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Hong Kong hotel boss takes out top award

Internationally-renowned hotelier Jennifer Cronin, who started her career on the Gold Coast and has risen to head one of Hong Kong's leading hotel operators, Marco Polo Hotel, is back where it all began, last night (Thursday, May 26) accepting Bond University's most prestigious alumni accolade.

Dr Cronin was honoured with the Robert Stable Alumni Medal for exceptional achievement at the 2016 Bond University Alumni Awards, held annually to celebrate the successes of Bond graduates.

She was among three exceptional alumni recognised at the event, with writer and television presenter Allyson Seaborn awarded for Exceptional Community Achievement and solicitor Melanie Hayden taking home the Alumni Student Award.

The Awards open Bond University's Homecoming festivities, which attract hundreds of high-achieving alumni, students, staff and friends from around the globe to campus for a weekend of workshops, social and sporting events and will this year celebrate Bond's 27 year anniversary.

A number of high-profile business leaders will also come together for the Alumni Leaders Forum on Friday (May 27) to discuss Bond's strategic direction and the ongoing partnership between the University and its alumni.

Dr Cronin said the Alumni Awards provided a great opportunity to come back to the Gold Coast - where she grew up and started her career, landing her first management position in 1985 as Head of National Convention Sales at Conrad Jupiters Casino, then Australia's largest hotel.

"With a degree in Japanese, I was at the beginning of the Gold Coast’s internationalisation in the eighties and was part of the opening team of Conrad Hotel and Jupiters Casino," she said.

"The dynamic forces of the Asian markets and their growth factors have presented me with boundless opportunities to develop my career and professional experience in the international arena, however the Gold Coast is my home and will always be.

"The Aussie 'can-do' spirit and ability to connect, innovate and work in culturally diverse businesses has helped me continually improve and set higher benchmarks each time I progressed in my career."

Dr Cronin was part of Bond's first cohort of Masters of Business Administration (MBA) students in 1989 and was awarded the MBA Director’s Award for Outstanding Achievement on graduation.

She went on to take senior roles at the Holiday Inn Hope Island and Hyatt Regency Sanctuary Cove, where she was promoted to Area Director of Marketing for Grand Hyatt's South-East Asia division and the Grand Hyatt Singapore.

During her six years in Singapore, Dr Cronin was acknowledged as a sales and marketing leader for her focus on the growth of intra-regional Asia Pacific travel, which accounted for 60 per cent of business into Singapore’s luxury hotel market.

In 2011, she took a three year sabbatical and returned to Bond University to complete postdoctoral studies.  Her PhD on crisis management leadership was recognised with an Australian Postgraduate Award, presented to elite students based on academic achievement, research ability and potential.

While finalising her PhD in 2014, Dr Cronin was appointed Vice-President of Sales and Marketing of Hong Kong headquartered Marco Polo Hotels. In under two years, she rose to Company President and now manages a growing portfolio of hotels across Asia, including directing the opening of Marco Polo's flagship US$1 billion property in Hong Kong, due to open late 2017.

"We are preparing for the unveiling of our new flagship and progressing the opening of a number of hotels throughout China with our luxury brand Niccolo by Marco Polo - one of which will be located in Chongqing, the world’s largest city with a population of 32 million people," said Dr Cronin.

"We are also pursuing new projects in Shanghai, Singapore and other Asian gateway cities such as Seoul and Tokyo."

Dr Cronin said she was 'extremely proud to represent all Bondies in today’s global village'.

"There are so many inspiring success stories over the past 27 years and receiving the Robert Stable Alumni Medal only inspires me to pay it forward, to help Bond continue on its course to make a positive difference in today’s society and provide Bondies with every chance to create their own success stories," she said.

Bond University Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Tim Brailsford, said the Alumni Awards were an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the institution's highest achieving graduates.

"The calibre of Bond University's alumni is consistently outstanding, as demonstrated again by the achievements of this year's Alumni Award winners, Jennifer, Allyson and Melanie," said Professor Brailsford.

"Jennifer has enjoyed an exceptional career in the upper echelons of the tourism and hotel industry, while also demonstrating an outstanding commitment to personal and professional development.

"She is a prime example of how postgraduate education can assist with accelerating career progression from front line positions to chief executive and senior leadership roles.

"Bond prides itself on the holistic nature of its education that focuses on the personal development and transformation of our students.

"This year's Alumni Award winners are exemplary role models for our current and future students, and we are extremely proud of each of their significant and meaningful contribution to society since graduating from Bond."

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