On her first day of studies at Glion, BBA student Gemma Herd already knew the role she wanted after graduation. And when you know what you want, the action you need to take becomes so much clearer. In the latest edition of our ‘My First Job’ feature series, Gemma shares how her time at Glion equipped her with the abilities and experience to make it happen.
Name: Gemma Herd
Program: Bachelor (BBA) in International Hospitality Business (Hotel Development & Finance specialization)
Position: Front Office Graduate
Company: The Landmark London
When started: August 2019
A luxury hotel can separate itself from the crowd in a number of ways; location, décor, service, price. But, for the very best hotels, it’s about the entire guest experience, from start to finish.
In her first role after graduating with a Bachelor in International Hospitality Business (Hotel Development & Finance specialization), Glion alumna, Gemma Herd relishes the responsibility of ensuring 5-Star first impressions and lasting memories at The Landmark London.
“My responsibility is to provide a seamless arrival and departure experience for our guests, ensuring that their entire stay is above and beyond five star service,” she says.
“As well as being the primary contact for our inhouse guests, my role involves the daily tasks, reporting and billing for reception. It is a physically and mentally challenging job with long hours and a high level of multitasking needed, but I thoroughly enjoy it and one day to the next is never the same.”
‘The values of the company align with my own’
Right from the start of her Glion education, Gemma had a clear idea of the job she wanted after graduation and the kind of employer she wanted to work with.
“My current role is similar to what I envisioned as my first job, primarily because the values of the company and my managers’ align with my own. The experience I am gaining from my current job at The Landmark is giving me a very sound base on which to begin my career – I could not have hoped for a more valuable first job.”
Considering a career in luxury hotels? Head ‘over the pond’ from The Landmark, London to The Lowell Hotel, New York and discover the role and responsibilities of 2019 BBA alumnus, Gabriel Barrios.
What Glion did for me
With the hotel’s reputation as her main responsibility, Gemma identified three key lessons from her time at Glion that help her deliver a beyond 5-Star experience for The Landmark London. The first was an understanding of hospitality’s greatest attribute, its diversity, “I made incredible friends from all over the world, and knowing that a familiar face could be found in most parts of the world makes the prospect of traveling even more exciting.”
“The multicultural nature of Glion has allowed me to learn and admire the culture of others, giving me a heightened sense of empathy when interacting with my colleagues and guests.”
The second was teamwork, and although it wasn’t always fun, the skills she developed have proved vital for her professional career. “Group projects were not always fun and games, they taught us the importance of collaboration within our hospitality careers and daily lives.”
The ability to ‘hit the ground running’ and add immediate value is a powerful attribute for anyone seeking a job, particularly a graduate, something Gemma highly values. “Glion successfully combined both theoretical and practical learning during our studies ensuring to prepare us for the working world.
“The variety of our program definitely prepared me for the world of work as I felt I had gained knowledge on a wide range of subjects, that I could later pursue depending on my career path.”
From a Career Day to the first day of her career
Going beyond a purely academic education, Gemma commented on how Glion strengthened and supported her employability and career prospects after graduation.
“Incorporating internships into our program enabled us to have the practical hands on experience, whilst teaching us the discipline required to maintain a job. Our exposure to industry experts when guest speakers visited our classes allowed us to find out what career paths were open to explore.
“I found the career days both inspiring and motivating, as they gave me a taste of what was out there in the real world. I was very lucky to meet The Landmark London at my final career day and having applied online previously I approached them again.
“After confirmation that I had a visa to work in the UK I was asked to have an interview right there and then. I was incredibly nervous and unprepared but grasped the opportunity, that led to a positive result.”
From car manufacturers to property developers, a high-end hospitality skillset is in demand across the luxury sector. Meet Glion BBA graduate, Shihao Xu, who headed to Tokyo and into the luxury watch market with LVMH.
Gemma feels her two professional internships were key to securing her role at The Landmark.
She explains, “My two internships were both front office based further developing my passion for this particular department. These periods of my study helped me to apply my theory-based learning to the world of work; but most importantly they taught me lessons I could never learn from books, for each guest approached me with a different question or need.”
With an unwavering passion for hotels, Gemma’s long-term goal is to open a boutique venture of her own. In the short-term, her next move is to gain experience in VIP relations to further develop her knowledge of 5-Star service.
“I would advise students to look for a job in a place/city that will make you genuinely happy, as I have found my life – work balance to be very important in settling into my first job. Always look for an organization that has similar values to your own, as I have found that this encourages me to go above and beyond for the company. And never shy away from an operational position.”
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Kathleen Houlihan is a leader in workforce innovation and she is the Founder of an agency that reimagines talent acquisition and optimizes the system for candidates and employers. Her company, Dream2Career, provides human-centric ROI solutions that filter-in candidates who exceed expectations in the workplace.