Interview with a French Hotel Institute Montreux Alumnus
Have you ever wondered whether you should do a Master’s program? This week’s interviewee might just convince you to enroll right away.
Recently graduated with a Master in Tourism and Hospitality Management, with a specialization in human resources, Mr. Florent Benoit is already enjoying an upgrade in his career in luxury hospitality. In this interview, the Hotel Institute Montreux alumnus emphasizes the importance of creating one’s destiny, talks about building strong friendships in university, and gushes about the sweet benefits of a Swiss diploma to your career.
Hi Florent! You already have a Bachelor’s in hospitality management. Why did you want to do a Master’s program on top?
With the world closing down after the first Coronavirus wave, I had the opportunity to reflect on my life and where I was going. I knew I loved the hospitality business – I had spent ten years working in the field! But I felt like I was not evolving anymore in my career.
In that moment of deep self-reflection, I realized that I had to put in substantial effort to see significant changes in my career. Starting a Master’s program was the move that, I thought, would bring the needed framework for that change. I wanted to learn where the hotel industry was headed and understand how my potential fits within that picture. I wanted to elevate my career.
Why did you choose Hotel Institute Montreux for your Master’s?
I wanted to further my knowledge in human resources. Hotel Institute Montreux offered just the perfect program specializing in human capital.
How has earning a Master’s degree affected your career?
My current employer was straightforward with me that my profile would not have interested him without this Master’s degree and the fact that Hotel Institute Montreux was among the top 10 hotel schools.
I have to thank my Alma mater and my Master’s degree for my new position. Getting the role of a front office manager at the Relais Bernard Loiseau, Saulieu in France was one of the biggest aspirations of my career.
Has it left an impact on a personal level?
The whole experience at the Hotel Institute Montreux has opened my eyes to so many things, especially myself. I learned to see the good in people, go beyond the first impression, better understand other cultures, and appreciate the different ways of thinking. To make a long story short, I learned to open myself to the world and allow myself to evolve.
You had to quit your job and leave your friends behind to move to Switzerland for a year. Was it difficult for you?
The most challenging thing was leaving my cat behind. I have to thank my friends and family for giving me the support and motivation to make these changes in my life. I felt ready for the new chapter.
What was it like being back in school again?
After ten years, it was hard to adjust. The rhythm, pressure, and goals are not the same as in a company. I was mentally ready to go through it, though. Once I adjusted to that academic flow, it was very stimulating.
What did you enjoy doing in your free time in Switzerland?
I am a very active person. I loved skiing, exploring the beautiful nature, and trying out the local cuisine. I also enjoyed going to the gym, which has been a part of my routine for many years now.
What impressed you the most about Hotel Institute Montreux?
The strive for excellence in all aspects. It’s not only that their educational program was high-quality and up-to-date with the current trends. The staff was also very professional and ready to help with whatever I needed. I was blown away by the warmth and kindness that they showed me. Feeling supported while away from home is incredible, and I am thankful for that.
What was one of your most heart-warming moments at Hotel Institute Montreux?
As part of our Master’s degree, we had to create a resort concept for one of our lecturers. I was assigned to work with my coursemates Steve, Jackie, and Mark on this project. We all hit it off right away – we felt like we had known each other for years!
This was one of those moments where you could almost feel it was meant to be. We became so close that our classmates even started calling us the “Fantastic Four”! Studying and living together gives you that rare opportunity to develop friendships on another level.
You have studied in both Switzerland and France. How would you compare the two countries in terms of education?
France remains very traditional in its approach to education. There, the reputation of the school (or high school) you went to matters a lot. You will be evaluated on it before you are evaluated on your actual skills and knowledge.
Whereas in Switzerland, you will be given an opportunity based on your motivation and not on your educational background. You will be encouraged to make mistakes and learn from them. However, you will have to prove yourself along the way.
The disconnect between education and the times is also dramatic in France because the French schools don’t teach you to understand the current situation in the world. We still study texts by writers from the last century, for example, even though our language has evolved over time.
In Swiss schools, on the other hand, you will be encouraged to explore, observe and analyze on your own, and you will be given the proper tools for it.
If you could turn back time, would you do the Master’s program again?
Absolutely yes. I wouldn’t change a thing and especially not the school I chose.
Having a Swiss master’s degree is like a seal of approval. It illustrates that now I have the right knowledge to use my professional experience accumulated over the last decade and apply it in a much broader sense. With it, I am no longer limited to just one sector of the industry. I am much more flexible than that, allowing me to claim more.
What was the one thing that made your experience in Switzerland so pleasant?
I will not be very original here. It was the new friendships, the kindness of the people, and the breathtaking scenery of Switzerland’s lakes and mountains.
What are your aspirations for your future now?
I want to actively participate in the development of a sustainable hotel industry respectful not only of its natural but also social environment.
What would be your advice for future students at Hotel Institute Montreux?
Come with an open mind and forget what you think you know. Let yourself evolve!