Sophia Annour, a Vatel 2012 alumnus, is one of these Vateliens who succeeded quickly: for the past two years she has been the Revenue Inventory Executive for the Middle East & Africa Revenue Management Remote Solutions Organization in the Marriott International Group, based in Dubai. Here, she’ll spell out her recipe for success.
Sophia, what made you choose Vatel after your high school diploma?
I chose Vatel because it is an “ultra professionalizing” program with the ideal combination between theoretical courses in hotel management and practical application of this under real life conditions. Vatel Nimes has a four-star application hotel for its students in which we do our practical application work in each department: in the brasserie restaurant, in the gourmet restaurant, in the kitchens, in accommodations and housekeeping, at the front desk and even at the Vatel Gourmet shop downtown. This very down to earth type of training allowed me to have a global comprehension of how a hotel and its restaurants really work. When I graduated, I felt as if I could do several different types of jobs.
I’ve got really great memories of the time I spent at school in general, where I met a lot of great people and discovered new cultures, even though I stayed in France, thanks to Vatel Nimes’ international outreach, with a campus hosting about half of international students. The years I spent at Vatel served to confirm what I wanted to do as a high school student.
In your opinion, how is Vatel’s teaching concept different from other hotel management schools?
Most of the time, when students graduate, they find it hard to land their first jobs, because they don’t have any professional experience. Vateliens don’t have this problem, because the years of experience they’ve accumulated equal the number of years they attended school. In Vatel, we’re working with real hotel guests, as of our first week! Recruitment officers know this, and that’s the reason why many Vateliens are hired by the company that hosts them for their final internship. Many others are hired elsewhere, without even finishing their missions. Personally, I didn’t even finish my final internship: I was hired before!
What are the best memories you have of your internships?
Discovering new cultures as well as being extremely well managed. I did my final internship in Qatar, in the Renaissance Doha City Center, Courtyard Doha City Center and the Marriott Executive Apartments Doha City Center, three Marriott hotels that were located in the same place (3 packs). I worked for nine months in theRevenue Management department.
What really astounded me when I first arrived, was the number of different nationalities working here: over 42! These nine months were very enriching both from a human and from a professional point of view, as I understood that every culture has its own way of working. So I learned how to adapt myself to people who didn’t follow the same management rules as I did, or who didn’t read out situations in the same way that I did.
Very early on, I was granted quite a few responsibilities, and I appreciated the trust placed in myself, as soon as I arrived. The Revenue Leader let me participate in Sales Strategy meetings, and later on, let me prepare and analyze detailed reports. Then I was allowed to lead market analysis projects and I assisted my colleagues in their daily work. I had great contacts with my managerial team as well as with the personnel, and became friends with many of them.
And do you have fond memories of your first two internships?
I sure do! I did my second year internship at the Hotel Le Plaza Brussels 5* as the Assistant General Manager for four months. As he knew that I liked working with figures, he gave me financial reports to compare and make them into presentations to facilitate their comprehension and analysis. I met the Revenue Manager of this hotel and he told me about Marriott International where he had worked for five years and he advised me to join this group, as it is an expert in this field. And I don’t regret having followed his advice and I’m very grateful for it.
In my first year, I did a six month internship in Cap d’Antibes in the Beach Hotel Relais & Chateaux 5*, located in my home town, where I worked in each department; captain in the restaurant, hostess, cleaning lady, receptionist, and sales and special events assistant. This operational experience was very enriching, because as I worked in each department, that gave me a global comprehension of how they worked together and completed what I had started to learn in Nimes. I knew exactly how much time was needed in each department as well as what challenges there were to overcome. This developed my team spirit, my communication skills and confirmed how important it was to associate solid hotel management bases with hands-on applications of them. How can you be credible to a team you’re managing if you haven’t done their jobs on a daily basis before?
Sophia, how did you get this job you currently have?
While I was doing my Revenue Management internship in Doha, I was able to demonstrate my ability and meet the expectations my Revenue Leader had. He told me that there was a job vacancy in Dubai in the Marriott International. This job was for an entry level position, whose role perfectly matched the training I had received in the 3 pack Doha City Center and the recruitment officer was interested in my profile. My first goal was to do a one year internship in Doha, but after nine months, I quit this internship because I was hired by management at the Marriott, for the job I have today. I really love Revenue Management and my trainers did everything possible so that I would continue my professional career with their group.
Can you tell us about your job?
The geographical zone I’m in charge of has 11 Marriott hotels, located in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Algeria. We’ll have a total of 16 in 2015. I’m mainly in charge of the following functions for the four hotels in our portfolio:
Outside of the four hotels I’m responsible for, I’m also in charge of drawing up daily and monthly reports for the sales figures of the seven other hotels in our portfolio.
In your opinion, what qualities and skills do you need to do this job?
What’s next on your list of ambitions?
