Interview with a Hotel Institute Montreux Alumni from Sweden
This week we had a pleasant opportunity to catch up with a recent Hotel Institute Montreux alumni Robin Falk who now works as a broker and advisor at a prominent corporate advisory firm in Sweden. Robin says Hospitality and Finance have many similarities and choosing a hospitality-oriented school, he believes, has given him a significant advantage in his career. In this interview, Robin discusses his transition from education in hospitality management to a career in financial services, the different professional opportunities for Hotel Institute Montreux graduates and the importance of believing in yourself.
Hi Robin! How did you start a finance career after studying hospitality management at Hotel Institute Montreux?
I started working as a broker and advisor at Nordic depthouse in Sweden right after finishing my studies at Hotel Institute Montreux, where I studied International Hotel Management with a specialization in Financial Analysis and Wealth Management.
I got the job after a spontaneous application for my second internship. I went to an interview, prepared a presentation as a step in the recruitment process, and got accepted into a trainee program. Following the traineeship, I seized the opportunity to take a SwedSec licensing exam, which I passed, and that’s an important step within the trainee program.
What a smooth transition from school to career! Were you always interested in finance?
I have always been interested in finance and economics. It is the basis of all sectors, so it’s the kind of information that I’ve always believed would benefit anyone in their careers, whether in Banking or Hospitality.
Even though math and statistics have never been strong suits of mine, I was able to get a solid foundation in economics and finance (which is critical if you want to work in finance), thanks to my alma mater.
Why did you choose to study at Hotel Institute Montreux, which focuses on hospitality instead of a specifically economics-oriented school?
I decided to pursue a degree in hospitality management because I knew it would prepare me for a variety of career paths. Hospitality skills are essential in any business, including working as a broker, where you interact with clients daily, both in-person and over the phone.
What have you learned at Hotel Institute Montreux that helps you in your financial career?
Hotel Institute Montreux has helped me tremendously with hospitality knowledge in my finance career. There are many similarities between the two career paths, as in both one must understand the customer’s needs and give the best possible service.
I gained expertise in hospitality and learned how to make guests comfortable and as though they are in their own homes. This ability is also vital in the context of financial services. Just as guests can change hotels, investors can change banks in the event of poor service and treatment. Customers won’t trust you with their wealth until they feel confident about your person.
So, all in all, I’d say that the hospitality education at Hotel Institute Montreux provided me with professional standards on how to behave in different contexts and communicate with people, which is essential in the financial sector where you constantly encounter potential customers.
What career opportunities are there for Hotel Institute Montreux graduates? Do they go far beyond hospitality?
The possibilities for Hotel Institute Montreux graduates are endless. There will always be a need for professional and well-trained hospitality candidates for all companies. With a bit of entrepreneurship, drive and excellent education, the doors open wide. I had several excellent coursemates who, like me, received internships in finance thanks to their ambition and education and started their careers in finance.
Before your traineeship, you’ve done internships at hospitality businesses. How meaningful were those experiences for your career start?
Before I began my studies at Hotel Institute Montreux, I interned as a waiter & guest representative at Dorsia Hotel & Restaurant and as a Back Office trainee at Radisson Blu riverside in Gothenburg, Sweden, and both qualified as one internship (out of the two required in our study program).
That experience gave me a sense of what the hospitality business is about. However, back then, I was still very new to the industry, and my education at Hotel Institute Montreux was what actually led me to where I am today, certainly if we’re talking about my finance career.
What was your overall experience studying in Switzerland? Can you share some of the memorable moments for you there?
At Hotel Institute Montreux, I experienced diversity in terms of geography, culture, languages, education, profession, and religion, which was such an educational experience in itself. The school has taught me a great work ethic, equipped me with a wide range of principles, given me many challenges and provided me with even more opportunities.
The best parts of my time in Switzerland were the times I got to study and hang out with my fantastic classmates. We did everything from driving around Switzerland to flying to Italy, France, and Germany during term breaks. I am incredibly grateful and happy with my choice of education and for the people I met.
What is the one word that would best describe Hotel Institute Montreux?
Why is that?
The word “inclusive” well reflects my experience in the classrooms, full of students from various backgrounds. We were learning in relatively small groups of 30-40 people, compared to the typical university auditoriums of 80+ students in the same class. That made it easier to feel included among the classmates and seen by the teachers, which, in my opinion, increases learning ability and builds long-lasting friendships with classmates
What are your future goals now? Do you see yourself ever going to hospitality again?
My goal now is to continue growing within the company to take my career to the next level. The possibilities out there are endless, so I want to gain more knowledge and experience to prepare for the future.
Although I don’t see myself working in hotels or restaurants, I hope to walk a career path that has an impact on people and necessitates not only numerical expertise but also a great personality and human contact.
What is the definition of success to you?
Success is about the setting, working towards and achieving your goals and dreams in all areas of life, such as career, finances, and health. It’s about growing as an individual and getting a little better than you were yesterday.
Any advice for future Hotel Institute Montreux students?
My advice for future Hotel Institute Montreux students who wish to become successful is to believe in yourself and work towards your dreams wholeheartedly until the end! You should not hope that something “may work out”. Hope is not as strong as having faith in yourself. We have the privilege of being able to control our thoughts. Manage it well, and you will have the key to motivation and success.
What about a piece of financial advice for anyone looking to better manage their income?
Investing in shares has historically been a popular way to earn long- and short-term returns. Investing entails making a purchase with the expectation that it will improve in value over time. So if you have savings, investing could be a way to prevent your money’s worth from diminishing over time (which is a naturally occurring process) or even grow your money.
You can achieve this in several ways, including investing in stocks or mutual funds. Buying shares is also an excellent way to learn about listed firms’ activities and how outside changes influence them.
Thank you, Robin, for an interesting conversation. Best of luck with your career endeavours!