IMHI Class of 2016-2017

IMHI Class of 2016-2017
Class of 2016-2017

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.

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