Director, Learning & Development, Asia Pacific - Forbes Travel Guide
Angelina Phua has a strong foundation in hotel operations and rich on-property experience across a range of full-service and luxury brands, including Swissôtel, Marriott, Sheraton and St. Regis. Having worked in hotels since the early 2000s, her expertise spans a multitude of departments, including food and beverage, rooms division, conference services and sales, and marketing. Phua earned an MBA in International Hospitality Management at ESSEC Business School in Paris through a partnership with Cornell University, and has studied extensively in the field of hospitality in Switzerland and Singapore. After working at several Starwood and Marriott properties in both Singapore and the United States, Phua joined Hotel IQ in 2011 as a consultant guiding hotel management teams to improve their services and meet brand requirements. This opportunity provided her insight into the brand management of many astute companies such as Swissôtel Hotels and Resorts and Hyatt International. As a consultant for LRA Worldwide, Phua helped hotel brands build strong reputations. She led a variety of client programs including training, staffing, evaluations, assessments and incentive programs. Many times over, Phua was recognized for her accomplishments and outstanding contributions by both the company and clients alike. Later, as operations manager for the Asia Pacific region, Phua developed QA programs for highly esteemed hotel brands, including Starwood, Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts, Accor Hotels, Preferred Hotel and Resorts, Worldhotels and Wyndham Hotels and Resorts. Now as a member of the Forbes Travel Guide training team, Phua is highly-focused and experienced in the gaming and integrated resort industry in Macau and Manila. She has designed numerous training programs, uniquely customized to the needs of each individual property -- from pre-opening to mature teams that have a vast difference in property size and staff strength. Phua is greatly recognized in the industry for her contribution in assisting teams to learn and rediscover their roles in the hospitality industry. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.
Vice President of Training Services - Forbes Travel Guide
Gina Taylor holds the unique position within Forbes Travel Guide as the longest serving employee, having joined in January 2004. Since that time, she has held roles ranging from the Senior Manager of Facility Inspectors, to the Vice President of Operations, to an Executive Trainer, to now overseeing a team of 20 trainers and scheduling thousands of hours of training days. An experienced and accomplished hospitality professional, Taylor continues to serve as an often-requested trainer due to her engaging style and commitment to the standards. While working within various client-facing positions in the company, Taylor fostered strong relationships with such distinguished hotel partners as Dorchester Collection, Mandarin Oriental, and Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. In her current role as Vice President of Training Services, she remains passionate about empowering others and brings an intimate knowledge of Five-Star standards and the evaluation process to the table. Taylor most recently served as Director of Partner Services, where she focused on enhancing partner management and working with properties from a corporate brand standpoint. As Vice President of Consulting Operations, she oversaw quality assessments, and learning and development programs. While managing the recruitment and training of all inspectors, she was accountable for the full scope of evaluation services, as well as the implementation of the Forbes Travel Guide standards within countless evaluation reports. Prior to joining Forbes Travel Guide, Taylor spent 13 years in meeting and convention services. Her work included managing show logistics for some of the largest trade associations in the country, including the National Association of REALTORS®, along with meetings and events at some of the finest hotels in the world. When not enjoying time with her family, Taylor volunteers with her friend and founder of the Home2Home project. The H2H Project is an organization that assists families in need as they transition into a place to live, many after being homeless, by providing furnishings and supplies.
Jeffrey J. Wielgopolan
Senior Vice President, Learning & Development - Forbes Travel Guide
Since joining Forbes Travel Guide in 2005, Jeff Wielgopolan has served as the senior manager of the Quality Assurance Division, an incognito inspector and now senior vice president of Learning and Development. In his current role, Wielgopolan works with the finest hotels, restaurants and spas across the globe to improve service, staff confidence and knowledge, and to further properties' understanding of Forbes Travel Guide Star Rating Standards. Prior to his tenure at the company, he worked at Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts and was the dining room director at Tru. He is certified under the Court of Master Sommeliers and served as a panelist for the Cornell Hotel School's Hospitality Research Summit. Wielgopolan is an Honorary Member of Les Clefs d'Or, and was the Educational Speaker for the group's annual International Congress in 2013 and 2015.
