19 augustus 2019
Fourth year student Laura den Hartigh interviewed alumnus Oliver Schäfer, Rooms Division Manager at Le Meridien Fisherman’s Cove in Seychelles. Oliver is responsible for the Front Office, Housekeeping, Pool and Spa operation at this 68-room island resort.
After graduation in 2015, I joined The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as Duty Manager.
Both my internships during my studies had been with Starwood Hotels & Resorts (now Marriott International) in the UAE and this experience, along with the close network that exists amongst hoteliers in the Middle East (and a healthy dose of luck of course), was of great help in getting the interview. While I had deliberated on whether to continue within the same company or get a different perspective with another hotel chain, the opportunity at The Westin presented itself as a great first step in the direction that I saw my career going and therefore won me over pretty quickly.
Well, from all the great memories that I cherish from my time in Maastricht, I think what certainly stands out is the tight-knit community that we formed with our fellow students. In fact, as I write this I am flying to Amsterdam for a reunion with close friends from that community. These friendships were formed in Maastricht and have supported me ever since in my personal life as well as my career.
I find myself regularly falling back on the creative mindset that forms a red line throughout the curriculum at HMSM. Being a part of the largest hotel chain in the world leads to a lot of standards and processes that need to be in place which can at times feel rather limiting when working to create memorable guest experiences at every touchpoint. Thinking back to the many projects, concepts and brainstorming sessions that I experienced both at school and at the bar throughout my time in Maastricht helps me step beyond the bureaucracy and focus on delivering those experiences we hoteliers strive for.
As I was in the international stream, this nature was inherent to daily life in Maastricht. Fellow students from around the world and internships abroad broadened these perspectives and are certainly some of the defining features of HMSM. My time at HMSM was fulfilling, challenging and certainly momorable.
While I had the opportunity to study in The Hague, I chose Maastricht due to the close community feeling I got from the open days, the structure of the curriculum providing more possibilities to touch different subjects while also specializing, as well as the beautiful city the school is located in.
Being an alumnus from HMSM makes you a part of a network that really is global. I think all of us have that Maastricht gene that connects us and ensures support throughout our careers and personal lives, no matter the year of graduation.
I always look back fondly at my time in Maastricht and I follow with pleasure the developments that are happening on campus. I hope that I can contribute back to the community at some point with the organization of an internship position or a collaboration on a project.
Read about alumnus Oliver Schäfer's career in the Seychelles!
Siem Bierman is co-founder of Handpicked Group China. Read about his journey after graduating.