Maldives Promotion House – Mark Hehir was born and raised in Australia, studied and worked as a chef for a number of years in Australia and around the world. Mark has served the Royals in Britain to working in top hotels. Though, Mark was never the average chef, as his ideals to go further and in time contribute to the development of the world tourism industry, drove him to achieve his goals. Mark’s career span of 29 years in the industry has seen him work all over the world with various companies and numerous positions. Today he is content and ready, to start aiming higher than he ever dreamed.
Mark came to the Maldives by chance; after working for a year at Hilton Colombo and in 1997 his company offered him to come to the Maldives to join the pre-opening team of Hilton Maldives Rangali Island (now re-branded as Conrad Maldives Rangali Island). Then, he had no clue as to where and what the Maldives had to offer. Blindly, he agreed to join Rangali Island as the Executive Chef for a three month period, which was extended to three years. From Rangali, he moved to work at Hilton Tokyo and Hilton Kuala Lampur. After four years he came back to Huvafen Fushi as the Area General Manager. From there he joined Anantara to open two resorts in Bali and Thailand. For the third time he got the chance to return to Maldives where he calls second home; as the General Manager of One&Only Reethi Rah.
To describe Mark as just a chef or general manager will not do justice to him. His creative intuition is always what keeps sets him apart from the rest. As the general manager at Reethi Rah, he has implemented various projects, concepts and ideas that are original as well as successful. At Reethi Rah, some of the more notable contributions by Mark would be the Chef garden restaurant, where the menu is designed to cater produce grown within the resort. Another would be the beach club, where guests can lay in the sun or be active with snorkeling or swimming and be served their favorite drinks right on the beach while a D.J plays the latest tunes. Marks contributions to the Maldivian tourism industry can be seen within the various resorts he has worked with.
Mark firmly believes that one should always be ready to get their hands dirty to do the job. His kind mannerism might be one reason why loyal staff follows him from one resort to the other. The soft spoken general manager of Reethi Rah inspires his staff with not only words but with action. Mark believes that with hard work and determination anyone can achieve their goals. Managing about 700 staff at Reethi Rah, it is no easy job to be the general manager and still have time to contribute to the society. Another ingenious idea of Mark is the apprentice program that Reethi Rah offers for about 20 young persons each year. The general manager is also going to be participating at the New York marathon in November 2012 to raise sponsors and funds for the young children at the Kuda Kudhinge Hiyaa children’s center in Villingili ward. He sets an example of physical maintenance of the body by training for the marathon and also offers staff and guests to join him for the training. Mark has the natural attributes of a true leader who leads by example. His marathon addiction began 2 years ago when he worked at Phuket, Thailand. Now he wishes to inspire more corporates and individuals to join him by running for a cause and raising funds and giving back to the communities and promoting Maldives at the international arena.
As a veteran within the tourism industry and as someone who has worked all over the world, Mark highlights that one global issue is the disposal of garbage. Refuse is not an easy thing to dispose but it is more evident, he says, in Maldives as our islands are smaller. He believes that it is an issue that can be solved with common thinking and working together. Mark does explain that political stability is needed to assure some tourists who have concerns to holiday in a country with instability. As identified by Mark, we should not be too hasty to implement new radical economic policies but be patient and carry it out with clear direction and across the board support. Mark believes that the future of energy production is green, hence at Reethi Rah they are now looking at the possibilities of installing solar energy and other renewable energy methods. The most important aspect to the tourism industry that he himself is now addressing via the Reethi Rah apprentice program is the development of local young workers. He assures that if we invest in the young and direct and guide them, we can produce quality staff to the needed requirements, within the tourism industry.
Mark does agree that at times he does miss cooking and being a chef. As a chef he was able to be more creative and directly in touch with creating. Now on Thursdays Mark does cook for the guests as a special dinner night. Mark has two loves in his life outside his work; his wife and his faithful dog, “Prada” who resides in Thailand. Mark is a chef who had the opportunity to be a general manager and now a leader within the Asian tourism industry.
Simply looking at where Mark Hehir came from and where he is now, is inspiring enough. The 29 year veteran of the tourism industry says that if you have a goal, work hard towards it, be focused and dedicated then there is no way you can fail. You do need to be strong in feet and head and be disciplined to maintain yourself if you wish to make your dreams a reality. We leave the readers with an inspirational line from Mark Hehir: “Do it from the heart, don’t fake it, if you fake it you will fall down but if you’re true you can do anything”.
Further reading: Mark Hehir is running at New York City marathon 2012 to raise funds for Kuda Kudhinge Hiyaa, a home for under-privileged children. (http://maldives.net.mv/6283/mark-hehir-running-for-the-children/)