When many people think of a career in the hospitality industry, they picture themselves in a hotel or restaurant, working directly with guests, running operations and managing staff on the ground.
Hotel brands today have diversified into many different business areas such as: wellness, real estate development, investment, fund management, OTAs and lifestyle products. As new technologies, opportunities and challenges emerge in this changing landscape, hospitality brands need to recruit innovative and flexible young professionals to fill these alternative roles.
What are some alternative careers for Hospitality graduates and how do you find them?
Here to answer these important questions are four talented Alumni of the Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School (BMIHMS) and Torrens University Australia, who ended up taking their hospitality careers to some unexpected places.
- Elise Dao is a Senior Analyst at Salter Brothers (Bachelor of International Hotel and Resort Management from BMIHMS)
- Ben Salter is Director of Distribution for Accor Pacific (Advanced Diploma of Hotel Management at BMIHMS)
- Amelia Perez is Development Manager at Hilton (initially studied a Bachelor of Hotel Management at BMIHMS then transferred to a Bachelor of Business Administration)
- Dimitri Karam is Area General Manager and Group Compliance Officer at Oscars Hotels (Advanced Diploma of International Tourism and Hospitality Management, BMIHMS).
These four professionals have had very different journeys along the way to success, but each of them has discovered that a career in hospitality can take you to some interesting places beyond the front desk.
Hotel Senior Analyst
Elise Dao is a Senior Analyst (Hotels) at Salter Brothers.
When Elise Dao first started her Bachelor of International Hotel and Resort Management at BMIHMS, she had a different view of the hospitality industry than she does today.
“My ideas about working in hospitality have definitely changed since I moved to my current role. Now, hospitality for me is a much broader concept,” explained Elise.
“It is not only just about operating hospitality venues such as hotels and managing the day-to-day guests' interactions; it’s also about being able to look at hospitality assets through a different lens, such as seeing all the different investment potentials.”
Before she started working in her current role as Senior Analyst for Salter Brothers, she wasn’t sure what the job would involve, it was so outside her hospitality experience so far.
Salter Brothers as well as being a hotel group is a global fund management with a focus on alternative investment offerings across specialist property, credit & private equity.
“I remembered when I first saw the job description on our Blue Mountains career connect website, my first thought was ‘Wow, I have no idea what these tasks are… but this sounds exciting and you maybe I’ll just give it a go’. Even now, it takes my friends and industry peers by surprise every time I share my career path with them,” said Elise.
Today, she loves her job as Senior Analyst and the company she works for. In her role, she has lots of opportunities for professional development and she gets to work across diverse and interesting areas of business.
“Having room for growth and development is the one thing I love about my current job: especially being a Gen Z, learning and development is always a top priority,” Elise explained.
I have been fortunate to be with Salter Brothers, whose business has expanded four times the size when I first started, and with a team that supported my development over the years. This means that whenever there are open career paths, employees get the first access to promotion.
“Over the last five years, I have had the opportunity to have exposure to 4 different business areas.”
Although she’s now working as an analyst for a fund manager, Elise found that her hotel management training and the networks she gained at BMIHMS really helped to prepare her for her current role.
“The greatest strength that I realised when I graduated from BMIHMS is the school's great industry reputation and network within Australia,” said Elise.
Plus, studying Hotel Management was a great joy for me. I loved gaining an understanding of this dynamic, fun and people-focused industry. Later on, I brought that operational experience and knowledge to my job, helping me to realise asset potentials and provide the most suitable asset strategies for investment.”
Director of Distribution
Ben Salter is the Director of Distribution at Accor Pacific.
When Ben Salter started his course at BMIHMS, his role today as Director of Distribution at Accor Pacific didn’t even exist in its current form.
“I believed I would progress through as a hotel general manager at some point, but my career trajectory took another turn,” explained Ben.
The tools I use today didn't exist back then. When I graduated communication was still via fax, email was still a few years away from being common, and the Internet was in its infancy. Today my job would be impossible without it.
“Hospitality is such a broad term, it encompasses hundreds of different roles so no one's pathway will be similar.”
Ben has a lot of responsibility in his strategic role, managing Accor Pacific’s property distribution strategies to increase profitability and market share. So, how did his Advanced Diploma of Hotel Management at BMIHMS help to prepare him for this business-oriented position?
“BMIHMS gave me a launching pad to a great career: with the skills I learned I was able to slot into different hotels and different roles,” Ben revealed. “Through the 'hamburger' model of learning and on the job training I was able to learn the fundamentals of hotels, which served me well for my career in operations.
