Alumni Views: An Interview with Paulo Palhota, Postgraduate 2012

on October 3 | in | | with No Comments


It is always a joy for us at Les Roches Marbella to hear the success stories of our Alumni.  However, it’s not often that we hear such stories from alumni who are less than a year removed from our university. In this edition of Alumni Views, we spoke with an alumnus of the 2012 Postgraduate in Hospitality Management program, Paulo Palhota, a 29 year old from El Faro, Portugal, who is already on his way to building a successful career in Hospitality.

Paulo Palhota came to Les Roches Marbella with a university degree in Geography. Although Geography, on the face of it, may appear to be unrelated to the Hospitality Industry, in the case of Paulo, Geography and hospitality go hand in hand. Having travelled to 60 countries around the world, Paulo is listed by as the “most travelled Portuguese” under 30 years old. When it came time to consider a new direction for his career, Hospitality Management was a natural choice for him.

During the intensive semester he spent studying at Les Roches Marbella, Paulo became convinced that the hospitality industry was just what he had been looking for. Right after graduating from the Postgraduate program in December of 2012, he set out to find a hotel of international renown where he could apply his newly acquired skills and continue to develop professionally. He chose Ritz-Carlton’s five-star Abama Golf & Spa Resort in the Canary Islands.

We asked Paulo why he chose the Ritz-Carlton company and he says it was a combination of factors but, “gaining managerial experience in one of the top hotel chains in the world, the Ritz Carlton, in a place with similar social/weather conditions to my hometown, where I could improve my language skills and keep working with the three tourism markets I know best (German, English and Spanish)”, made the choice that much easier.

Ritz-Carlton Abama Golf & Spa Resort – Tenerife

During his training internship at Abama Golf & Spa Resort, Paulo worked most of the time in the Guest Relations and Guest Recognition departments. Reflecting on his experience, he said, “Fortunately I had the chance to work in four other departments as well: Reception, Golf Reservations, and Butler & Guest Services. This gave me the chance to undertake a really valuable cross-training internship."

He continued by adding that, “I learned a great deal about contact with guests, how to be more confident in my decisions, social interaction skills, flexibility and multitasking under high pressure situations. For the first time I had the chance to work in a company with over 500 employees and that made it even more challenging.”

As he begins to list the accolades and letters of gratitude from the hotel’s guests, it becomes apparent that Paulo had little trouble meeting the challenges posed by such a prestigious hotel group as Ritz-Carlton. Indeed, he was Ritz-Carlton Europe’s “wow story of the month” for his exceptional work in Guest Relations, an achievement that has never been won by a trainee and earned him recognition from the hotel chain’s European Vice-President and the General Manager of Abama Golf & Spa Resort.

Furthermore, Paulo was the winner of the Front-of-House 5 Star Trainee Award among the fifty trainees from hospitality schools around the world. Always looking out for his colleagues, Paulo mentions Rui Mocho (also a Les Roches Marbella trainee), who won the Back-of-House 5 Star Trainee Award alongside him. During his semester of training at Abama Golf & Spa Resort, another two Les Roches Marbella trainees, Gonzalo Marquez and Yanzhe Qu, were promoted with work contracts in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.

Ritz Carlton Wow Story of The Month (Click on image to enlarge)

Reflecting on his management training experience at Abama Golf & Spa Resort, Paulo says, “I learned a lot about contact with guests while developing my social interaction skills. I also learned how to be more confident in my decisions, to be flexible in the workplace and how to multitask under the pressure of a fast-paced environment. Not to mention, I had the opportunity to work in a high-end hotel that employs nearly 500 people and this made everything even more challenging.”

Three months after completing his internship with the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Paulo is back in his home country of Portugal and working with Newtour, an international tour operator based in Lisbon. He is responsible for the company’s International Incoming Department that caters to European and American tourists visiting Portugal’s famed destinations in the Azores and Cape Verde Islands.

Paulo and Colleagues of the Guest Relations Department

Talking about his new professional venture, he stated, “I am excited to continue working in the hospitality & tourism industry and I look forward to gaining more international experience while growing as a professional and helping tourism development in my own country.”
He goes on to talk about his experience of studying at Les Roches Marbella, “Earning my Postgraduate Diploma in Hospitality Management helped to gain a more international perspective and prepared me to easily start working right away in the industry. My time at the school allowed me to work and learn with the best hospitality professionals.”

Wrapping up our interview with Paulo, we asked him for his insights on the future of the hospitality industry. He concludes saying, “I believe travel and tourism will continue grow around the world as it is made available to more and more people each year. Although technology is moving at a pace that seems to make travel unnecessary, the fact is people are travelling more than ever. Technology together with easier access to global destinations will open a whole new range of opportunities in the industry and I hope to make an impact on this new trend well into the future.”

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