IMHI Class of 2016-2017

IMHI Class of 2016-2017
Class of 2016-2017

Monday, March 31, 2014

The IMHI’s at IHIF

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

“Networking is not just about connecting people. It’s about connecting people with people, people with ideas, and people with opportunities.” - Michele Jennae

Each year, ESSEC’s MBA in Hospitality Management Program (IMHI) provides a few fortunate students the opportunity to attend the International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF) in Berlin, Germany. Focusing on bringing together major players in the world of hotel investment, this forum features a number of speakers and events that highlight key trends in the industry, while providing opportunities to strengthen existing business partnerships and to develop new ones.

This year, 2nd Year student, Elise Jarron; 1 Year Track student, Alex Kudla; and myself traveled to Berlin alongside Professor Nicolas Graf. The three days spent at the Intercontinental, Berlin proved to be a truly unique and valuable experience for the three of us. We had the opportunity to meet countless IMHI alumni, in addition to other industry professionals from around the world, as well as attending the many interesting and provocative conferences on the trends and challenges in hotel investment.

Elise Jarron summarized her experience at Berlin with two words: “exhausting, but rewarding. These few days have been a mix of meeting very interesting people, helping to organize the conference and sleeping very few hours. It is quite intimidating to network with such important people who are there for business, but so exciting. It’s been a great experience to participate in such a unique event, where all people from the hospitality world come together for a few days.”

Indeed, the experience, apart from being eye-opening, was also a lesson in time and energy management. In exchange for attending the conference, we were required to help prepare the event and assist in daily administrative tasks with the event organizers. All of this resulted in very little sleep for the three of us, but it was nevertheless a worthwhile experience.

Alex Kudla, who is making a career change from architecture to hospitality through IMHI, also found special value in attending this conference and believed that it “provided the perfect (and slightly intimidating) opportunity to rub shoulders with the Who's Who of the hospitality industry: from global CEOs to the glitterati of the business such as the fabulous Lara Ritter. For me, as an experienced design professional, the event was the ideal interface to discuss the added value of IMHI's MBA as an essential link for the concerns of the hotel business. Especially memorable moments included a panel that featured a lively exchange between the CEOs of Accor, FRHI, ClubMed and Interstate, as well as Ian Schrager's reflections on the anticipation of customers' desires. Decidedly less glamorous, but of almost pressing interest, was a breakout session that discussed the opportunities and risks for operators and investors who are facing an increasing 'sharing economy' built on the innovating models of companies such as AirBnb.”

Alex highlights another of the main takeaways from this conference: the opportunity to learn about different career paths in hotel investment. As future graduates, speaking to professionals working for diverse organizations and players within this complex world opened our eyes to the various roles that we could aspire to upon graduation. From asset management to development to consulting, we saw the many opportunities that exist and the many ways that we as individuals could provide value in the future.

Ultimately, the three-day conference was all about one thing – networking – and highlighted the value in bringing together people, ideas and opportunities in one place at one time. We are very grateful to have experienced IHIF and with new relationships, new ideas and new aspirations, we return to IMHI to complete the last few months of our academic journey.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

4L Trophy – Humanitarian Rally Across the Sahara

By Matthieu Cavelius, MBA in Hospitality Management, France, 2012-2014 2nd Year

4L IMHI - ESSEC is an association that was created 11 years ago by IMHI students. The association forms teams to participate in the 4L Trophy – the largest humanitarian rally open only to students. Every year, this event brings together over 2500 students to participate in a 6000 km race across France, Spain and Morocco to provide school supplies to Moroccan children. The humanitarian actions are coordinated by the French associations “Enfant du Désert” and “Rire Médecin,” which collect school supplies for children and build classrooms. This year, 2 IMHI teams participated in the 4L Trophy. The first one was composed of Caroline Pravongviengkham and Anahita Perineau, and the second one included Pierre-Alexandre Kaouza and myself.

We were told that this project is not one long journey, but three separate journeys: before the race, during the race, and after the race. The necessary qualities for success varied over different stages, but what is sure is that time, hard work, and dedication were needed at all times.

The 4L Trophy project started 7 months before the actual race. This part was probably the most difficult, as we had to find sponsors, gather our 4L team, and prepare for the race. Finding sponsors was tough, but rewarding in terms of developing professional and personal competences. We had to be relentless, convincing, and we often faced rejection, problems, and uncertainty. But in the end, our perseverance and faith in the project are what allowed us to succeed. This is a true preparation for life, as we shall often be confronted with similar obstacles and it goes to show that you should never give up.

