ICMS alumnus Gemma Bennett’s student industry placement led to her current role within Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour, the perks of which included a seat at the 2017 Australian Open final.
Q: What year did you graduate from ICMS, and with what qualification?
I graduated in 2012 with a Macquarie Bachelor of Business. I also graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor of Business Management from the International College of Management, Sydney (ICMS). I wanted to go on exchange in the United States and completed half of the degree at Johnson & Wales, Providence, USA.
Q: Where did you do your industry training, and how has that helped you in your career?
I began my industry training at Q Station in Manly the year I started studying at ICMS and remained working there for six years while studying and travelling. I wouldn’t have the job I have now if I didn’t gain that industry training placement. In the last few years that I worked at Q Station it was taken over by Accor in the Mirvac acquisition. This enabled me to transfer internally into my next role, which was at the Novotel Manly (also managed by Accor). After four years at the Novotel Manly I transferred to the Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour which is where I work today.
Q: What is your current role, and with what company?
My current role is Executive Assistant to the General Manager and Hotel Manager at the Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour.
Q: What career achievements are you especially proud of?
My greatest achievement so far is obtaining my current role. It was an honour to be chosen to be as part of the team that opened Sydney’s first new build hotel in 17 years. Whilst the opening was challenging it has been incredibly rewarding to see how far we have come since we opened our doors on 6 October 2017.
Q: How has your ICMS degree contributed to you achieving your professional goals?
Whilst the education I obtained at ICMS has assisted with my overall understanding of business and the tourism industry, the industry training I underwent as part of my studies has ultimately lead me to where I am today.
Q: What were the major contributing factors to your decision to study at ICMS?
I would be lying if I said ICMS’ location wasn’t the major contributing factor to wanting to study there, especially as I have always lived in Manly. I knew I wanted to study tourism and it was between ICMS and UTS Kurringai. After my acceptance at ICMS with a Commonwealth Supported Place the decision was very easy.
Q: What were your highlights during your time at ICMS?
There are so many, including the Icebreaker parties, auctions to raise money for Bear Cottage, Tuesday nights at Shark Bar with other students, the graduation ceremonies and, of course, the exchange program I undertook in the United States with two of my best friends (who were also students at ICMS). I also made some amazing friendships over the time I spent at ICMS.
Q: What would be your advice to someone considering studying at ICMS?
Do it – there isn’t a more beautiful place to study in the world, you will receive a well-recognised education from industry professionals and forever look back at your time at ICMS as some of the best years of your life. I encouraged my brother, Tom Bennett, to study at ICMS and he would say the same!
Q: What is the best thing about working in your industry?
The best thing about working in hotels is the relationships you develop with both your colleagues and guests. I have met guests over the years that I continue to stay in touch with.
I also love creating special and memorable moments for guests during their holidays; it is incredibly rewarding. No one day is ever the same and whilst the work can be tough at times, I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.
We also receive some very attractive discounts whilst travelling ourselves which is a nice perk!
Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
I really love being an Executive Assistant. The role suits my personality and I love the variety. In 10 years I predict I would be an EA for a Senior VP at a Hotel company. Alternatively, I could see myself working in a management role, for example as a Guest Experience Manager.
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