always open to each department and take challenges in my role and accomplish them with the support of my whole team. I believe in giving my whole heart to the tasks assigned to me and ensure I deliver on time. It is my passion towards my career that makes me lead them by example.
What drives me is the environment and people that surround me. Daily interaction with my colleagues and guests, a positive and supportive team and their motivation to become successful and stronger adds to it.
An accomplishment that shaped your career
My first hotel pre-opening in Ritz Carlton DIFC Dubai was definitely the one that boosted my career. Working in a hotel during the pre-opening phase is stressful, yet the responsibilities and achievement of a successful hotel opening has been a very positive learning experience. I opened 3 hotels and then moved on to working in Mercure Barsha with 1,015 units. I have been doing major renovations in my current establishment for the past 2 years, and I can say I have successfully achieved this. The next accomplishment is my nomination in Hospitality Excellence Awards 2020.
The best part of your job
The best part of my job is to help my team to grow in their career path. At my current property, I am leading more than 130 staff members who offer guests an exceptional experience. I too enjoy interacting with the guests on a daily basis. I believe when you communicate with your guests, you turn them into brand loyalists. I am very proud to achieve that.
The most challenging aspect in your job
I always believe in looking at the brighter side of things and put in all the efforts to serve better. Guests and owner expectations are sometimes higher, and resources being less can be challenging at times. Today’s generation needs to be passionate about joining the housekeeping department, and it should be considered as their first choice of career, not second. As managers, we have to ensure that the team is motivated for them to see their future in housekeeping.
Why is sustainability so important to you?
I think as a human being, it is every person’s responsibility and obligation to respect our planet and adhere to sustainable practices in their day-to-day life. We need to think about our next generations and make this planet a beautiful place to live in. I am happy to be part of the Marriott team where sustainability practices are a priority. We do encourage our guests to participate in our ‘Planet 21’ campaign wherein they can limit their requirements with daily bed sheet and towels change, etc. Sustainability isn’t a choice anymore; it’s an obligation and a responsibility.
Housekeeping and stewarding must work very closely with each other to monitor this activity. Segregation of paper and plastics can be done on the guest floor service areas itself by training the staff to put them into separate bins or bags. It is also essential that executive housekeepers choose biodegradable guest amenities and products. Everyone must promote a culture wherein plastic waste is minimized, thus saving our beautiful planet from plastic pollution.
In addition, we implemented a zero plastic program in our hotel by replacing all plastic bottles with glass refillable bottles; we received recognition from Dubai Municipality for all our achievements in sustainability programs in our hotel.
Housekeeping practices you follow
Practices have changed since the COVID-19 crisis, and we have to adhere to social distancing and implement disinfecting agents in our cleaning routines. Interaction with guests have changed with the social distancing. We are disinfecting all the areas that guests touch daily.
We also distribute the cleaning of the guest rooms equally amongst the housekeeping staff members based on the occupancy while we schedule guestroom deep cleaning on a weekly and monthly basis.
In this program, all housekeeping tasks place a strong focus on deep cleaning specific areas. The focus changes regularly as per schedule to make sure no areas are being missed out. We have scheduled detailed cleaning of all public areas in the night, and regular maintenance is done during the day. Likewise, marble polishing is scheduled during the night while carpet and soft surfaces are cleaned during the day.
The latest products in use
Currently we are using a hot steam machine as this is a non-chemical machine in nature and a boon to the environment. Other than that, we use eco-friendly chemicals to make our guests feel comfortable with staying with us.
Training provided to the cleaning staff
Every month, we organize training programs for the staff called Training Within Industry ‘TWI’ where we follow a calendar approach to focus on guest rooms, personalize setup, health and safety. We train the staff through practical demonstrations. In addition, I believe in staff talent and encourage them to do cross training.
With the fast innovation of technologies, day by day the concept of housekeeping is changing. Housekeeping teams are getting more involved with machines. I believe we must develop the people not only based on their skills but also based on emotional intelligence. Housekeeping not only contributes to this but provides an emotional attachment, too, that can never be replaced by any technology.
How do you think the COVID-19 pandemic should be dealt with (in terms of housekeeping)?
Dealing with this pandemic COVID-19 is very challenging, as we have to implement a lot of precautions. Using appropriate PPE such as masks and gloves at all times is a standard for our staff. We make sure that all the hand sanitizers are available in all public areas and all floors for the staff used. We also ensure that we implement room disinfection using disinfection chemicals.
We also do fogging disinfection for the check room. Teamwork and communication have become more important than ever and are vital for everyone to deal with this crisis. In this situation, the safety of our guests and employees is our first priority.