StarPath: Investing in the Future

A long-term research project conducted by Middlesex University in London found that “74 percent of employees felt they weren’t achieving their full potential at work due to lack of development opportunities.” This stifling statistic drives home the certainty that the most important investment Guest Services, Inc. can make is in its own team members.

The new StarPath program was created from this inherent belief. It was shaped by a combination of our talent identification strategies, our leadership training and our team member investment strategies to provide a unique growth opportunity for the “Future Stars” of our company. “The initiative began as Jeff Marquis’ idea for internal development and has blossomed into a robust program to seek out, recognize and foster individual excellence. The goal is to find the hidden gems in our organization and give them the opportunity to develop as leaders, expand their knowledge, obtain new business familiarities and take the next steps toward reaching their full potential,” says Katie Gianturco, training and development manager.

Gianturco helped create the StarPath program and will continue to facilitate its progress as it launches later this year. She also experienced the external leadership development training, one of StarPath’s key components, firsthand, which helped solidify the program’s final itinerary.

StarPath is split into three phases. Gianturco says, “First, Future Stars will be welcomed at the corporate office where they will receive in-house custom leadership training, meet other future GSI leaders, VPs, and officers of the company, and then finish with a thorough overview of the exciting journey to come. Next, participants will tour three different standout units on a specifically customized schedule based on their experiences, knowledge and home unit.”

“The last phase concludes with external leadership development training from the Disney Institute, an organization chosen for its industry leadership, hospitality expertise and world-renowned service excellence. Participants will engage in Disney’s ‘time-tested best practices, sound methodologies, and real life business lessons that facilitate corporate culture change.’”

She continues, “I’m extremely excited about StarPath. This program demonstrates Guest Services’ renewed commitment to developing talent internally and represents a new way we can invest in our team members. StarPath allows team members to learn more about our very special company and return to their home units and properties with new, valuable information that can have a major impact on their careers and others around them.”

Standout units and properties were selected after a comprehensive process conducted by the executive committee. Selections were based on a detailed analysis of the entire operation and demonstrated business excellence. Any Guest Services, Inc. team member can (and is encouraged to) nominate co-workers for StarPath; they can even nominate themselves to participate in the program. After careful consideration of all nominees, the selection committee extends a formal invitation to participate in StarPath to a small cohort of Future Stars.

StarPath is just one way Guest Services, Inc. expresses its commitment to team member development. Another is the Cornerstone System, a new, sophisticated HR tool being implemented that uses several components to offer team members instant, on-demand access to hundreds of learning resources. This system also allows for streamlined onboarding and recruiting processes, while optimizing HR’s ability to respond to training requests. Projects on the horizon include the development of more companywide management solutions, a boot camp for new managers and a new unified culture initiative.

Benjamin Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest,” and at Guest Services, Inc., we couldn’t agree more. In order to perform to the best of our ability, we must invest in our team members and provide them tools necessary to thrive. We look forward to the continued expansion of our development and training processes and are thrilled to welcome the first ever 2018 Future Stars later this spring.