ICMS graduate Alejandro Jara is the owner and founder of Black and White Waiters, Sydney’s leading boutique Wait and Bar staffing agency, providing well-presented and professional personnel to the Sydney events industry. B&W is also a valued industry partner of ICMS and provides an annual scholarship opportunity to current hospitality or events management students.
Q: What is the secret to success in this niche area of the events and hospitality industry?
I would say that the secret has been to really understand the needs and vision of our clients and propose solutions and ideas to make their vision a reality. In a world where people keep doing more of the same, it is not hard to be different. You just need to believe in your product and propose it to your clients so they will benefit in ways they never thought possible. Minute attention to detail and taking each job extremely seriously has also been the thing which has helped us grow. Some companies, in time, become content with their systems and stop giving the time and attention that their clients need. It is an easy trap to be caught in; however, there is an opportunity for young companies to take advantage of this and gain market share.
Q: What year did you graduate from ICMS, and with what qualification?
I graduated in December 2009 with a Bachelor of Business Management (Event Management). I was 23 at the time and started B&W a month before graduation.
Q: What career achievements are you especially proud of?
There is not just one career achievement or event in particular that I am proud of; I am grateful in general for the whole journey. One thing that I am proud of is the fact that I tried. Even if my business had not been successful, I would have still been proud of trying.
Furthermore, I am also proud that I didn’t give up during the first year where I had many challenges. The rest has just been a beautiful journey of growth but, believe me, the first few months were very difficult.
Q: What prompted you to partner with ICMS in a scholarship opportunity for current hospitality or events management students?
ICMS has always been extremely helpful with me and I still feel at home when I walk into the castle. I felt that starting a scholarship partnership with ICMS would be mutually beneficial and it was also a way to support the institution that supported me in the past, and which still supports me now. The Scholarships opportunity also gives us the chance to recruit directly from the college and we have been extremely happy with the students that now form part of the staff of Black and White Waiters.
Q: What is the first thing you tell B&W scholarship winners when they first start their internship at B&W?
I tell them that I am a big believer in young students as I was one of them when I started B&W. I tell them that there will be endless opportunities to grow and develop within this business if they enjoy working with us and would like to stay and grow with us.
Q: How has your ICMS degree contributed to you achieving your professional goals?
Since the beginning and even now I put into practice all the knowledge and philosophy of service I learnt during my degree. I believe that my professional success goes hand in hand with my studies at ICMS.
Q: What were your highlights during your time at ICMS?
The feeling I had every day walking towards “The Castle” (ICMS campus is in a castle in Manly, NSW). I felt grateful to be attending ICMS and inspired to achieve all the goals that I had set before me. Another highlight were the friendships for life I formed, and these friends then also became industry connections. A standout moment for me was after a project in term five where I had to organise and lead my own event. That day was confirmation for me that I was passionate about my chosen career.
Q: What would be your advice to someone considering studying at ICMS?
I would tell them that they are about to start one of the most special journeys of their life and that they must make sure to enjoy every second of it! I would also tell them to make as many friends as possible and to be proactive in learning. It is easy to just go to the classrooms and pass the exams. However, those who take risks and genuinely try their best are the ones who are truly making the most of the resources ICMS offers. You can do this by staying after class and asking questions; putting your hand up to be the leader of teams or projects; learning how to get organised so you have a balanced lifestyle; take internships and opportunities, and more.
Q: What is the best thing about working in your industry?
I personally enjoy working with event and catering people who are truly passionate about what they do and who are willing to be different and create “wow” experiences. Also, this industry is quite focused on personal relationships, so even though it can be hard at times, there is a very strong spiritual aspect to the development and maintenance of these relationships which I find fascinating.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
For me, life is not all about work. Work forms a very important part of my life but it is not the most important part.
On a professional level, I see B&W as the largest and most luxurious event staffing agency worldwide. The company will have offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane by 2022 and will be in the process of setting up and establishing itself in at least three different fashion capitals of the world by 2027. I want to create a brand that eventually will be recognised and established all over the world.
On a personal level, I see myself married and with kids. I want to have the same freedom I have now to do the things I like to do and to never do the things that I “have to do”. I will continue setting up my business in ways that it can operate and grow without me so I can also have the time to continue working on my personal and spiritual development, as well as having time to look after my family.