Like most students at Swiss Hotel Management School (SHMS), Rytė was planning on building a career in the hospitality industry after graduation. Early on in her career last year, the Covid-19 pandemic caused an unprecedented shift in the hotel industry, challenging the Swiss Education Group alumni to act quickly. In this interview, Rytė talks about flipping her career in the middle of a global epidemic, valuable life lessons from Swiss Hotel Management School, and the importance of exploring one’s options.
Read further to learn more about Rytė’s story.
Hi Rytė! Why did you decide to study hospitality at the Swiss Hotel Management School?
I was always passionate about hospitality and luxury hotels. Since I was a little girl I was amazed by the service in luxury hotels, everything from the groomed uniforms to the genuine care and meticulousness of hotel personnel. Each hotel I’ve been to as a child or a teenager left me with unforgettable memories. It inspired me to dream of a life surrounded by people who feel the same passion for luxury hotels and one day perhaps even owning my own luxury hotel brand.
What was your first impression of Swiss Hotel Management School when you first arrived?
I had to hold my breath for a second because I was entering a castle!
What was the culture like at Swiss Hotel Management School?
It was super diverse. My course mates came from all corners of the world! Despite that fact, it felt as if we were a united team, especially during events like International Day or Banquet in 2nd year. There simply is no place like this to gain first-hand in depth perspectives about cultures of the world.
Where did you intern during your studies? What was it like?
My first internship was at The Ritz-Carlton Abama in Tenerife. Working there gave me an overall understanding of how hotels work. I lived six months on the island and I loved it!
For my second internship I aimed for a position at Grand Hyatt Dubai since I wanted to experience a different culture. The hotel itself was of a substantial size with a total of 682 rooms, so it was very interesting to learn first-hand how operations work in big hotels. Also, I fell in love with the city so much that I came back to Dubai after I graduated.
Was the school helpful in the process of getting the internships?
Yes, the Internship office is always there to provide the students with contacts of various hotels. They definitely have a lot of connections and are always willing to help in any way.
What was your favorite memory from your time in Swiss Hotel Management School?
I’d say it was my 2nd year banquet exam. Creating a banquet from scratch was such a challenge! It was, however, also an opportunity to learn how to work as a team. Experiences like these were very helpful later on in my career like when I had the opportunity to work in the Event Sales team at Shangri-La, at The Shard.
What was your first job after graduation? How were you able to get it?
After I graduated I started out as a Guest Service Agent at The St. Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor City. One of the students from the SHMS alumni network used to work there and offered to help me with arranging the job interview with the Front Office Manager.
What was your biggest career challenge so far?
The Covid-19 pandemic was the biggest challenge for me career wise, which, I’m sure, was for so many others working in hospitality as well.
At the time of its start, I was working as an Event Sales Executive. It was extremely hard for me to accept the fact that events will no longer be the same as before and the uncertainty of when events would resume. After 11 months of being furloughed, I was made redundant. I had to decide on what the next step in my career could be. Luckily, I got an opportunity to move to Dubai and work in a real estate company, which I am very happy about!
Wow, what an unexpected shift! What is it about your work that you really enjoy?
I’m a people person, so being able to meet different people daily gives me the greatest joy.
How have the skills you learned at Swiss Hotel Management School helped you in your current role?
To work in sales you have to be a people person. Being surrounded by such a diverse crowd in SHMS gave me a better understanding of the range of personalities and cultures that exist. With such knowledge, I feel like I am able to relate to people better and it earns me my daily bread to this day.
What’s next for you in your career?
Since I just very recently began this new career path working as a luxury real estate broker and in a new country, I want to establish myself in this field first.
What do you think will be the main trends in hospitality this year?
In my opinion, sanitation and cleaning standards will be the biggest trend. The pandemic forced people to change their habits – everyone is triple washing their hands and have a hand sanitizing gel in their bags. Hotels will have to accommodate these newly-formed needs, and offer the feeling of safety to their guests.
At the same time, technological innovation is very big in the hospitality world now. Everything from digital keys to tech enabled media pods seem to draw more and more attention.
How do the Baltic countries react to these trends, in your opinion?
Baltic countries are very advanced in technology and in the adoption of such novelties, surpassing some major European countries even.
Regarding the pandemic-induced trends, just as most of the world, the Baltic countries have also raised their cleanliness and sanitation standards. This trend, I believe, will grow even more in the upcoming years.
What do you think is the future of the hospitality industry in Lithuania?
Lithuania is getting ever-growing traction around the world because of the rapidly developing fin-tech and IT industries. Courtyard by Marriott and Moxy recently entered the Lithuanian market, and I think there will be more big players following their lead.
What advice would you like to give to students from Baltics?
Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone! Go travel, explore and understand what you are really passionate about. Classes at SHMS and internships will teach you a lot of versatile skills, so if you want to stay in hospitality after you graduate – great. But if you want to go in a different direction – don’t be afraid to do it too!
Thanks for an inspiring talk and good luck with your new career path!