By Marion Neveu, MBA in Hospitality Management, France, 2013-2015 2nd Year
2nd year student Charles Neyers was selected to represent the IMHI program at the Hyatt Student Prize. He was one of the eight finalists selected based on student files and videos; the winner was selected on December 5th following individual interviews with the jury and Charles was awarded 2nd prize.
The Hyatt Student Prize is a prestigious award that was launched by Hyatt Hotels & Resorts in 2008. The goal is to reward the most talented student in the hospitality industry, to provide this person with an opportunity to meet Hyatt executives and to discover the management style Hyatt puts into practice. A total of 19 International Schools specializing in Hospitality Management have been selected to join the competition.
Hello Charles, I would like you to share your experience with us.
First of all, can you please introduce yourself as well as your background?
Before integrating into the IMHI program, I graduated from Vatel Hotel School in Paris with a Bachelor in International Hospitality Management. During these 3 years at Vatel, I had the opportunity to do 2 internships. For the first one, I decided to apply in one of the most historic hotels in Paris, the Ritz and for my second internship, I had the opportunity to join the Sofitel Bora Bora located in French Polynesia as a bartender during 4 months.
Just after I graduated I wanted to gain more experience and discover something new, that’s why I decided to apply to the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra located in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
My studies at ESSEC included a 6 months internship at the Mandarin Oriental Paris, an exclusive and modern palace, in the Finance department as an income auditor. This training allowed me to broaden my vision of hotel operations and management on a more financial perspective which is becoming increasingly important in today’s hotel industry.
My objective is to rapidly become a manager in the Food and Beverage department and develop my leadership skills, in order to become an Operations Manager/Hotel Manager. I believe that the knowledge I am gaining today at IMHI, will be a key element to become a General Manager of a Hotel Property in the Future.
Can you sum up your experience during the competition (different steps of the competition)?
We had the opportunity to introduce ourselves to the Jury in an amazing suite of the hotel where the individual presentations took place.
One by one, we were going into the room to present our answer to the following question : "You have been selected as General Manager for Grand Hyatt Cannes Hotel Martinez, effective on April 6, 2015: What would you do during the first 100 days?".
After my 8 minutes presentation, the Jury members asked me various questions about my 100 days plan. It was very challenging and interesting as the members of the jury were not all from the hospitality industry and thus, focusing on specific points that candidates had not considered.
The last step was individual questions for each candidate. Some related to the hospitality industry, some related on our personality. I particularly liked the last question which was: «If you had one question to ask the members of the jury, what would it be?» to which I answered: "You all come from very innovative industries and companies such as Google, Warner Bros., Air France…Do you believe that you could apply some of your innovative ideas or approach to the hotel industry which I believe tends to be obsolete or no longer meets customer’s expectations?". The different answers were amazing and encouraged me to not only to focus on our own industry but also take the best from others.
After that, we were all invited to prepare ourselves for the ceremony. The event was great and well organized and we had a great time after the ceremony.
Was there anything in particular about the ESSEC MBA in Hospitality Management (IMHI) that helped prepare you for the Prize?
As I mentioned earlier, the competition included an individual oral presentation to present our answers. I believe that the knowledge I gained during my studies at IMHI helped me to better understand the principal key points to be taken into account when identifying, formulating and implementing the various constituent parts of my answer. Also, having acquired a broader vision of the hospitality industry allowed me to focus on specific important considerations such as the rebranding of the Hotel Martinez into Grand Hyatt, but also the human resources transition and relations between the group and owners.
What was your favorite memory?
I would say that my favorite memory happened a moment before the ceremony, we were having a drink in front of the meeting room and Mr. John Wallis (CMO, Global Head of Marketing and Brand Strategy for Hyatt) approached me and told me that my presentation was truly great and that my vision of the hospitality industry was very interesting and similar to him. If you had told me a few months ago that I would receive this kind of compliment from a person with this background, experience and knowledge I would not have believed you.
Do you have any advice for the future IMHI candidate?
• Enjoy every second; you have nothing to lose but everything to gain from this experience and I believe it is crucial to keep this in mind from the moment you enter the hotel until the moment you leave.
• It is normal to deal with pressure and stress in this kind of event. Pressure to perform well is a good kind of stress as long as you do not allow it to become negative.
• Finally, go and talk to people, they are as passionate as you are and will be pleased to exchange with you. If you don’t go to them, they will come to you!
In my opinion, this made my experience so enjoyable and memorable.