Tete-a-Tete with Elias Saad: Real-Life Career Story
Career Story

An expert in the hospitality field opens his heart out and shares his own understanding and shares his first-hand experiences on how he achieved a successful career and how others can follow his path.

Personality: Elias Saad

Current Designation: F&B director. Bab Al Qasr Hotel Abu Dhabi

I belong to a family with a military background , where my father was in the Military and my grandfather as well, so it was eventually decided that I will join the military school when I graduate from high school. But my short working experience in the hospitality field kept me from doing anything else but pursuing my passion for this field. 

Tell us about your current job roles and responsibilities?

With my current post, I oversee 9 restaurants with a large variety of concepts and food and service. I have 120 employees reporting to me. I ensure that the operations are running smoothly, each outlet has a direct manager who in turn reports to me . We run daily briefings trying to overcome any challenge.

A routine  meeting  will be held every 6 months with every manager of the restaurants to set  SOP (standards of operations), and set the leaders goal KPI .

How did you reach or stumble upon your current profession? What courses or experiences brought you where you are?

I started my journey in Hospitality back in my teenage years. At age 14 I had the chance to work in a restaurant during summer vacation and earn extra pocket money. This particular experience was a milestone in my life without me realizing this. After 21 years of working at F&B and the hospitality field, I gained lots of knowledge with different courses and training. Pursuing a dream requires consistency and additional knowledge and learning, which I believe that my MBA will have a high contribution to.

I started my journey in F&B when I was offered training in Hilton Hotel. It was about The Principles of Supervision, and the journey continues. After 21 years of working at F&B and the hospitality field, I gained lots of knowledge with different courses and training. Pursuing a dream requires consistency and additional knowledge and learning, which I believe that my MBA will have a high contribution to.

Today, I reached the position of Director, but I will not stop here. It is my everyday experience along with so many years in the hospitality field that was an added advantage to my personality and my career path that lead me to my current profession.

To reach the director level, I had to go through many experiences in food Cost, kitchen hygiene, of course some recipes, and as per UAE regulations , I have to get the certification that got approved from government such as – HAZARD, ADEFCA

In addition to the above listed experiences , I did many training in wine, service, hygiene, spirit, supervision.

During your years at the job, what are the key skills you picked up?

I learnt a lot over the years before and during the job but some key skills that need mentioning are:

1- becoming a thought leader
2- leading effectively
3- 20 habits of executive leadership
4- balancing multiple roles as leader
5- coaching skills for leaders and managers
6- executive leadership
7- how to Handel poor performers
8- human resources managing employee problems
9- making key decisions as a manager
10- transformational leadership

Did you stick to a certain education degree or diversified and completed extra certifications?

Of course, I completed my basic education but that is never enough. We got to keep learning. Hence, I finished some certifications and training courses over the years.

2004: Hilton International program in Principles of Supervision

2008: The secret of superior service 2008. Up your service

2010: DNV Det Norske Veritas, Certificate of training ISO 22000:2005 system overviews

2012 : Absolut Academy ( Ahus Sweden)

2019 : HACCAP level 2

2019 : ACCOR LIVE LIMITLESS “ ALL STARS “ MEA

Is this your ultimate dream career or just a vocation? Are you still in search mode?

Still searching. My ultimate dream aside from what I am doing now is establishing my own business as a Restaurant owner or being a General manager of a reputable chain.

Nonetheless, my everyday experience is an added advantage to my personality and my career path. 

Did you find your calling? If yes, how?

Yes, I did.  Both qualifications and experience will take you up high on the career success ladder. Never stop learning. With 21 years of experience in F&B , I learned many things that are not only added to my CV but added to my personality. I met with all types of people, I made lots of connections in every sector: which in turn helps me in my job.

I learned to discrete, Hospitality is about being discrete and respect the privacy of customers,

I learned to be calm and cool at the same time, I learned to tackle any problems with guests and employees in a professional and diplomatic manner.

This in turn made me a suitable person who can manage 120 employees. Yes we face problems with other departments but you know what is the key to success? It is personal communication , it is important to solve your problems when confronting the other party, meet face to face. In schools we learn that by email and copy and cc we can communicate and solve problems, but my experience proves no, we must meet face to face and then we can solve any problem.

What are the best market trends and practices in your current profession?

Nowadays social media is the game changer. I had to learn how to deal with all the social media aspects in order to be able to run and manage the restaurants profitably.

But we don’t deny that personal  and human interaction is the main player in this game. 

In the service sector, the guest is the king. Everyone working in this sector will ensure that guests or customers are always satisfied, we work to exceed their customer’s expectations. And this is the key for every successful leader in Hospitality.

Not to forget the charisma, the director and the manager personality plays a huge role in the hospitality field. If you want to reach a high level make sure you work on your personality , Positive and charismatic with experience and education = successful career.

Continuous education is the key, never stop , adapt and learn as much as you can.

For instance during Covid-19 , we learned lots of new things that are added to our experience and qualification, we learned how to adapt with the new regulations, we learned what to implement in order to keep customer loyalty, nothing comes easy , but we work hard.

Our best practices are the Values, guest satisfactions and Goals . These are my rules of thumb that I follow in my career path . Add value to yourself by acquiring new skills everyday, learn how to achieve your goals, follow your dream and never stop.

Career Timeline of Elias Saad

  • MBA
  • F & B training in small hotel
  • Hilton Hotel as a trainee
  • HAZARD ADEFCA certification
  • Multiple training in Hospitality & Management
  • Director of F & B, Bab Al Qasr Hotel Abu Dhabi

Career Guidance

Are you motivated? If you want to have a successful career like Elias Saad in the hospitality sector, here is what you need to learn and achieve.

Skills Requirement

Some core hard skills necessary for the Hospitality sector along with vocational and other soft skills are necessary to become sucessful.

Time Requirement

you never stop learning and the more you are aware of the new emerging trends in terms of rules and regulations and keep upskilling, nothing can stop you from success. Updation is not time bound. However, to enter the sector, you have to get the basic MBA in Hospitality and Management/ Hotel Management before you proceed with anything else, which takes about 2 years, depending on what kind of course you are opting for.

Place of Learning

There are multiple places from where you can get your degree and other training certificates from. Today even online options are available wherein you can remotely study and gain a certificate like Udemy, Edu Uncle and so on. You can also opt for various institutions offline like Emirates Institute of Hospitality Management, best suited to your academics and needs.

How will you get your job?

Build a portfolio fit for the job role you seek

Update that portfolio on job portals and consultancies

Prepare for interviews

Choose from various markets and organizations to have a focused choice

Get ready to excel in your dream job!