HTM Alumni Offer Advice at Welcome Reception for New Students
October 27, 2015
“If you’re uncertain what you’re going to do professionally, immerse yourself in your internships. Your reputation starts right there,” advised Laurie Stroll ’83 at HTM’s annual New Student Welcome Reception at the Marriott Center on October 22. Laurie, who is president and owner of the destination management company Newport Hospitality, was one of six panelist-alumni who offered freshman and transfer hospitality students insights on career development issues.
Prepare to embrace change throughout your careers, the panelists agreed. “I’ve learned something new every day over the last 18 years,” observed John Koshivos ’84, a vice president and managing director of Hilton Worldwide’s Southeastern U.S. properties. You can count on one thing, he said: “Your career path will change.” Some of those changes, he continued, will mirror trends in the industry. Today, for example, franchising and contracts are in the ascendancy.
Polish your interpersonal skills to improve your connection with employees and guests, emphasized Susan Callender ’86, a self-employed advisor to individuals and companies on exercising style and good taste. It’s an asset, she said, to frame those connections not as transactions but as relationships. And it’s valuable to learn how to say “no” to a customer but making it sound like “yes.”
Enthusiasm, Self-Marketing, Networking
Employers love enthusiasm. They will value your willingness to embrace whatever is asked of you, remarked Mike Sacenti ’82, who is principal of his own advisory firm, Hospitality Investment Management. In the hotel business, rooms, he continued, are perishable commodities. With that said, it’s imperative to plan for their “sale” to customers by carefully considering supply, demand, depreciation, pricing, and other variables.
John Siska ’75, Senior Managing Director with O’Connnell Hospitality Group, also underscored enthusiasm. “Enthusiasm, integrity, tenacity, optimism and a willingness to never give-up are key attributes, he said. “Every setback is a chance to improve and achieve your ultimate goals. Establish a plan and stick with it. Invest your energy in creating an optimal present and future,” he told the students.
"Be a sponge. Get involved in the HTM department’s clubs and internships as early in your college career as possible,” emphasized Gwen Weisberg ’80, a partner with the law firm Donovan Hatem, in Boston. “I market myself as an attorney in almost everything I do. You should do the same in whatever you do. Be a good marketer of yourself!”
The panel was deftly moderated by HLJ Hotel Asset Management’s principal owner Bert James ’73, who added his own insights and wit to the mix. HTM junior and senior student ambassadors strategically joined the freshmen at their tables. Before and after the panel, the students networked with panelists and other alumni. In that, they no doubt heeded the advice of panelist Laurie Stroll: “Learn how to network. It is absolutely key.”