Joana Ribeiro, Portuguese
Year of Graduation: 2014, Postgraduate Diploma in Hospitality Administration

Human Resources Coordinator, InterContinental London Park Lane
A 5-star luxury hotel at No.1 Park Lane in the heart of Mayfair, overlooking the Royal Parks of London, England

Joana Ribeiro graduated in 2014 with her Postgraduate Diploma in Hospitality Administration from Glion Institute of Higher Education, London. She was required to complete a 6-month internship as part of this 1.5-year program, so Joana applied for a range of intern positions at various upscale hotels.

Her first invitation to interview came from InterContinental London Park Lane for a food and beverage trainee position. A few days after her interview, the human resources director called to see if, instead, she would like to be their new human resources trainee. She happily accepted!

Joana then worked as an intern in human resources for one year, before being offered the full-time position of human resources coordinator – her current role.

We caught up with Joana to reflect on her Glion journey and to find out more about how her career is developing with Intercontinental Hotels & Resorts, a leading company that offers employees a worldwide network of wide-ranging hotel brands.

Q: What is your current position and responsibilities?

Joana: “I am the human resources coordinator at InterContinental London Park Lane. My role consists of a wide variety of tasks within the whole team; from employee relations to employee benefits, some recruitment and organization of staff activities, part of the hiring process as well as the leaving process, induction week, and training our interns in the department.”

Q: After completing your degree, what field did you have knowledge in and why did you decide to consider a career change towards business and hospitality management?

Joana: “I completed my undergraduate degree in Sociology, back in Portugal. During my second year I started to gain interest in Hospitality, and more specifically in Events Management. I then worked in Events for a period of time, which made me realize how much I loved the industry – this is what motivated me to enroll in Hospitality Management as soon as I graduated.

I had this passion for Hospitality, and I was sure I wanted to pursue my career within it. I knew I needed to gain some experience, so I decided to enroll so I could have that experience and knowledge. As I already had a degree, the Postgraduate Diploma in Hospitality Administration was the best option for me.”

Q: What security/stability do you feel this industry offers you for your future career?

Joana: “I am not of the opinion that you must do a specific job or choose a specific industry in order to have life stability; for me, life stability comes from what you build for yourself. Hospitality is my dream and what I have been fighting for, therefore it does bring me stability and moreover professional gratification.

I chose Glion as in my opinion it is a top school, and so it would bring me the best education and preparation in this area. Hospitality is an extensive industry and I have been able to get to know a lot of people who have positively impacted my path and taught me a lot.

In addition, working for as large a brand as IHG gives me the opportunity to grow and develop.”

Q: Why did you choose to study at Glion Institute of Higher Education in London?

Joana: “Since high school, I have always wanted to study at a prestigious school like Glion. I remember looking it up online and dreaming of how it would be, to be part of such an excellent team. I guess I was a bit scared of leaving my country at the time, so only when I finished my degree did I decide to jump for the opportunity and enroll online.

I have always wanted to move to London. Ever since I was just 12, I was fascinated by the city and the amazing things I saw when I came to London with my family.

When I decided I wanted to go to Glion and I was enrolling, I went to the website and thought “Oh well, there goes my London dream for now”. I even looked up other universities in London, but none were like Glion and this was what I wanted. I could not see myself in Switzerland so I was hesitant, but I knew I had to go.

One of my friends who was studying at Glion Switzerland called me and said “Go to the website – Glion has a branch campus opening in London!” I could not believe it. I was so excited! It was all I had ever wanted; the best school in the best city. I had to go!

I enrolled without telling anyone, as I just wanted to see if I would receive a call for an interview. As soon as I got accepted I knew my dream had come true.”

Q: What expectations did you have before you arrived and how did Glion London meet those expectations?

Joana: “I have to admit; I was really excited but scared at the same time. What if Glion was not amazing? What if London was too much for me? I decided not to look back and just jump for it and it was the best decision ever.

The school was really supportive and all of the subjects were unique and taught me a lot. Glion gave me a new ‘family’ and it was the best year of my life.”

Q: What are your favorite things about the program, subjects, faculty and teaching methods?

Joana: “The program really makes you feel involved and it is exciting. The classes make us aware of the hospitality industry and train us for the real world, which I think is amazing. The teachers really care and support us, and they are part of our Glion family as well.

My favorite subjects were Events and the applied learning in Switzerland.

I have always loved Events, and we got the chance to organize a traditional May Day in Roehampton. It was an amazing event and all students got involved.

During the applied learning we stayed on the Swiss campus for a few weeks to learn by doing. This was, for me, a perfect and amazing experience as we got to know how the hospitality world really works and how we can improve and do our best, during our kitchen and restaurant practical work. It gave me a feeling of doing a real job and I just loved the environment and non-stop working.

