After a short break, our popular ‘My First Job’ feature series is back! First in the spotlight is Sebastian Armentano, who earned not one but two Master’s degrees from Glion before securing an executive role in the up-and-coming tourism destination of Zanzibar.
Name: Sebastian Armentano
Programs: MSc in Luxury Management and Guest Experience (class of 2021) and MSc in Hospitality, Entrepreneurship and Innovation (class of 2022)
Position: Executive Office Manager
Company: Zuri Zanzibar Hotel and Resort
When started: July 2021
For those in that select group, securing a Master’s degree represents a pinnacle of academic achievement. In the UK, for example, Master’s graduates form less than 2% of the adult population.
Sebastian Armentano occupies an even more rarified level, since during the past two years he earned not one but two Master’s degrees from Glion – starting with the MSc in Luxury Management and Guest Experience in 2021, then concluding with the MSc in Hospitality, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, from which he graduated earlier this year.
Now Sebastian has translated his academic excellence into a fast-rising career at the Zuri Zanzibar Hotel and Resort, an upscale village-like property comprising 56 rooms and suites, which boasts its own private beach among other attractions.
How did he find his way to this Indian Ocean paradise? “During the pandemic, I reached out to resorts through every channel I could,” he explains. “In this case, my CV was handed over through the owner of the hotel to the HR department. They thought I would not fit at all; however, the General Manager had wanted to study in Glion but did not have the chance. Very soon, we became good friends and others quickly caught up to understand why he chose me to come and work for Zuri.”
Glion’s hard-won reputation clearly counts for alumni like Sebastian. And it is a reputation which rests on the strongest of foundations.
“When I see hard working individuals who have been in the industry for many years, it is very clear that ‘Glioners’ are just on a different level. Tasks that experienced people struggle with we can complete effectively and almost effortlessly, with elegance. It is because of the case studies we do day and night and of the block teaching – if I have a larger project, I want it done in a week.”
Sebastian joined the Zuri Zanzibar resort as a management trainee. “However, as soon as I got here, I became Guest Relations Manager; and when the General Manager saw my work, he wanted me to work with him on strategic projects. In two months after starting, I became Executive Office Manager. Now, six months in, I am taking responsibility for whole departments.”
The role of Executive Office Manager gives Sebastian an opportunity to be exposed to all the roles and responsibilities of departments across the property. He has already covered for the manager of the hotel’s watersports center and, as this article went live, he was performing a similar stand-in service for the Director of F&B.
“I strongly believe that being exposed as quickly as possible to everything involved in keeping a resort running is the best way to get the experience I need to become a General Manager and Regional Manager sooner in my career. I am thankful that the management knows my potential and what can I bring to the table as a Glion student.”
Among the things Sebastian believes he can bring to the table from his time at Glion is an aptitude for problem solving. This he finds especially useful for working in a developing economy like Zanzibar, where the infrastructure and bureaucracy are different to that typically found in Europe.
“One of the other big things I took away from Glion was an ability to cooperate with different people, to teach them new things and learn from them. To give them the ability to express themselves and cooperate as a team. If you have a team, leading as well as earning respect can be challenging. By collaborating with them, rather than giving them straightforward tasks, it brings you a long way in terms of personal relations. It is a skill I learned the hard way in my Glion classes, when my classmates told me that I was being too ‘bossy’! I adopted a different management style that is proving to be a very helpful one.”
The third useful skill he says he learned in Glion is to be effective with his research and thorough in his execution. “It is something my managers appreciate highly; they are often surprised the speed of response they get from me which, once again, builds respect and trust. And this in turn leads to more open discussions about the plans for the hotel and to new job opportunities.”
“One of the other big things I took away from Glion was an ability to cooperate with different people, to teach them new things and learn from them. To give them the ability to express themselves and cooperate as a team.”
Advice to the ambitious
In terms of future opportunities, Sebastian has ambitions to be employed as Front Office Manager or a higher position. “In five years, I am confident that I could assume the role of a General Manager of a 5* resort. In 10 years, I would love to be a Regional Manager for a hotel chain,” he adds.
For now, though, he signs off with some advice for current students looking towards their own #FirstJob adventures.
“Look everywhere you can, be flexible, be humble, but be seen – especially by other managers. And don’t be afraid of lower-level positions. Also, travel the world, and put yourself in uncomfortable positions. Discomfort is good; always put yourself in these positions as it will help you to evolve and to become more effective in coming up with solutions.
“Last but not least, if you manage to land in a subtropical area, as I have, then you’ll have lots of fun – especially if you like water. You will quickly gain lots and lots of experience in people management. And, although I love dressing up, I don’t have to wear a suit!”