IMHI Class of 2016-2017

IMHI Class of 2016-2017
Class of 2016-2017

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Post-Graduation: An IMHI Reflection

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

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.” - R.E.M.

The first half of July, filled with final presentations and teary goodbyes has whizzed past, ultimately culminating in the IMHI graduation ceremony to celebrate our achievement. Now after dancing the night away at the Automobile Club de France, showing family around Paris and moving out and on, there is some peace and quiet to reflect on the significance of the past two years at ESSEC.


A World of Challenges

For myself and for many of my classmates, IMHI represented a great challenge in a variety of respects: Difficult schoolwork and short (sometimes seemingly impossible) deadlines, tough team dynamics, a new environment faraway from home. The program challenged each of us in a different way, many times shaking us at our very core. More than learning what was written in the countless textbooks we were required to read, what this challenge provoked was a greater understanding of ourselves, of how to learn, of how to work, of how to perform with others. For many, the past two years were marked by periods of extreme stress, but ultimately (as evidenced by the rows of caps and gowns that lined the library of the Automobile Club de France on July 9th) we all came out on top. We all fought and made it through the IMHI labyrinth, each of us using the skills and talents that define us as individuals.

A World of Exposure

The IMHI program opened our eyes to a vast, new world: New subjects and trends characterizing the hospitality industry, different languages and cultures represented by the program’s students, unknown cities and professional missions undertaken in apprenticeships and internships alike. The entire experience was a journey of discovery, which again helped reveal more about our strengths, our weaknesses and how to best join forces with those around us in order to achieve a common goal.

A World of Friendship

What would IMHI be without the fellow classmates with whom we shared each experience? In addition to learning, studying and working, some tremendously deep and powerful friendships were created over the years spent at ESSEC. These friends, many of whom will travel to the far corners of the globe to pursue their diverse careers, will maintain a special place in our hearts with the hope of one day being reunited by the passion for hospitality that brought us all to IMHI one or two years ago. Besides learning from the professors and courses provided throughout the duration of the program, many of us discovered a great deal from those who sat beside us in the classrooms of the Galion.

A World of Growth

The people we were entering and exiting IMHI are two different characters. Influenced by new spheres of the industry, diverse work experiences and a variety of professors, we have each grown in our own unique ways. Thanks to the challenges, exposure and friendships that have characterized these past two years.


And now looking back at the world that we once new, a world of challenges, exposure, friendship and growth, we close the chapter of a truly unique experience in our lives. Taking all of the things we have learned, the places we have been and the people we have met, we come out on the other side of this experience changed and ready for the challenges, exposure, friendship and growth that await us in our future careers. It’s the end of the IMHI world as we know it, but with the past two years under our belt, there’s no doubt in my mind that we’ll be fine.

Friday, July 25, 2014

So what… Is the big deal about CSI?

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

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” - Phil Jackson

One of our final blogs for the year, and you all are probably tired of hearing about the famous (or infamous depending on your perspective) course called CSI. With the project reports turned in to Steigenberger Hotel Group and the final presentations executed in front of company executives and Professor Nicolas Graf, this blog will focus on my personal experience with what I believe to be the one of the most valuable, challenging and exciting courses in the entire IMHI program.


CSI: Competitive Strategic Intelligence… Or Chipotle, Stress and Imagination

The CSI journey began in April with the determination of the different groups. The morning we received the email with the list of group leaders, a flurry of messages, phone calls, and personal meetings occurred almost instantaneously, as each student sought to secure the best group based on his or her own individual criteria. The group that I had the good fortune of being a part of was made up of students from all over the world – yours truly from the US, Alexandra from Peru, Alex from Germany, Ioanna from Greece and Sara from Lebanon. But there was one characteristic that united us all: a strong determination to provide an excellent deliverable for Steigenberger Hotel Group.

Funnily enough, many of us had never worked in a group setting together. Nevertheless, from the first group meeting that we had at the beginning of May, each of us put our best foot forward for the benefit of the group. Assignment after assignment, we worked hard to present a concise, pertinent and creative analysis to Professor Graf.

It was not always easy, however. Rounds of feedback sessions, countless day-long (and sometimes night-long) meetings, thousands of cells in Excel and lines in Word documents. Emails back and forth regarding global trends that could impact our recommendations, competitive methods that the firm should focus on and when and where would be our next group meeting inundated our inboxes for the entire two months of the experience. Early morning trains to Cergy, to La Defense and back to Paris became even more a part of our weekly routines. It was exhausting both physically and mentally to be entirely honest, and there were moments of extreme stress for the entire group, such as the time when we worked the entire day to submit our second assignment before the midnight deadline; the five of us crammed into a small Parisian apartment, each of us working on a different computer, shouting from the kitchen to the not-so-faraway living room asking for information about this country’s GDP and that country’s number of inbound tourists, for services offered by this hotel brand compared to that one. And all the while, the minutes ticked away at seemingly lightning speed. Or the time the five of us spent the night in Cergy, again in order to make yet another deadline, having dinner after hours of non-stop work in a nearby restaurant almost in complete silence, our brains virtually fried.