Every day I was committed to becoming better – improving my cooking skills or setting up the dining area well. The teachers are so knowledgeable and they shared their experiences with us all of the time, which made the whole experience even richer (I wish I could go back!)”

Q: How has completing the program benefited you from a professional and personal perspective?

Joana: “I have definitely acquired a lot of benefits by studying at Glion London. I felt an amazing sense of achievement – both personally and professionally – when I had completed my PGD, as I then felt ready for what was coming.

I’d become more independent and mature, and my sense of responsibility was higher. I was confident and I knew how to present myself and approach different people. I’d become more aware of the business and was proud to understand the different areas of the hotel, in addition to having learned how the world of hospitality works. I was glad to have met inspiring hoteliers and guest speakers who shared their best practices with me.

All of the information I had learned in class became a reality inside the hotel, and no term was unrecognizable for me – which made me feel really grateful for having studied with Glion. Noticeably, I had learned how to be patient and how to never stop fighting for my goals to be achieved. I’d learned how to deal with different cultures and respect them, while l had also learned how to be methodical and have a good work/life balance.”

Q: How was your experience of joining the Glion London international student body?

Joana: “It was unique. In my country I’d always had friends and colleagues that were Portuguese.

To be able to get to know people from all around the world gave me a totally different perspective on life. This taught me about others’ cultures, how to approach them and even how to cook their favorite meals. We always had, for example, a Greek day where our Greek colleagues would cook amazing food for everyone, alongside a lot of dancing! It was my favorite!

Glion London is based on the campus of the University of Roehampton, which gave us the chance to be part of two amazing institutions. Our rooms were amazing, as we all had our own room with private en suite bathroom. We had the chance to use the on-site gym and library, and to be part of the University of Roehampton’s Students’ Union activities, such as BOP – the most amazing Friday night party!

I loved the life on campus and it was never a fixed routine: we would spend one day having a picnic in the garden or just walking around campus. We always cooked our meals together.

As we were so close to central London, we spent a lot of time visiting the city and having dinner out. Glion gave me the opportunity to get to know London really well. We would all go together and enjoy amazing days in London, getting to know not only the city but also all of the culture and activities. We went to see the musical ‘Cats’, a theatre production by ‘Cirque du Soleil, and dined out at Burger and Lobster!”

Q: Why would you recommend the postgraduate diploma program at Glion London to future students?

Joana: “The PG program is perfect for students who are looking to get into hospitality but have not had the chance to study it before. It is also great for those who have studied or worked in the industry but want to develop their knowledge.

I had no experience in hotels before enrolling into Glion. It opened up the door for my internship which then led to my current job. I could not be more thankful – I am having so many opportunities and being part of so many projects – it is all I ever wanted.

I highly recommend Glion’s PG program as it gave me a full knowledge of hotels and it furthermore taught me how to work within this immense industry. It’s a valuable investment and it absolutely and definitely opens many doors and prepares us for the future.

Every day I use what I have learned. I need to be able to work in a group within my team, respect my almost 400 colleagues and organize my days in order to be productive, all of which I had to do at Glion London.

It might sound cliché, but studying at Glion gave me the ‘Glion Spirit’ which means family to me; only when you live it will you understand what it means. We were all a big family; we took care of each other and always pushed ourselves together when in need. Our Glion Spirit will always be with us and it makes us part of a big community. I am so proud to say I am part of it.

I keep in touch with all my colleagues and teachers, who invite me for different experiences that improve my knowledge and expertise. It is amazing to get together and share our stories and help each other.

It connects us all worldwide and gives us the best opportunities for our future. Every time I meet a Glion student or alumni, it is like meeting someone from my family. We always have stories and experiences to share and it is such a wonderful feeling – once you are part of it, you are part of it for life.”

Q: What are your plans for the future? Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?

Joana: “I would love to pursue a career in human resources – it has really become my passion. I am about to start my CIPD Level 5 Intermediate Certificate in Human Resources Management so this will help me to develop. I hope to be able to became a human resources manager in the next five years.”

“A Glion mudou a minha vida, foi sem dúvida a melhor experiência e a melhor decisão que tomei até hoje.”

English translation: “Glion changed my life; it was undoubtedly the best experience and best decision I made to this day.”

We warmly thank postgraduate alumna Joana for sharing her Glion journey with us, and wish her the best of luck in all of her future endeavors.

Photo By: Joana

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About the author

Glion Institute of Higher Education
Glion Institute of Higher Education is a private Swiss institution offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in hospitality, luxury and event management to an international student body across three campuses in Switzerland and London, UK.
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