In this week's Member Spotlight, we share a testament to the transformative power of dedication and adaptability. Meet Julianna Ward-Destang, CA, CPA of Gros Islet, Saint Lucia, who has been a member of HFTP since 2023.
How long have you worked in the hospitality industry? How will your past experience help the association?
I have worked in the hospitality industry for 15 years with the first six years spent as the Bay Gardens Resorts' finance director. Since then, I have been the owner and managing director of Splash Island Water Park. My prior experience also includes four years as a chartered accountant at Deloitte in Toronto where I spent time in the audit practice, primarily for high-tech clients. With degrees in computer science and business administration, my knowledge base spans both the technology and finance spaces.
Having successfully made the transition from technology and finance to operations and now to entrepreneurship, I believe I can provide a unique perspective to young finance and technology professionals in the industry. I can mentor them and show them how their background opens up a lot of future opportunities for them if they maintain an open mind about how their job impacts other aspects of the operation.
What are some of the top challenges you face today in the workplace? How are you resolving them?
The top challenge today has to be attracting, retaining and motivating staff. With the global labor shortage that we are seeing in hospitality, it's not been easy at all. We've had to find "diamonds in the rough" with nontraditional experience and groom them. A lot more time is spent on training and coaching and on staff recognition (both in accomplishment-based awards and on-the-spot) now to keep staff motivated and retained.
Describe a professional experience/anecdote that you will always remember.
I have two—I remember vividly doing tax returns in the winter from an office in Toronto and wishing that I could be working somewhere warm with an ocean view. Fast forward a few years and I'm doing exactly that now, and the experience of of getting Splash Island up and running is one I'll never forget. I developed the initial idea in March 2015 and was able to get it up and running by August that same year. It was a lot of hard work, long days and sleepless nights but it was overall an experience that shaped me and started my journey into entrepreneurship. I have no regrets.
I love to travel and I'm definitely a foodie. My recent travels took me to Israel for the first time, which was very inspiring. I'm also very much a dedicated "swim mom" for my children, especially my son Antoine, who has swam competitively for Saint Lucia for nearly a decade now. Seeing my children grow up with the same love of the outdoors, sports and the water that I grew up with in Saint Lucia and supporting them gives me great satisfaction and fulfillment. I also enjoy spending time with my family and love music of many different genres from country and western to soca and reggae/dancehall.
Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP®), established in 1952, is a nonprofit hospitality association headquartered in Austin, Texas USA with offices in the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Dubai. HFTP is recognized as the spokesgroup for the finance and technology segments of the hospitality industry with an international network of members and stakeholders. HFTP uniquely understands the industry's pressing issues and assists its stakeholders in finding solutions to their challenges more efficiently than any organization. HFTP offers expert networks, educational resources, career development programs, research, leadership opportunities and industry networking events.
7301 Ranch Rd 620 N, Ste 155-193
Austin, TX 78726-4537
Phone: 1 (512) 249-5333