Reaching my ongoing goals defined by my managers while continuing to prepare myself to work in a managerial position. I have been living in the Middle East for over two years now, and feel that I’m ready to discover new geographical zones to expand my knowledge in the RM field and quench my thirst for new challenges.
In a few years I’d like to be a multi-hotel Strategic Marketing Manager. After that? I’ve got loads of ideas. Life is made up of surprises and opportunities. Let’s see!
Each year our Group School directors, getting together for the Vatel International Convention, use today’s experiences to continue to invent tomorrow’s schools for our future hospitality professionals.Read more
Vatel cultivates the qualities required to be a good professional in the hospitality industry: being fluent in foreign languages, knowing how to work with other cultures... Hoteliers are attracted by Vatel students’ resumes, as Vateliens can tell us.Read more
François Perraud feels both a hotelier and a financial controller, an expertise that he likes to pass on to Vatel students.Read more
Jeremie de Fombelle has always loved resorts and has seen many of them, before coming to Mauritius. And this is where he really fell in love! But economic competition is stiff. How can you stand out, if not by the quality of your management?Read more
A professor of marketing, corporate promotion and negotiation, Sophie Lot loves adult education and teaches at Vatel Switzerland.Read more
Thanatat Boonpeng: a young Vatel graduate at Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok.Read more
Every day, Vatel students and instructors prepare for class, study, and fan the flames of their curiosity, thanks to the cutting-edge digital library provided by the ScholarVox platform. Come right this way for digital access to knowledge!Read more
An MBA specializing in ecotourism opens in Madagascar. This island has all it takes to materialize this demanding approach of responsible and innovative tourism.Read more
New ideas, enthusiasm, the desire to embrace a gourmet universe: Jerome Ferrer’s story has all the ingredients that inspire the best “success stories” to strategy professors!Read more
The hospitality and tourism industries are particularly concerned by sustainable development. And what if Vatel alumni played a key part in this transition towards more environmentally friendly hotel management?Read more
Travel broadens the mind, as the old saying goes. It also leads to unconventional restaurants. Let’s meet two Vateliens who founded Le Kaya Restaurant in Tignes.Read more
Besides having a Bachelor or an MBA Vatel, what does being a Vatelien mean?Read more
Throughout their entire careers, Vatel alumni remain in touch with their schools. This is also true for Kevin Tessieux, who has never forgotten that he was also once a student, and who now shares this knowledge with students today.Read more
Chahrazade Baroudi, a Vatelien since 2013, describes her job as Marketing and Communication Manager in IDAM, Alain Ducasse’s restaurant on the top floor of the Doha Museum of Islamic Art, in Qatar.Read more
Future hospitality professionals, welcome to Vatel’s 100% management simulation serious game! For an entire week and on three continents, MBA students met the challenge of managing a 4-star hotel and a resort in the Indian Ocean. The winners are...Read more
Who is Gaelle Garnier, the new manager of the network of 35,000 Vatel alumni throughout the world? Let’s meet a Vatelien who works with Vateliens!Read more
The 25th Eurhodip conference, which Vatel took part in, took place in Croatia. Targeting responsible tourism, this conference allowed participants to have more information on opening higher education courses in the field of sustainable development.Read more
Designed to address the needs of the global hospitality industry, the Marco Polo program strengthens the international profile Vatel students have and has just received the prestigious Best Innovation in an Educational Program Award.Read more
Graduated in 2011, Alexis Bouche began his career in England. Six years later, he returned to France and is now the Sales Manager of the 5-star hotel, Villa Maïa.Read more
Nearly 40 years old, and now 50 campuses in 32 different countries: Vatel Group opened its first school in Paris and is continuing to grow and duplicate its innovative educational concept in schools abroad.Read more
Trained at Vatel Nimes ten years ago, Chloe Wu has a brilliant career in China. She no longer works in the hospitality industry, but has not forgotten her passion of hospitality and service...Read more
Vatelalumni.com, free and connected to your LinkedIn profile, will soon be one of your favorite internet sites!
The Vatel International Research Center in Hotel and Tourism Managementhas just published the 10th edition of its Journal, which targets research and reflections on changes taking place in the hospitality and tourism industries.Read more
Curiosity, humility, team spirit... A Vatelien shares his commitment to values his school transmitted to him.
The same international spirit that students have Vatel and 4 students in nursing undertake a humanitarian project in Madagascar.Read more
A traveler - salesman - ambassador, Marco Polo introduced Asia, at that time nearly unknown, to Europe. This inspirational fate has given its name to Vatel’s international exchange program, where students can study at another Vatel campus for a year.Read more
The most senior representatives in the international hospitality industry give Vatel the Best School Hospitality Award. An entire profession thus acclaims them.Read more
Learning the skills needed to be a manager, quick employability, international careers... Vatel, the passport that gets you hired. See the video.Read more
A professor of hospitality management, restaurant services and tourism management for over 28 years, Pat Golden-Romero teaches MBA Vatel courses at Vatel San Diego, USA.Read more