“Today, I don’t assist the Sales Manager, I’m the Sales Manager.” Pauline Collet, a Vatel 2014 alumnus, was hired for her first job as the Account Manager for the Paris Hilton La Defense and Paris Hilton Orly Airport Hotels.
“After having studied Journalism and Cinema for three years, I decided I wanted to go to a business school. At the same time, I really like traveling, and Vatel’s hotel management courses seemed perfect for me. So I took the Foundation Year course, so that I would be able to continue directly in my post-graduate studies.
Foundation year ends with a four-month internship in an operational department in a hotel. I quickly said that I would like to do this internship in the Netherlands and the Vatel internship department found me an internship in the F&B department of the five-star Hilton in The Hague. I met so many wonderful people and lived an exceptional experience, as I discovered American management and the Hilton corporate culture, as well as Dutch management, because of the hotel’s location. All the staff members were like a family to me, and my managers were always there to support me.
And as I had fallen into the Hilton melting pot, I wanted to continue this experience in the Lyon Hilton Hotel and I applied for the internship they had in the sales department. My mission was a two-pronged one: I assisted the Sales Manager with reports, administration, organization of appointments with customers, and so on, and at the same time I had sales functions, where I managed a client portfolio of 25 different accounts. In this very interesting internship, my manager quickly trusted me and gave me missions that could not initially be entrusted to an intern. So I was able to hone my skills in human relations, sales and negotiations. I learned how to manage complaints and carry out guest follow-up in the short, mid and long terms. In October, 2014, I was informed that the Hilton France sales department was being reorganized, and that an Account Manager job would be opening up. So I applied for that job. And today, I don’t assist the Sales Manager: I’m the Sales Manager.
The weeks of practical application in Vatel’s applications structures and the internships we have really make you credible when you’re interviewing, and it’s much easier to get a managerial position. And as you, yourself, have worked long hours as a waitress in a restaurant, wearing a uniform and high heels, that makes you much more aware of what you can ask your employees to do. And the same thing is true in the kitchens: how can you correctly hire a crew if you don’t know what you need? And how better to understand a job than actually doing it for a week? Vatel teaches us not only how to do our future jobs in management, but also allows us to know the jobs of those we’ll be managing.
I’m really confident that I’ll be able to do my new job; I was trained how to use all these tools and I’ve already done most commercial actions in my internship. The only difficulty I have to overcome is how I’ll personally organize my days: this is a home-based job, so I’m working by myself and I have to manage all my own customer appointments. So you have to be really tough on yourself, and not be afraid of being autonomous. An Account Manager is in charge of a portfolio including many different companies, and he or she is their sole contact. You only work on B2B and you have to many individual or corporate needs as well as group needs, seminars and things like that. My job consists in ensuring a good relationship between our guests and the hotel, and providing them with spaces that match their requirements (regular stays at the hotel, seminars with 100 people, etc.). I take care of the sales part, not the special events organization part, which is managed by our internal sales staff. My sales activities include prospecting for new clients as well as sustainability of pre-existing customers (file follow-ups, complaint management, renewing pricing agreements, etc.).
I’d like to continue working in the sales department for the next few years. I’ve still got a lot to learn, and there are many different tasks in this field: leading teams, studies of new market segments, drawing up new sales strategies from the very beginning, and so on.
But in the long term - though who knows, things could change, - I’d like to be the Operations Manager in a hotel. This is THE job that’s right in the middle of our hotel guests and all the operational departments. People who have this job are constantly searching for quality and trying to improve the organization of work done in all the departments, in order to have impeccable service. As I will have worked in Sales, I’ll be able to take the “long-term relationship” dimension into account, the one that we build day by day with our clients. Sometimes the operational teams forget this, and they start to think that the client relationship has finished once the bill is paid (and the the relation they have with sales is tarnished, if the service provided wasn’t top quality).
So, to conclude, I’d like to advise students to carefully choose their final internships. That’s the one that’s going to give you a head start in your first job, and for those students who are targeting large hotel chains with American management, I’d advise them to do this internship in a foreign county, where corporate culture is really a part of their daily lives.”
© Hilton Paris La Defense Tangerine Bar