This is Not So Status Quo, a series where we shine a light on YOTEL crew members who work hard to challenge the status quo in whatever they do. This month we spoke to Jorge Tito, YOTEL New York Times Square's General Manager. Keep reading to find out more!
TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR ROLE AT YOTEL AND WHAT YOUR DAY-TO-DAY LOOKS LIKE.
I’m YOTEL New York Times Square’s General Manager. It is a very special place to me and my role always changes throughout the day – it’s quite a rollercoaster! I have some daily routines but there are always events and situations popping up that require my involvement. It’s a job that you need to be hands on with, whether I'm helping solve guest issues or technical challenges. The objective is to always be perfect in what we deliver to our guests whilst creating a positive workplace for our crew. At the end of the day, we have a business to run but there’s always something exciting to get stuck into. It’s also fantastic being able to work in my favorite city every day.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WORK IN HOSPITALITY?
I grew up in a family of restauranteurs, so I was always close to the industry but it wasn’t initially my plan to make a career out of it. Around the age of 20, I was studying physics and math, maybe to become an engineer but I ended up being given the opportunity to go to a school for hospitality. It was a great experience where I discovered my natural passion for hospitality and the different disciplines within it. By the age of 22, I truly felt like I was born for this and that it was my purpose to work in the industry. I cannot forget the excellent mentors I met who had been a huge source of inspiration; they helped me discover and understand my personal attributes that would ultimately lead me to becoming a hotel manager.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME AN ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST AND HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN INVOLVED IN THE PROTECTION OF YOUR HOMETOWN IN LAGOA?
I believe my passion for nature and its protection came from my frustrations of listening to politicians giving speeches on the environment filled with great ideas but zero action being taken. It seems like their approach is to always do what’s best for them and not our local communities. I felt that I was called to act, in any way that I could, to do my part and make a difference.
At home, I educate my children with a huge focus on the protection of the environment, living sustainably and reducing our daily consumption where we can. When it comes to YOTEL, it’s a much bigger task of shifting the mentality and educating 130 crew members as well as guests who stay with us. We’ve successfully eliminated all plastic utensils and disposable coffee cups in our crew cafeteria. Everyone has their own full kit of silverware and coffee cup which they’re responsible for cleaning and reusing. These small changes in attitudes and behaviors can make a big difference when everyone gets involved.
As for my hometown of Lagoa in Portugal, I first got involved seven years ago when I heard on the radio that the city had approved a large commercial development that would destroy the Alagoas Brancas. This beautiful wetland, spanning 21 acres, is home to hundreds of species of plants, birds and other animals, many of which are endangered. Despite a number of requests and appeals from local environmental associations to help save the Alagoas Brancas, the local and national authorities completely ignored our pleas. I was living in Miami at the time but knew I had to do something.
Since that moment I’ve not stopped campaigning.
IS THERE A MOMENT OR EXPERIENCE YOU'RE MOST PROUD OF?
This cause has brought more purpose to my life and has led me to achieve many things I’m proud of. But one that stands out is the day we were able to stop the beginning of construction at the Alagoas Brancas with the group, Save the Alagoas of Lagoa. We are still fighting but that was a huge win for the community.
I’m particularly proud of the day I was able to hand documents outlining the cause to the Portuguese President in person, breaking all protocol to help reach the objective. Our team had worked so hard to raise awareness so it was a true ‘mission accomplished’ moment when the President heard what we had to say. I’ve even got a selfie with him to prove it.
HOW DOES YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL WORK HELP YOU CHALLENGE THE STATUS QUO?
Staying consistent in my actions and seeing the evidence of positive change from my nature conservation work has definitely taught me to challenge the status quo. There’s the cliché, ‘think globally, act locally.’ I hope that the way I work with my team members whilst trying to be a role model can encourage others to do the same and be a part of the change – whether it’s for YOTEL or their own local communities.
To me, challenging the status quo is also acting immediately and not waiting for ‘the right moment’. That mindset can move mountains and it has done in my hometown. Lagoa’s wetlands are thriving thanks to those willing to take action.
WHERE CAN WE LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ALAGOAS BRANCAS AND HOW CAN WE HELP?
The most recent petition is now closed and will be with the Portuguese parliament very soon. So for now, I’d love to spread the message of this incredible place and the true joys of nature.
Learn more about the Alagoas Brancas here.