BMIHMS features a lot of collaborative projects in which students work with each other on major projects. Doing these prepares you for work within departments and with different personalities.
Fundamentally, BMIHMS also teaches students about the 'business' of hospitality which is invaluable and something I use every day. Each of the elements we studied at school was 100% relevant to real-world experience.
“My current role simply did not exist in 1995, but the skills I learned all contributed to the trajectory I have been on.”
Although it might be totally different from where he thought he would initially end up in hospitality, Ben is really happy to end up in the place that he’s at right now.
“Firstly, I love my team. They're awesome. What I didn't expect was to find colleagues who became friends and family. I also didn't expect to find such a wonderful organisation to work for that has looked after me for most of my adult career.
Secondly, I love the scope of the role. Over 400 hotels fall under my area and to be able to deliver to them the service and support they require is very rewarding. To deliver solutions and knowledge is very satisfying,” Ben explained.
Amelia Perez is a Development Manager for Australasia at Hilton
For as long as she can remember, Amelia Perez was passionate about having a career in hospitality.
“Growing up, I always wanted to make an impact in my home country and play a part in the progress of the hospitality and tourism sector,” she explained.
“The hospitality industry offers a number of career pathways, including hotel operations, investment, transactions, valuations, development, tourism, technology, and the list goes on. Initially, I was not fully aware of the diverse opportunities available, and I find it fascinating how in many cases hospitality tends to be associated mainly with hotels.”
Amelia began her studies by doing two years of hotel management at BMIHMS, gaining hands-on experience in hotel operations. This provided her with a solid foundational understanding of how hotels work.
“It was not until I transferred to the Sydney campus and started courses more focused on development and feasibility, and tourism destination management that I really found my passion for the industry.
Jennifer Davey, my former lecturer, and Martyna Żaczek, my former tutor, both of whom worked at Horwath HTL, introduced me to the more analytical and strategic aspects of the field,” Amelia said.
The blending of business, hospitality and tourism together provided Amelia with the perfect balance to start her dream career. She began as a consultant, and three years later she got her current role as Development Manager for Hilton, for the whole Australasia region.
“Through consulting, I had the opportunity to explore many areas of the industry such as investment and development, which are interesting and dynamic.”
I recently joined Hilton - a great opportunity that allows me to apply my analytical skill set and contribute directly to the company's growth and success. I love working on exciting development projects that offer new challenges and opportunities for professional growth.”
Although Amelia transferred to Bachelor of Business Administration, she completed two years of hotel management at BMIHMS. She found that the experience of studying both degrees equipped her with the ideal skill set for a career spanning hospitality and business.
“BMIHMS equipped me with practical experience in hotel operations, tailored courses, and exposure to diverse areas of the industry. The insights and connections from my lecturers and tutors who were actively working in the industry were invaluable in shaping my career. Overall, my education and experiences at BMIHMS played a crucial role in preparing me for my current role at Hilton,” Amelia explained.
Area General Manager and Group Compliance Officer
Dimitri Karam is the Area General Manager and Group Compliance Officer at Oscars Hotels
Dimitri Karam has always been ambitious. When he started his diploma at BMIHMS, he had his eyes set firmly on the top management roles.
Even though he had a clear idea of where he wanted to end up, when he started out as a graduate in the workforce, he was still taken a little by surprise.
“Yes, working in hospitality is definitely different from what I expected.”
I have come to realise that we are in ‘the people business selling coffee,’ and not in ‘the coffee business selling to people,’” Dimitri explained.
Although it might have been unexpected, Dimitri is really happy with the direction his career has taken. He loves everything about his current job, but he loves the team at Oscars Hotels in particular.
“I love the people I work with. The growth mindset is at the core of our company culture, and so we are always empowering each other to always raise the bar and be the best at what we do,” said Dimitri.
Although his role encompasses areas of business such as compliance that are not typically seen as traditional hotel management, Dimitri has found his hotel management training essential to his current position.
“Studying hotel management at BMIHMS taught me the fundamentals of success in hotel and asset management,” Dimitri explained.
“It taught me how to be pragmatic, how to collaborate with people and to get the job done. It also taught me discipline and shaped me to become a Collaborative leader.
Most importantly, it equipped me with the understanding that we are in ‘the people’ business. Diversity, inclusion and teamwork were at the essence of everything we did as students.”
A big thanks to these talented four Alumni from BMIHMS and Torrens University Australia - Elise Dao, Ben Salter, Amelia Perez and Dimitri Karam - for sharing the inspiring stories of their alternative hospitality career journeys.