On Wednesday, February 12th, after 7 months of preparation, we left for the official departure point at the Parc du Futuroscope in Poitiers. Upon arriving in Poitiers, we had to finalize our registration by validating administrative documents, getting the car inspected, and checking our safety equipment.

This was the beginning of an outstanding journey. We first drove to Algeciras in Spain to take the Ferry for Tangier, Morocco. From there, we were fully immersed in the challenge as we faced sand, rocks, and other 4x4 tracks. The rally of course involved a certain number of difficulties and surprises, such as orientation issues (we got lost in the middle of the desert at night) and a few minor mechanical difficulties. On the other hand, we passed through amazing scenery, sunrises, and sunsets every single day, which made for an unbelievably journey. Throughout the event, we were motivated by the generosity and mutual support that we showed each other, no matter the situation. The grand finale was the marathon challenge during which we were all alone in the desert for 2 days, which made us feel alive and proud. It left us with indescribable good feelings. Throughout the week-long rally, you have to be thoroughly organized, respectful and patient, not only with your team mate, but with all the participants.

The rally was also a great personal development experience. It prepared us to undertake a project from beginning to end, to constantly face the unexpected, and to take quick decisions in “hostile” environments (out of our comfort zones).

We are now beginning the final part of our 4L Trophy 2014 journey; we have to fix up the car, re-sell it, and report our actions to our sponsor.

The 4L Trophy is a once in a lifetime experience that students definitely should participate in. We will remember this journey for the rest of our lives.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Learning from the Leaders

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

As part of the program, ESSEC’s MBA in Hospitality Management Program hosts monthly Industry Leaders Conferences (ILC) during which a number of hospitality professionals present their respective companies, professional experiences and offer advice to help current students determine their career paths and make other decisions.

Since our return from the holiday break in January, we have had the pleasure of welcoming Eric Vincent, CEO of Fauchon; Pierre Charles Grob, Managing Director for Fastbooking; and most recently, Bruno Juin, Managing Director of Hotels for BNP Paribas Real Estate. It is through these conferences that we as IMHI students have the opportunity to learn from the experiences of those that have gone before us and to obtain a greater understanding of the trends in the market that will shape our career prospects upon graduation.


Bruno Juin, himself an IMHI alum from 2000, took the stage in the ESSEC amphitheater for the last ILC of the 2013 – 2014 school year. About 30 students filled the seats of the venue, eager to learn about the hotel real estate market, opportunities in this particular field and Bruno’s own experiences after IMHI.

He began by presenting BNP Paribas Real Estate, where he has reached the position of Managing Director for the Hotels division. Throughout his presentation, we were able to learn more about the general structure and operations of the company, which he highlighted through the presentation of key deals and projects his team has worked on throughout Europe. He also shared with us the different dynamics in major European real estate markets and the role that hotel assets play in each of these different countries.

From there, he switched gears and began sharing his own personal experiences upon graduating from IMHI. He allowed us to learn more about the success and challenges that he encountered throughout his journey and offered valuable advice to those seeking to work in hotel real estate and development in the future. Upon concluding the conference, he gave his “best piece of advice to IMHI students”: Don’t ever give up, and if there is a particular subject that is difficult for you, work especially hard at it.

In conjunction with the many courses offered both within the IMHI program and at ESSEC, these ILCs allow us to truly learn from the leaders we aspire to be like in the future. We are able to interact with and benefit from the extensive IMHI network comprised of professionals who always find the time to give back to the program, many times by directly helping the current students following in their footsteps.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Kempinski Career Day

By Jean-Gabriel Personne, MBA in Hospitality Management, France, 2012-2014 2nd Year

Since I plan to go back to working in hotel operations after my MBA, I was very pleased to learn about the Global Kempinski Career Day at Kempinski Hotel Airport Munich. An opportunity to meet General Managers from several Kempinski properties who will answer your questions and assess your future career potential sounded like a great opportunity… And it proved to be so!

More than 30 General Managers in the hotel lobby made a strong first impression on me. The event got off to a great start; my CV, which I had sent a week before, had caught the attention of two GMs and I had been invited for interviews. The General Managers had a very personal approach and were willing to conduct interviews whether or not you had been previously invited, showing a strong interest in each application. The day went by very quickly; within 3 hours I had met 5 General Managers for interviews had been approached by a personnel management team very keen on staying in touch. In the end, it was a very interesting journey and a great networking opportunity.