IMHI Class of 2016-2017

IMHI Class of 2016-2017
Class of 2016-2017

Monday, January 27, 2014

Le Meridien Etoile: A new perspective on Paris

By Gabriella de la Torre, MBA in Hospitality Management, Mexico & USA, 2012-2014 2nd Year

“I feel that what we get from art is a sense of wonder, or something beyond ourselves, that celebrates our ‘being’ here.” - Trevor Bell

To kick off hotel visits in the new year, IMHI students were invited to Le Meridien’s first property in the world, Le Meridien Etoile. This iconic hotel, located a stone’s throw away from the Palais des Congrès Convention Center, bustled with life as we entered the lobby on a Wednesday morning. Business travelers, families and large leisure groups alike whizzed in and out of the hotel’s revolving doors, while other guests sat tranquilly, sipping on their drink of choice in the Jazz Club. Amid all this activity, we were warmly welcomed by Remco Van Kamp, Front of the House and Quality Manager, and his assistant manager, Sophia Benmallek, who led us to the conference rooms of the hotel in order to first present Starwood, Le Meridien and this particular property.

Throughout their presentation, Mr. Van Kamp and Ms. Benmallek delved into the details surrounding the hotel and its focus on providing guests a unique view of Paris. Our hosts highlighted the different initiatives the hotel had undertaken in order to create this unorthodox perspective of the City of Lights, while presenting the various challenges that come with running the 1,025-room property. Furthermore, learning about the strategies and organization of the greater parent group, Starwood, allowed us to gain a deeper understanding about the workings of an international hotel group and the benefits that come with allowing guests to choose from a wide variety of brands that cater to diverse lifestyles and customer segments.

After their detailed presentation, Mr. Van Kamp and Ms. Benmallek guided us throughout the hotel to visit various room types, highlighting the brand’s focus on providing a modern environment for its guests. We also had the opportunity to visit the newly renovated Ma Chère et Tendre steakhouse, which provides both hotel guests and external customers a unique dining experience in an area inundated with food and beverage offerings.

From beginning to end, our hosts emphasized the place of art within Le Meridien Etoile: the modern designs on the hotel doors, separating the world outside from the world within; the artfully-decorated room keys that also serve as access to the Palais de Tokyo museum of art; and the artwork made purely out of Legos with the help of the hotel staff. These details filled us with admiration throughout our visit and further reinforced the idea of new, modern perspectives. We exited Le Meridien’s large, artful doors into the busy, everyday life of IMHI students with more knowledge about the industry that moves us and with a sense of wonder inspired by the creativity of this unique property.

Monday, January 20, 2014

And We're Back...

By Gabriella de la Torre, MBA in Hospitality Management, Mexico & USA, 2012-2014 2nd Year

“And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.” - Rainer Maria Rilke

It’s a new year with new courses, professors and challenges for the students at IMHI. After the holiday break, we have all returned to ESSEC and can see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel: Graduation Day. Just two weeks into the second trimester, and we are already busily studying and preparing presentations, group projects, homework assignments and learning how to balance it all amidst upcoming job and internship applications.

In addition to IMHI classes, a number of us have chosen to explore other passions and interests through the form of ESSEC courses. From “Advanced Excel for Managers” to “Chinese” and “Managing Conflict” to “Spanish,” both first year and second year students are able to take advantage of the ESSEC curriculum and find ways to differentiate and further bolster their resumes, while diving more deeply into subjects that interest them.

In my own case, and in that of five other IMHI students, this path of discovery includes a Beginner’s Arabic course. A challenging and hopefully rewarding experience awaits us over the next three months; and although personal motivations for studying Arabic vary from one student to another, the central theme remains: The ability to better serve and communicate with international travelers.

Being able to complement MBA-specific courses with a wide range of ESSEC electives that cater to very different interests is one of the many perks of being a part of the IMHI program. Thanks to this option, the next trimester is likely to be full of new experiences and discoveries.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

IMHI Traiteur: For the Love of Food

By Gabriella de la Torre, MBA in Hospitality Management, Mexico & USA, 2012-2014 2nd Year

“There is no sincerer love than the love of food.” - George Bernard Shaw

On a chilly Wednesday just before the evening’s Industry Leaders Conference, I waited at The Lab in anticipation of the arrival of the members of the student catering organization, IMHI Traiteur. After a couple of minutes, two second-year students, Pauline Acheron and Caroline Pravongviengkham, arrived bearing a multitude of different, colorful dishes they had prepared with their fellow chefs, Gaëlle Nziwoué and Ioanna Prousali. It was 4:00 PM, and they had been toiling in the kitchen since 10:30 the same morning. Quite frankly, had I been the one doing so, I would have arrived that afternoon with clear signs of stress and fatigue, but they were quite the contrary, bustling and hustling in high spirits.

This association represents a true passion for the five ladies that spend roughly two days a week preparing for the events for which they provide their services. “Our common passion for food was what led us together. We are running this association for the pleasure of cooking, discovering and working with new products,” states Pauline when asked about the motivation behind IMHI Traiteur. Furthermore, these talented cooks strive to allow “people [to] discover new tastes, flavors and dishes.”

