Meeting Isadore Sharp as a summer intern at Four Seasons

Isadore Sharp with summer interns at Four Seasons head office

As a third-year Human Resources Management student, I joined Four Seasons Corporate Home Office in Toronto this summer as one of 12 students selected from partner schools for the newly relaunched Four Seasons Summer Internship program.

None of us could have imagined that within our first weeks, we would be sitting down with Founder and Chairman, Mr. Isadore Sharp, for an intimate, inspirational and insightful Q&A. My nerves were high walking into this session, but they immediately subsided once the conversation began. Here are my reflections:

“You do not know right now where you will end up. Don’t plan where you want to be five years from now, just put 100% of yourself into what you are doing right now. Let your heart be your guide.” This is a powerful message Mr. Sharp shared with us, and this theme kept coming up throughout our conversation about how he navigated his professional and personal journey.

Mr. Sharp is a natural storyteller, recalling many experiences and always managing to tie them back to an important lesson. These lessons were authentic, often entertaining, and came from a place of genuine care.

Here are some of my other key takeaways:

  • Don’t lose confidence. It is easy to feel doubt when making important decisions as a young professional. After meeting with Mr. Sharp, I feel a strong sense of self-determination and trust myself to make the right decisions.

  • Change is inevitable. Change management is crucial from both a professional and personal standpoint. As the world is constantly changing, so do expectations. Being able to adapt to change is key to performing well and continuing to grow. Mr. Sharp often said “we get better as we grow bigger” – but only if we adapt and evolve.

  • It’s good to be naïve sometimes. Being naïve usually has a negative connotation, but Mr. Sharp said, “It’s good to be naïve, it helps you take that step out of the bounds of normal.” This reminded me that my own biggest lessons have come from making mistakes through lack of knowledge and experience, yet learned some of the most valuable lessons that I will carry with me.

Another story that stood out to me was when Mr. Sharp talked about how it has always been the goal of Four Seasons to make experiences unforgettable. For example, Four Seasons created the first form of a “remote control” for television, before they became widespread. It was a simple bedside switch to allow customers to be able to turn their televisions off in hotel rooms, from the comfort of their bed. It was just one example of service-focused innovations that make Four Seasons so remarkable.

I have never been a part of an organization where the Founder and Chairman would go out of their way to meet the new interns. This act of interest and generosity shows that the values of Four Seasons are not only focused on guests, but also employees, making all efforts to personalize our experience to make it as unique and meaningful as possible.

I am looking forward to continuing to learn and making the most of my experience here.