Boy, was it stressful… But it is an experience that I will never forget not only because of its educational and professional merits, but also because of the four people that I had the opportunity to get to know even better and whom I can now call some of my closest friends. There were very positive moments, such as our countless lunches at the nearby Chipotle restaurant whenever we met at ESSEC’s La Defense campus, the many laughs we shared about everything and anything during work sessions, the immense feeling of joy when our financial forecasts turned out not to be negative… In addition to everything that I learned about the methodology to determine future opportunities in hospitality, these are the moments I will most cherish and remember. I learned so much about myself during the two months that constituted the project, and more than anything, I learned a great deal from my four teammates who were each tremendously gifted and talented in their own domains.

Looking back on the entire CSI project, I can say with certainty that it is one of the most rewarding experiences that I have had during my time at IMHI, and this is in great part due to my four teammates. Pushing through the challenges, strengthening each other and finding the right balance between work and play was what made working on the project truly satisfying and enjoyable. It is a part of IMHI that I will never forget, carrying with me the lessons and memories from Peru, Germany, Greece and Lebanon as I embark onto the next chapter of my professional career.

Monday, July 7, 2014

IMHI & Entrepreneurship Part 2: Tiller Systems

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

As a sequel to the first blog on live entrepreneurship at IMHI, we have the opportunity to learn more about yet anther project that has been created, launched and executed just under our noses: Tiller Systems. Second-year IMHI students, Josef Bovet and Scott Gordon, are at the head of this venture, which “develops and sells innovative point-of-sale systems for bars and restaurants worldwide.” Scott goes on to describe their company as integrating, “the latest technology into a smart and intuitive Point-of-Sale (POS) system to bring mobility, simplicity and efficiency into restaurant operations, [enabling] restaurant owners to boost their security, administer payroll, track inventory, manage reservations and handle CRM.”

Today, Tiller Systems is close to launching the first version of their product, which aims “to provide restaurant owners a turnkey solution that will enable them to manage expenses closely while growing sales and gaining a competitive advantage.” Scott highlights the greatest success that he has experienced thus far with the young company, which was “seeing [the] application run live for the first time and knowing all the work that was behind” the development.

When asked about what motivated them to start this business, Josef focuses on the learning experience he expected to obtain:

“This was my greatest motivation at the beginning of the project and it continues to be so… Entrepreneurship is a great way to ‘learn by doing’ for a large range of skills. With Tiller Systems… I not only to put into practice skills that I was introduced to during my education and my work experience. I was also required to learn new skills that I had not been exposed to before, such as programming. I took some introduction classes in different languages in order to be able to have a conversation with our developers (and eventually) be able to manage them!”

When asked about the biggest takeaways from this entrepreneurial experience and their key advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, both Scott and Josef highlighted the importance of the human aspect of business:

Scott: “Starting an entrepreneurial venture is first of all a great human experience, hence the importance of choosing the right team when you start such an adventure. I’ve quickly learned that if you have a good team that works well together, you can accomplish anything!”

Josef: “My biggest piece of advice for future entrepreneurs would be to join a community. There are plenty of start-up communities that organize events regularly in Paris and virtually every major city. Meet people and talk about your project, and please do not think that your project is too valuable to be kept secret. Without feedback, your idea has no value. Share your idea as much as you can and build it with the feedback you receive. In doing so, you may even have the chance to meet your future partner. Entrepreneurship is a sharing experience. You will not build a company on your own.”

Now, with graduation on the doorstep for both of these second-year students, they have a chance to reflect on how IMHI affected the launch of Tiller Systems. Scott underlines the “important role [that] IMHI and ESSEC have played in the development and growth of [their] idea.”

“Many of the concepts we studied and analyzed in our classes are directly applicable to our day-to-day work at Tiller Systems. We’ve also taken advantage of the impressive cumulative experience of all IMHI students, in particular those with a focus on the restaurant industry. Their insight, obtained through interviews and focus groups, was essential to validating and developing our concept. Our incubation at ESSEC Ventures was also an important moment in the evolution of the company, as the organization provided us not only with an office to work from, but also with the possibility to meet and interact with a huge, diverse network of experts and professionals.”

We wish the best of luck to these two entrepreneurs and hope that they will meet their goal of seeing the company grow in the near future.

For more information on Tiller Systems, please visit: