Do you love to travel and explore new places? Do you enjoy working in a multicultural environment? Are you eager to make a career in a fast-moving and fast-growing industry? If the answer to any or all of the questions is ‘yes’, then pursuing a hospitality degree might be the best option for you, as tourism, travel, hospitality, and events are among the most dynamic sectors in the world. In this article, Indonesia Mengglobal Columnist, Dini Putri Saraswati, interviewed Dianna Priscylia Kusuma Dewi, who chose a career in the hospitality industry.
Embarking from the idea of the growing numbers of international tourists in Indonesia, Dianna Priscylia Kusuma Dewi decided to pursue a Master’s degree in International Hospitality and Service Industries Management at Glion Institute of Higher Education (GIHE) in Bulle, Switzerland. During her study, Dianna got the opportunity not only to learn more about the services industry, but also work at various luxurious accommodations. In this article, Dianna shares her motivational story in discovering her passion for the hospitality industry.
Hi Dianna! Could you tell us a bit about yourself please?
Hi! My name is Dianna Priscylia Kusuma Dewi and you can call me Dianna. Recently, I have just moved in to Mozambique with my husband and starting our business together. In 2017, I got an MBA from Glion Institute of Higher Education (GIHE) in Bulle, Switzerland, where I studied International Hospitality and Service Industries Management.
Congratulations! Now, speaking about your studies, why did you choose to study hospitality management and services industry?
Well, I grew up in a business-minded family as my father owns a real-estate company. The company is now expanding into restaurant and food service industry and hopefully more in the future. During my study at Universitas Ciputra (UC) Surabaya, I started to get involved with my father’s business where we got a chance to travel and experience the other parts of the world together. Since then, I came to a realisation that Indonesia actually had the potential to be a world-class tourist destination. However, most lands and accommodations were owned or managed by expatriates. I thought to myself that it was kind of ironic. Thus, I considered getting a higher degree in hospitality where I could study about management in service industry hoping to improve the tourism sector in my home country.
I chose GIHE because it was one of the best hospitality schools in the world. Even to this year, GIHE is still named the top three hospitality schools in the world among Ecole Hôtèliere de Lausanne (EHL) Switzerland and University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) the United States of America (USA). It also had been recognised for years that GIHE prepared successful career prospects. Moreover, it was situated in a small town surrounded by greenery as well as picturesque mountains where it was just a perfect place to study.
What did you learn at GIHE?
I learned that hospitality is actually the most expensive intangible asset a company could have. You can have all the resources but when your company lacks hospitality and keeps on getting complaints from the clients, that is when your career is going to end. That is why a hospitable attitude towards the guests or customers is the most important thing.
However, studying at GIHE was not only about deepening the theory nor merely sitting in a class, but also challenging myself to be more open-minded, empathetic as well as adaptable to a new environment as hospitality industry is a fast-paced industry. This programme was exciting since it particularly focused on the integration of theory and practice.
Furthermore, GIHE was a place to connect with people from diverse backgrounds with “Glion Spirit” as their motto which emphasised the diversity, networking, and community among the students and alumni. In “Glion Spirit”, I believe that everywhere I go, there will be Glion friends to connect with. Therefore, I still keep in touch with my schoolmates through the GIHE alumni WhatsApp group and even GIHE alumni conferences. Whenever I need something, I would just hit them up and they would be glad to give me a hand. I think that GIHE has an undoubtedly robust alumni network and that is one of the things I value the most.
Did you join any organisation or apply for an internship during your study at GIHE?
Certainly! The MBA programme at GIHE was a 1.5-year-programme which consisted of a 1-year hospitality management courses and a 6-month compulsory internship. It was quite a challenge for me to manage my time well so that I could graduate on-time. In my first semester, I participated as an Event Manager at Glion Charity Committee, a student organisation at GIHE. I got a chance to collaborate with several institutions and one of them was a hospitality school in Eastern Indonesia. It was really a life-changing experience for me as I found out about the untapped potential of Indonesia’s tourism industry along with their human resources were.
In my second semester, I started working on my dissertation about the acquisition of Ibis Hotel in Eastern Africa by Accor Hotel Group. It was also a wonderful experience to present my project in Paris, France in front of the notable stakeholders.
Finally, in my last semester I did an internship at GIHE in the Front Office Department. I was responsible for offering administrative support across the organisation, including event support and public relations. This experience allowed me to apply the theories I got in class as well as improve my customer service and communication skills.
How was the career opportunity after studying at GIHE?
As a reputable hospitality school, GIHE was known by hospitality businesses around the world, so it offered millions of opportunities to join the tourism and hospitality industries. Each semester, some multinational companies (MNCs) would visit the campus for a recruitment day where the students could apply for an interview. For me, it was quite a good start for my job-hunting experience.
Where did you work after your graduation?
My first job after I graduated was as a Front Desk Officer at a luxurious boutique ski resort in Gstaad, Switzerland called Ultima Gstaad. I was a member in their pre-opening team where my main duty was assisting the guests for reserving the ski chalets. I got to serve a lot of prominent guests from all over the world. Although I was very proud of myself, at the same time I was also nervous because that meant perfection and small details were essential.
From this experience, I developed a strong work ethic as I had to work in multiple morning shifts and night shifts not to mention the overtime. Sometimes, I was also assigned the tasks that were not specifically outlined in my job description, such as completing the requests from the guests. Although sometimes some of the requests were bizarre, it was my responsibility to provide the best service for them otherwise I would lose their trust.
However, all the exhausting shifts had paid off when I got a warm fuzzy feeling from my guests. Some even left me a few tips. It felt very rewarding to me, not because of the amount of money, but the appreciation given. I also gained more knowledge about serving guests, such as how to handle complaints and difficult situations. One thing I realised in the hospitality industry was that the best employees are those who are loved by the guests. Believe me, it was not an easy task. Sometimes there were things I could not control and it happened but I had to give them the best. Because of this experience, I have improved my emotion management and problem-solving skills.
How was the working culture in Switzerland?
My study life at GIHE allowed me to team up with the people from different nationalities, such as Brazilian, Chinese, French, Portuguese, Ukrainian, etc. and it has broadened my horizons. I discovered that people were very honest and straightforward. They did not hesitate to criticise me when I did wrong but would also compliment me when it was needed. They were also very open to suggestions and discussions in order to minimise any possibility of misconception. I must say that people preserved the egalitarian principle where all staffs were equal, especially in terms of ideas and opportunities.
Additionally, the value of time was paramount – we worked based on priority and efficiency. They believed that the path to success relied heavily on quality over quantity as it would lead to a higher productivity. My company also paid high attention to the welfare of the employees. Most internship programmes in Switzerland were paid and I also had to take at least two days off per week otherwise they would break the employment rules. Those are the professional value that I am actually still holding on to.
What are the tips for the students out there who would like to study or work in hospitality sector abroad?
Make sure that hospitality is your passion as it involves a lot of heavy duties. Sometimes, you have to work extra hours, morning shifts, and even night shifts. Besides, you will have to face angry guests with patience. It does not matter how bad your day is when a guest arrives you have to welcome them with a nice smile and be well-groomed. As the industry is constantly changing, you also need to be creative and fast-learning or else you would end up being far behind the others. In order to avoid this, you have to learn from anyone and anywhere. There might be some lessons you would not learn in school but you need to improvise. Ask your employer, colleagues, or even guests for your self-development. It would be worth your time and effort.
Last but not least, always read the terms and conditions carefully. For Indonesian citizens, it may be a little bit difficult to get the legal documents to stay in Europe as most companies would rather prioritise European nationals than other nationalities. But it is actually not that difficult if you have prepared all the necessary competencies and requirements. Happy hunting and good luck!
Dianna Priscylia Kusuma Dewi, or Dianna, completed her Bachelor’s Degree in International Business Management specialised in Family Business from Universitas Ciputra (UC) Surabaya. Afterwards, she partook an internship programme at Majapahit Hotel Surabaya. From that experience, she grew her interest in the service and hospitality industry that she decided to continue her study to Glion Institute of Higher Education (GIHE) in Bulle, Switzerland majoring in International Hospitality and Service Industries Management. At GIHE, she joined multiple organisations, such as Glion Charity Organization and Perhimpunan Pelajar Indonesia (PPI) Swiss. She also had several experiences in the hotelier industry including her project with the Accor Hotel Group and working for Ultima Gstaad in Gstaad, Switzerland. In 2018, she went back to Indonesia to manage her own restaurant and real-estate company. Currently, she lives in Southern Africa to continue her international career. Her love for hospitality industry is unstoppable as she believes that Indonesia has a great opportunity in tourism industry and she dreams to be the Minister of Tourism one day.