IMHI Traiteur is a catering association run by students of ESSEC’s MBA in Hospitality Management. The group offers its catering services to a wide range of organizations on campus, particularly the IMHI administration for its weekly Industry Leaders Conferences featuring different guest speakers from the hospitality industry. IMHI Traiteur provides a wide variety of foods for the participants and attendees of these events, and the food on display highlights the group’s ambition to “work as much as [they] can with home-made products, [many times] creating [their] own macaroons, brioche and mousse” for example. Having had previous experience in the kitchen, the members each come up with innovative and unique dishes to satisfy their clients and to truly highlight their love for food. Apple and raisin crumble, blue potato chips and a praline chocolate dessert are some of the few items that I had the opportunity to taste on this particular day. One word: delicious!

Amidst their high energy and enthusiasm for this cause, however, the members acknowledge the fact that finding time for their passion is quite difficult given all the schoolwork and other obligations they each have. Pauline states that “time is the most challenging part of being involved in IMHI Traiteur. All the members of the association are second-year students. Rachel Silbermann was still in her apprenticeship during this first trimester, while others are [simultaneously] involved in associations such as 4L IMHI or the student office. Finding the right balance between our classes, our commitment to other associations and IMHI Traiteur” demands a high level of organization.

Despite these challenges, however, these five women are committed through the end of the school year to share their sincere love and passion with their clients and fellow classmates, in the hopes of providing them the opportunity to share in their culinary experiences and rediscover the many facets of food.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Juggling the Academic and Professional World

By Scott Gordon, MBA in Hospitality Management, USA & France, 2012-2014 2nd Year

With Yann Caillère, former CEO of Accor, in Warsaw
for the first annual Sofitel Sales Ambassadors Meeting
After a sunny year in Dubai, where I participated in the “Sofitel School of Excellence” MIT program as Assistant Revenue Manager at the Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach, I was fortunate enough to continue my adventure with the Accor Group in Paris.

Accor offered me the opportunity to continue with them through the apprenticeship program offered by the MBA in Hospitality Management at ESSEC. A couple of days after my arrival in Paris, I joined the Sofitel Worldwide team as a Project Manager reporting to the Senior VP Sales & Marketing, encompassing Revenue Management, Pricing and Distribution.

Getting into the rhythm was a bit complex at first. Having to juggle between classes at ESSEC for 3 days a week then work at Accor for 2 days was difficult, especially knowing the amount of work that needed to be delivered for electives such as Financial Accounting or Business Computing. Once I got the rhythm down, however, everything ran flawlessly for the next 6 months. Being able to apply theoretical concepts learned in class to real life cases was very interesting and stimulating.

L-R: Axel MANGEZ (VP Sales & Distribution Sofitel
WW) - Rick Harvey LAM (SVP Sales & Marketing
Sofitel WW) - Myself
Once T1 and T2 were completed, all apprentices were required to spend 9 months full time in their respective companies. This allowed me to focus 100% on my missions at Accor.

The key objective of my job is to ensure that projects are delivered on time, within budget and are achieving the required results. I was assigned responsibility for what my boss calls P.P.P.I.I.I. (Planning, Processes, Performance, Integration, Implementation and Insights).

Through all the projects I’ve worked on, I had the opportunity to work on some high profile projects such as the development of a cross-selling program for the brand, a project where we teamed up with Advancy, a strategy-consulting firm. I also managed the creation of an ICP (Integrated Communication Plan), a document encompassing all upcoming actions in terms of Sales & Marketing. One of my favorite projects was the development of what we called “Sofitel Sales Ambassadors.” This consisted of selecting and training a “Sofitel Sales Specialist,” the “go-to” person for selling Sofitel hotels, in each and every Accor global sales offices in the world. The creation of this process was highly strategic for the brand and resulted in important new incremental sales.

With colleagues during a team
Project Management is captivating because it allows you to support various projects and the ability to work with multiple departments on cross-functional projects is enriching. Even though challenging at times, the apprenticeship program offered by the MBA in Hospitality Management is one of a kind!  Being able to be both a student and an employee simultaneously gives you the best of both worlds.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Play the BDE Lottery, Claim your Prize… Guaranteed

By Gabriella de la Torre, MBA in Hospitality Management, Mexico & USA, 2012-2014 2nd Year

With final exams and presentations around the corner, the IMHI BDE, or equivalent of the student council for ESSEC’s MBA in Hospitality Management Program, prepared a fun and exciting way to raise funds for the July 2014 graduation.

Cheering and laughing could be heard coming from a table just outside the school cafeteria. I found myself in front of the members of this organization who were excitedly presenting students with different prizes. The BDE organized a raffle, asking participants to pay just 1 euro in exchange for a ticket with a sure chance of winning one of the many prizes spread out elegantly on the table. The members of the BDE were able to secure sponsorships from companies including Disneyland Paris, Coca-Cola, Parker Pen and Veet, among others. One lucky winner even walked away with tickets to Eurodisney!

As a result of their great effort, the BDE was able to raise a significant amount for the upcoming graduation and will continue to provide fun events for IMHI and ESSEC students alike, while finding innovative ways to support the ceremony marking the end of a great journey for themselves and their fellow classmates. It is thanks to the members of this organization that a vibrant student life exists for the students of ESSEC’s MBA in Hospitality Management program.