Let's catch up with Jeanette Leenders [F 2012]

"After my graduation at HMSM I was ready to take on the world!"

Jeanette started her journey in life at the Teaching Hotel, travelled and worked around the world and now, due to Covid-19, happily returns to the Teaching Hotel. In a few blogs she will share her journey from hospitality talent to a professional, from Maastricht to the rest of the world and back to Maastricht.

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Jeanette Leenders

Backpacking

As part of the Hotel Management School Maastricht, I 9 years ago completed my management internship as Banqueting Sales intern at Teaching Hotel Chateau Bethlehem. Having only experience in F&B and Front Office, Banqueting Sales was a new challenge. This internship was a great opportunity for me to gain experience in the ‘back office’ part of the hotel. Not only was I able to learn all the ins and outs about reservations for hotel and banqueting, but it also provided me a good platform to develop myself. 

Badge of Merit

In February 2012, I graduated from the Hotel Management School Maastricht and I was awarded the Badge of Merit for my contribution in promoting the Teaching Hotel. After my graduation I was ready to take on the world. But what to do next? 

I decided to sell everything I owned and take my backpack off to India. After nearly 12 months of backpacking I was slowly running out of money. I flew to Sydney, Australia, to look for a job. It didn't take long before I had a job in a small boutique hotel in Potts Point as Receptionist. As this was my first overseas work experience, I was anxious whether or not I would be able to communicate in English professionally, as English was definitely not one of my strong points. I suppose those communication lessons and English courses at HMSM were useful after all. 

Back on the road

After a year in Australia, I was back on the road, with my backpack to Indonesia. I travelled to Sulawesi Tengah to do scuba-diving on a small remote island, that can only be reached by a 12 hour ferry ride. It has no phone reception, TV or internet, Heaven on Earth! I loved the island and decided to stay a bit longer and do my Dive Master Course. With high-season approaching, the resort I was staying at, needed a staff member to run the resort. Well, with a BBA from the HMSM in my pocket, this sounded perfect for me. This was a great experience, but after 8 months on a remote island, I decided that I needed to head back to civilization. I  packed my bags again and headed to New Zealand. 

Travelling the world

Five days after my arrival in New Zealand and a 10 minute phone interview, I found my next challenge. A week later I would start as a Receptionist in a well-known 5 star hotel in Wellington. Over the next 5 years I was promoted to Assistant-Front Office Manager, Reception Manager and eventually Front Office Manager. In school I used to be this shy little girl, who would not be noticed when I would walk into my boss’s office. I could still remember Mrs Barbou telling me that I would have to be more confident and stronger, otherwise my future boss would walk all over. With those years of travelling the world and growing professionally, I am definitely not that same girl anymore as who stood there 8 years ago in Mrs Barbou’s office during my internship at the Teaching Hotel.

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