Before entering university, Jolene Chong never considered joining the hotel industry. “I [aspired] to be a performer, either to be a singer or dancer,” says Chong, general manager of Hotel Re!, a boutique hotel owned by her family. But her focus later switched from the stage to business management, which attracted her because of its versatility across “any industry and amongst any occupation”. So she studied finance at the National University of Singapore and worked in media sales before entering the hotel industry. As it turns out, it was the right choice: The mother-of-one loves the sales and marketing aspect of her current job, where she thinks of ways to make her modern-retro-themed hotel stand out. “The satisfaction you derive from being able to package and brand something successfully is unbelievable,” says Chong. “Without proper branding, the hotel will be just another building with rooms and food to offer.” Not one for complacency, she is constantly on the lookout for expansion opportunities. “In the corporate world, three senses are critical: Common sense, business sense and market sense,” she says.