A student spotlight on Timeea Catalina Toma
Timeea’s zest for life is truly infectious. As an international student from Romania studying the Master of International Hotel Management, Timeea’s deep desire to live a fulfilling life coupled with a fire to make others happy brought her to the doors of Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School (BMIHMS) at Torrens University Australia.
Getting to know Timeea feels much like speaking to a seasoned motivational speaker. You can’t help but feel enriched with her bubbly personality and passion for creating unforgettable experiences for her guests at the Holiday Inn in Darling Harbour where she’s working as the Supervisor Front Office during her Industry Placement.
Timeea, along with all of our BMIHMS students, gain over 600 hours of experience through their Industry Placements. These placements give students a clear career path in the hospitality industry. Students get the opportunity to work at the world’s top hotels including Shangri-La, Hilton, Hyatt and many others.
Learn more about Timeea’s journey and how she found her passion for the hotel industry in her Q&A below.
What inspired you to choose a career in hotel management?
Ever since I was a little girl, I knew that I loved people. I enjoy seeing people happy and relish in seeing people making the most of a special moment and simply celebrating life. Hearing their stories and experiences inspires me with everything I do. And when are people the happiest? When they travel, when they see the world, when they fill their life with unforgettable memories! It’s what made a career in hotel management an obvious choice.
Initially, I was ready to become a doctor, following in the footsteps of my father. However, one fine morning, I woke up realising that I need to follow my heart, no matter how intimidating and or jittery that made me. So, I became the rebel child (of sorts) in my family, moved all the way to London to study a Bachelors in Tourism and Events Management and pursued my dreams. I can tell you that I made the right choice, for sure.
Tell us about why you chose to study at BMIHMS.
Whist being a student in London, I was sent to Sydney on a student exchange for six months, fell in love with the city and knew that one day, after finishing my studies, I would return.
The quote “Do things right, or do not do them at all,” came to mind when I searched for my preferred school. Through my research, I found that BMIHMS was the best Hotel Management school in Australia and Asia Pacific. This made my choice easy. BMIHMS was the only university I applied to before coming to Australia. I took one shot at my dreams, as I was not accepting a compromise in the situation. I knew what I wanted.
Tell us about your Industry Placement and why you think it was a valuable experience
My Industry Placement has been a valuable experience as it offers the opportunity to look back and reflect over your journey, put down your thoughts and see what more you can learn, what you gained and the experience itself. I see this as the final frontier as a student before starting the life of a graduate in the real-world. It allowed me time to self-evaluate and prepare me for my future career.
Also, in context of COVID-19, I believe that through your Industry Practice you get a better understanding on how to cope and adapt to the changes that are currently taking place in the hospitality industry.
What’s something you learnt so far in your studies that will stay with you for the rest of your career?
I will take countless things I have learnt that prepared me for my future career. One that stands out is the fact that people nowadays search for experiences. People want to feel special, and they remember experiences that were personalised even just a little. If it is from the conversation you have with them at the check-in or organising something in the room to make them remember their stay, people like, and want to feel special. Life is so short, and small moments make life big. When things changed with the pandemic, I did not know what would happen to the future of the hospitality industry. But now I know that when things do settle into a new normal, people will cherish traveling so much more. The need for unforgettable experiences will grow even more.
What excited you about the future in hospitality?
The future in hospitality is extremely exciting, because it evolves and changes every day. It keeps you busy and on the tips of your toes. You get to develop and grow together with the industry by adapting yourself to every situation, and it teaches you to embrace the “new”.
Hospitality allows you to be creative and to use that creativity to make people around you happy. You learn how to read people and understand their needs and how to see things from different perspectives. When everything settles, hospitality is the one industry that gives you the chance to live and immerse yourself in other cultures, foods, places. How amazing is that?
Describe a highlight so far on your student journey.
My highlight as a student is that I was courageous enough to live far and then even further away from home to follow my heart. Through my studies I got the opportunity to work and training most of the departments of the hospitality industry (from front office at serviced apartments, boutique hotels or large hotel chains, to VIP focused restaurants, cocktail bars, fine dining or to housekeeping).
Despite losing my job through the pandemic, I did my part to keep the community safe by supervising the disinfection project for Transport NSW. I did not back down from anything and tried everything just so I can learn as much as I can, gain as many skills as possible and experience new things. Today, I am who I am, because of all this. I am fearless and unstoppable. I am hands –on, and I do not refuse any challenge. Bring it on. I will do it right or not at all.
What’s your dream job?
After discovering my passions and goals, I can say that my ideal job would be a mixture of a management position at the front office and events organiser. Front office because I love being part of the department, dealing with guests, finding out stories and interacting with them. I aspire to be a leader who understands the needs of my guests, and one that’s supports the growth of my colleagues. I’ve also always dreamt of being an events organiser. I will always find great pleasure in organising and creating special moments for the people around me.
I’m able to live this in being the Front Office Supervisor at Holiday Inn Darling Harbor and taking responsibility for all the special requests in the hotel from special birthdays and anniversaries, to small gestures requested in the room. I am the person who will always go that extra mile, if given the chance.
With lots of hard work and determination, I can say that I am living the dream right now.
If you could share one piece of advice to students, what would it be?
Follow your heart. "Be hungry. Be Foolish" Wake up and think of what Steve Jobs said, “If today was your last day, would you do what you were about to do today?” If the answer is yes, do it. If the answer is no, do not be scared to change something. Life will be full of challenges, but what makes a difference is how you choose to see things and what you do about it. Embrace every step of your journey, no matter if it is a success, a failure, a win or a rejection.
Believe in yourself and do not give up easily.
Tell us a bit about what drives and motivates you every day in your studies, work and career.
One day, I read a quote saying, “You have to learn the rules of the game, and then play it better than anyone else”. I do not compare myself to others, but I compare myself to myself. And I need to “play better than I played before,” because what motivates me is becoming a better version of myself every day.
I met some real mentors throughout my journey at BMIHMS, and I feel motivated by the idea of meeting them years later and making them proud. I want to make a change and leave something behind.
And lastly, but not least, I am motivated because one day, I want to look back and I want to say that I have made it. I live a happy life, because I do what I love the most.