Joseph W. Dupree
Executive Trainer Forbes - Travel Guide
Joe Dupree is the third generation of his family to build a dedicated career in the hospitality industry. Prior to joining the Forbes Travel Guide team, he was the Regional Director of Talent Development for Hyatt Hotels Corporation and was responsible for notable performance growth within North America. Over the course of his tenure with Hyatt, Dupree spearheaded development programs and training initiatives focused on service enhancement for 26 properties across the spectrum of the company’s brands. After graduating from Paul Smith’s College with a degree in Hotel Management, Dupree further honed his talents, passion and commitment to excellence during a 15-year career with Four Seasons Hotels. While there, he held management positions in both food and beverage and rooms divisions, in roles ranging from Assistant Executive Steward to Director of Rooms. Willing to move to grow, he lived and worked at properties in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Newport Beach and Austin, and finally settled with his family in the Long Island, New York area. Dupree attributes much of his success to the exceptional opportunities he was afforded while with the Four Seasons, including extensive training and development, working at six world-class properties and leading as part of two opening management teams. In addition to his degree in hotel management and his 20 years of industry experience, Dupree is also a certified practitioner of the Myers-Briggs personality assessment and a 360 Degree Executive Coach. He is an active member of several charitable organizations and has been a contributing member and youth coach for a community hockey league for the past seven years.
Director, Learning & Development, The Americas Forbes Travel Guide
Megan Torrance has spent over 15 years working extensively in luxury property operations. From large, prestigious resorts to small Relais & Châteaux hotels, Torrance has garnered broad management experience across virtually every operational function, including executive management roles at star-rated properties. Driven by the vision of delivering outstanding service, Torrance has been singularly instrumental in leading hospitality teams in the application of Forbes Travel Guide standards. Torrance’s passion for luxury hotels and service led to a degree in Hospitality Business from Michigan State University. Immediately following, she secured a career starter on food and beverage teams at Four Seasons hotels in Chicago and at the Aviara property in Carlsbad, California. While working in Telluride, Colorado, Torrance transitioned to the rooms division, gained critical human resources skills, and then progressed onto a management path where she gained experience across every operational outlet and oversaw a resort-based Homeowner’s Association (HOA). Equipped with an in-depth, comprehensive understanding of hotel management, Torrance went on to assume the role of Assistant General Manager of Lake Placid Lodge, eventually becoming the Residence Manager. Building upon this success, she later served as the General Manager of the Point resort, and Hotel and Residence Manager at Calistoga Ranch, an Auberge Resort. Prior to starting at Forbes Travel Guide, Torrance had become deeply involved in internal leadership development and the cultivation of in-house and new talent. Focused on guiding teams to achieve the highest luxury standard, she zeroed in on consistent training of hospitality staff, ensuring top level commitment that led to the regular extension of coveted star rankings. She now brings these superior service values to the table as an Director of Learning & Development for the Americas. Torrance has trained on five continents, from small boutique hotels in ski towns, to vast, multi-purpose properties in Paris, Tokyo, Saudi Arabia and Macau.
Executive Trainer - Forbes Travel Guide
Melanie Whitaker has a gift for developing hotel brand ambassadors that deliver outstanding personal service. Before joining Forbes Travel Guide in 2015, Whitaker spent more than 10 years at Starwood Hotels and Dorchester Collection in the United States and Europe. Over this time, she became professionally versed in implementing new learning initiatives and unfolding top-notch frontline staff capabilities. Most recently, Whitaker served as the Director of Learning and Development for Dorchester Collection’s hotels in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. Following graduation from Appalachian State University with a major in hospitality and tourism management, Whitaker began her career in the rooms division of a Four- Star resort hotel in North Carolina. A few years later, she combined her enthusiasm for hospitality with her love of travel and moved to London to work at Starwood Hotels, where she gained invaluable experience and fine-tuned her skills. Her interest in developing others was apparent from the beginning of her career, and Whitaker began to pursue this passion in London, transitioning into learning and development full time. During her tenure with Dorchester Collection in Europe, Whitaker led the Learning and Development team that opened 45 Park Lane in London and Coworth Park in Ascot. In her role as Director, she successfully created an induction process and wrote leadership development courses that were launched at all hotels within this luxury collection. When Forbes Travel Guide expanded into Europe, Whitaker helped The Dorchester and 45 Park Lane achieve Five-Star status, and Coworth Park earn an Editors’ Pick. Now as an Executive Trainer, Whitaker brings proven expertise in shaping diverse talent to the table, with notable proficiencies in integrating new skills and behaviors, building team cohesion and cultivating the drive for high levels of performance. In addition to her degree and extensive knowledge of the luxury hospitality industry, she holds certifications as a Myers-Briggs and FIRO-B practitioner and is also a trained Gallup Strengthsfinder coach.