North Island College Tourism Graduate Aims to "Empress"

NIC tourism graduate Chelsey Stickney is one of the faces some of Victoria’s most elite guests will meet after checking into Victoria’s Fairmont Empress hotel – a national historic site that has hosted royalty and Hollywood stars.

Stickney, who earned her Tourism and Hospitality Management diploma in 2016, now works as a Fairmont Gold assistant manager at the Empress – serving guests who have signed up for exclusive services with the hotel chain.

It’s a dream job that Stickney landed thanks to her previous work experience at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, where she worked as a Gold concierge and supervisor.

“We are pleased to welcome Chelsey Stickney to our team,” said Duane Lachance, Fairmont Gold manager. “With her background in luxury fishing lodging and our sister Fairmont Gold at Fairmont Chateau Whistler, we look forward to Chelsey making her own mark on the experience here at Fairmont Empress as she continues to expand her hospitality career.”

Stickney quickly learned the ropes of the business after starting her job at the Chateau Whistler.

“I started right before winter festivities, so I hit the ground running,” she said. “It was a huge learning curve, but I like it. They spend a lot of time training you.”

Stickney had already worked in her hometown of Campbell River as a resort and restaurant manager at Nootka Wilderness Lodge, where she also booked and cleaned rooms for guests.

But she had dreams of working at an international hotel chain where chances of travel and adventure were assured.

She got her chance after being nominated for a Tourism Industry Partners Award. At the reception, she spotted the director of human resources for Fairmont Hotels and introduced herself.

“I said that I didn’t really care what I did – I just wanted to work for you,” Stickney said, recalling the encounter.

The introduction led to an interview and eventually a job offer. Now at the Empress, she looks forward to opportunities to take on more responsibilities within the organization in the future.

She said her education at NIC was a big part in getting to that next step in her career.

“Going back to school really gave me the confidence to go for the job I wanted,” she said. “(Instructor) Deborah Forsyth pushed me to get out of my comfort zone in every class I had with her. With running the wine fest as well as our speaker series special events it really helped me to utilize the skills I had and gain new ones and pushed me to an even higher level.”

Stickney said approaching each job as a learning experience was key to her success.

“Work from the ground up,” she said. “Never feel too proud to do any job as every job has something to teach you. Work hard and trust that the people who are leading you may see something you don't, and take every opportunity you are given no matter how big or how small.”

For more information on tourism and hospitality training at NIC, visit