Crossroads & Tough Decisions: My Career in Hospitality

on September 5 | in | | with No Comments

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Hi everyone! My name is Patrick Cornelissen. I’m the Director of Operations at Endicott College in Beverly, USA and I’m also a 2002 graduate of Les Roches Marbella. To open the school’s new alumni blog I’ve decided to share a bit of my trajectory from a young student at Les Roches to a faculty member at Endicott College. Hopefully, those who are following similar paths can learn something from my experience.

After receiving my diploma in hospitality management I set off for London where I had taken a position in the housekeeping department at the Four Seasons Canary Wharf Hotel. Housekeeping (like stewarding), as I’m sure many of you know, is usually not “sexy” enough for most of us to begin our careers in. But I took a different approach because I saw the Rooms Division and F&B Departments as the backbone of any successful hotel operation. Understanding these departments by working directly in them is, from my experience, essential for any manager. The complexities of managing a well operated Rooms Division Department involve maintaining employee motivation, overcoming language barriers with staff, physical labor, and some of the most unfashionable working hours of the entire hotel (ok, with the exception of the night audit perhaps).

My experience working at the Four Seasons Canary Wharf also led me to realize that the industry is constantly evolving and to stay ahead of the trends I would need to continue to further my education and training. It was at this point that I found myself at a crossroad when quite by coincidence Endicott College in the US had invited me to work as a teaching assistant, while also allowing me to further my studies. The decision wasn’t an easy one and I pondered on it for several days before coming to the conclusion that I would take a chance to see where it would lead me. Before I knew it I was off to college once again.

Looking back I have no regrets and as of today I am still working at the same college. Although, over the past years my responsibilities have changed drastically and I have since completed my Bachelor degree as well as my Master in Business Administration – both of which I’m proud to say were achieved with summa cum laude honors. You could say I took my commitment to continued education seriously! Today, I continue to teach courses at Endicott and I proudly manage their a la carte restaurant. Managing this restaurant is indeed one of my passions and it has allowed me to use my creativity and professional skills to constantly change and improve it along the way. 

This work led to a shift in my focus and for the past two years I have been organizing the school’s events side, where I am currently serving as the Director of Operations for our event and conference center. Unlike in Europe, most private colleges in the US maximize their revenues by renting out their classrooms and facilities just like a conference center would do. Trying to achieve this within a college setting obviously comes with its own challenges and yes, even frustrations at times. However, the work is very rewarding from various viewpoints and the experience has offered me the chance to train future professionals with the same principals I acquired at Les Roches Marbella.

Ten years after embarking on my professional career path I have amassed considerable experience in many facets of the hospitality industry. Not to mention I possess a considerable academic side as well. With this in mind, I hope this article can offer some useful insight for the younger students who are coming up as part of the new internet generation of professionals.

I have witnessed changes in the new generations that have passed through Endicott over the years. Lately the culture has become much more informal, where interpretations of punctuality and attention to detail often fall short of the demands of the hospitality industry. So I can’t stress enough to both students and working professionals the importance of making a good first impression.  I encourage contemporary thought and a creative work ethic, but professionalism still remains as important today as yesterday.

Your success in the hospitality industry depends on three fundamental components: knowledge, teamwork, and attention to detail. However, the ability to make tough decisions and take risks once in a while should not be overlooked either. This is where Les Roches Marbella gave me the foundation to achieve what I have to date. Back in my days at LRM, the late Mr. Perez, Mr. Hassan and of course Mr. Moore, Mr. T. and Ms. Marco among many others served as role models for these crucial ideals. Their patience and knowledge was conveyed directly to us so we could carry these basic principles forward into our own professional endeavors. I believe my former alumni and I can do the same for the new Les Roches generations that wish to follow in our footsteps.
 

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