Are you happy? Beckley asks Guelph students

GUELPH, Ont. — For three days in March, Michael Beckley, now with CBRE, shared his 50 years of hotel experience with students at University of Guelph, culminating in a special dinner last night.

By Colleen Isherwood, Editor

GUELPH, Ont. — For three days in March, Michael Beckley, now with CBRE, shared his 50 years of hotel experience with students at University of Guelph, culminating in a special dinner last night.

From March 14th to 16th, Beckley visited the University of Guelph to share his experiences and offer advice to Hospitality and Tourism Management students. Beckley is currently serving as director, CBRE Hotels, and was formerly the senior vice president, Lodging Development for Marriott Hotels of Canada. 

“Michael Beckley told us to ask ourselves two things every day at work,” said Yonnie Wong, student association president, who will soon graduate from the program. “Ask yourself, 'are you happy? And 'what value do you bring to the job?' “

“I learned two things about Michael that show his commitment to the industry,” said School of Hospitality, Food and Tourism Management director Statia Elliot in her introduction to Beckley's speech. “First, whenever he talks about Marriott, he says 'we,' even though he no longer works there.  Second, he still wears a gold ring given to him 40 years ago by one of his mentors.”

Over Beckley’s extensive career, he has held various senior positions within the industry in Europe, Bermuda, the West Indies and Canada. Beckley’s involvement in the industry in Canada has been wide-ranging over the past 34 years and includes serving as chairman of Experience Canada. His time as chairman led to the foundation of the Canadian Tourism Commission and he also served as chairman of Ontario’s Tourism Strategy under the premiership of Bob Rae.

“I have lived in a number of different companies with different languages. The lessons I have learned are: the importance of culture within an organization; the power of influence is far greater than the power of control; and you can achieve more by asking rather than telling.”

Student volunteers prepared and served a meal that included mussel and fennel chowder, Caprese salad, Ontario beef short ribs and sticky toffee pudding to the assembled guests, who included alumni from all areas of the hospitality industry and heads of hospitality organizations. 

Michael Beckley, centre, with student volunteers at the dinner.  Photo: Katherine Jenkins.

Michael Beckley, centre, with student volunteers at the dinner. Photo: Katherine Jenkins.