Hospitality Mental Health Guru Dee Burrowes Joined Our Lobby Talks

Hospitality Mental Health Guru Dee Burrowes Joined Our Lobby Talks

We welcome Dee Burrowes for a new episode of Lobby Talks, and we were amazed by her brilliant expertise in hotel management. Let’s get to know Dee a little bit better, her career achievements, why she chose to become a mental health coach for hospitality, and her advice to younger people who want to build a career in the industry.

Talented ‘Mental Health Guru’, Dee Burrowes has over 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry. Her first degree was in Hospitality Management, she is also a trained teacher, a Certified Professional Coach, an NLP Practitioner, and she also represented the United Kingdom at the International G20 summit. On top of that, Dee has successfully completed an MBA at the University of Sunderland in London – the courses included Global Corporate Strategy, International Business, International Finance, Corporate Finance, Law & Corporate Governance.

After many years in a corporate career, Dee chose to change careers and focus on being a professional life and mental health coach, which she has been doing for the last five years. Even though Dee has left the Hospitality Industry’s day-to-day actions, she is a Professor in Events and Hospitality Management, and her lectures are thought specially for students who want to build a career in the sector.

Dee’s favourite hotel lobby

I’ll take you all the way to the Caribbean, the Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa in Grand Cayman, which opened in 2016. With a very luxurious and contemporary design, the hotel has a HUGE lobby, you walk in and you’re being offered a cup of champagne. This hotel represents my journey in personal development.

Dee’s Career in 60 Seconds

Can I squeeze it in 60s (laughs)? I’ll try. I have a degree in Hospitality, I went to school in Jamaica where I studied Hospitality Management. After that, I decided to work in hospitality and worked as an Assistant General Manager. Looking back, I know I can work for any department, I worked my way up, as I was passionate about it, before it led to burnout. The experience was fundamental to me, I met amazing people, made an impact while learning and taking my career to the next level.

But then I thought, “what is my next love”? 

I worked a bit in Revenue i.e. did we have a full occupancy last night? I juggled between accounting and finance, and around 2010 while working for a 5-star hotel in London, I wanted to know more about personal development. I wanted to live my true purpose, and the more I dived into it, the better I was. I was working better, showing up more for clients and in my personal life. I travelled to America, I left corporate life for a while, to become a life and mental health coach for the Hospitality industry.

Then I did a PGCE – I’m a trained teacher, a Certified Professional Coach, an NLP Practitioner, and I represented the UK at the International G20 summit. Then I met an amazing Director of a Private School who offered me a role as – guess what – a Professor in Events and Hospitality Management. That role was handed to me on a gold platter.

Good Day / Bad Day 

Good times were when I was there for my guests, for somebody who has gone into labour or lost their credit card, as trivial as it may seem, but the best moment is when these guests told me: “You were the one who helped me during my worst moments”, and also when I ended up meeting a few politicians. 

A good day: I was helping this couple for a weekend – the lady was 7 months pregnant; I remember I was doing a night shift, and my pager went off. Security went up, the husband was in a frantic situation, his wife was about to deliver earlier than the term – that night, from being a night manager I became a nurse, but most certainly I was being a woman. So we called the paramedics and I was doing everything I could to give her the support she needed. Later, she wrote a letter to the company, thanking me for helping her. It was truly humbling. 

A bad day, or probably my worst day: there was one night, another couple, a guest was going through turmoil, physical domestic abuse. I had no training, I wasn’t prepared, I didn’t know what to do. I had to use my wisdom. I felt overwhelmed, to say the least. I wasn’t prepared to see a man beating his wife.  

My advice would be: prepare for the worst. If you’re passionate about the industry, you’ll go a long way. We’re a service industry, so be authentic and put yourself in the position of your guest. Make a profound impact as much as you can.  

If I can’t give my best then there’s no point.

Last day on Earth 

I’m Vegan so there’s that restaurant in New York City, Eleven Madison Park – it’s a full-service fine dining restaurant with Daniel Humm as the Chef. I would love to visit that restaurant, walk every corridor. It’s $335 for a 3-course meal.  

Hotel on my wish list: Ritz-Carlton as I worked for the property, and I’d love to visit the one in the Maldives (Fari Islands). Why Ritz-Carlton? Their service is crème de la crème. It is impeccable, the decor is delightful, and I worked for the group, so I have a soft spot.

The Guestbook 

Dee shares her words of wisdom and advice for people thinking about their own career journey.

Before I dive into that, I’d like to add something about mental health in the industry. Two years ago, pre-pandemic, I was doing research; it was after I heard a Chef committed suicide in the Cayman Islands. I thought he had everything in his life, and wondered why such an act? I think we need more support for the managerial level. Companies need to start incorporating mental health for managers into their values, and I’ve been consulting a bit for Hospitality. Nothing has been put in place so it definitely needs more attention. 

If I had to give advice to younger people starting in hospitality, I’d say be authentic to yourself. Ask yourself what do you want in your life? We all have pain points. We’ve been through so much these past two years. Some have pivoted, some have not been back on their feet yet, so you have to take yourself to the next level. Reach out to coaches for support. You can’t do it alone.  

No man is an island; we all need somebody to take us to the next level.

What’s next in 2022?   

I’m working with different organisations and I want to see how I can be more proactive in supporting hospitality. Learning and growing make me a better person in showing how up for my clients, and it’s more of a collaborative work than a competition because, at the end of the day, we all want to make our customers happy.

If you missed the live stream, here’s the replay: