The value of an MBA in a competitive job market
Alumna Natalya Malysheva (MBA 2015) knows a thing or two about getting ahead in a competitive job market. When we first contacted Natalya for an interview, she was fresh out of the MBA in Hospitality and Service industries Management working as an assistant manager in group strategy and performance for the Palm Jumeirah Dubai, of the Rixos Hotel Group. A month later, she sent an email to say her position had been made redundant. Then, a mere three weeks later, she was already looking forward to a new role in the company.
During her interview, Natalya explained how she turned being made redundant into an opportunity to advance and shared advice for getting the best value out of an MBA in hospitality.
Why get an MBA in Hospitality?
From first-hand experience, Natalya knows how hard it can be to find the right job in the vast world of hospitality. After graduating with her Bachelor Degree in Hospitality Administration from Boston University, she set out to acquire professional experience in Front Office at the Lowell Hotel, a luxury boutique hotel in New York City.
“I went on to get a job in NYC as Front Office trainee at the Lowell Hotel. It was a fantastic experience, it was really well rounded. It was 72 rooms, so it was small enough that it gave me a lot of responsibility, I got to work be in sales and marketing, front office, concierge and everything rolled into one,” says Natalya.
“After that, I went to work in my family’s business Solf-Sauna in Berlin. My family had just renovated the sauna. My mom did all of the decoration and furnishings but she had never been in hospitality, so I stepped in to help. I did the work of setting up the business, the operational side, putting in the computer systems, managing the human resources and reducing the payroll, because we had too many employees at first. That’s the problem with a family business; it’s really hard to draw the line on what’s best for the business. I worked by establishing cleaning schedules, designing the menu, doing inventory, deciding who does what and how.”
After a year of working as the operations manager of the Solf-Sauna GMBH in Berlin, Natalya decided it was time to move on.
“I wanted to go my own direction. It was my mom’s business, not mine, and I wanted to keep experiencing the industry. I started looking for a job but it was hard to find. It’s really hard to find jobs in Europe, in Germany for example, if you don’t have a master’s. The company must prove why they will hire you instead of a national. So for someone with my nationality it can be hard to fill the criteria there. I didn’t want to fall into a career gap,” explains Natalya.
The Necessary Experience for MBA
“I looked for a master’s in hospitality and I considered Les Roches, Glion and EHL. When I went to Glion, it was fantastic to learn from the experiences that other students brought to the classroom. It’s essential to have experience for MBA, you need that experience to contribute in the program.”
“What’s great about a hospitality degree is that you come out with experience, other programs don’t do that. Sometimes people go into a master’s without experience and then even with their degree they must start at the bottom, although they probably have the skills to grow and build their careers faster.”
She continues, “In the MBA, you also build the capacity to learn, adapt and advance much faster. It’s important to come into the degree with experience as it gives you the know-how, and it makes you work hard, but then the MBA makes you work harder, you learn to push big projects, to complete lengthy papers, etc. It’s sort of the same environment as a hospitality world with the fast-paced environment.”
Connections & Professional Benefits of MBA
Typically, Glion graduates cite networking and connections as a major advantage of the MBA. This held true for Natalya, as during the final semester of her MBA, she was recommended for the position at Rixos Hotels by one of her professors.
“I wouldn’t have gotten this position if it hadn’t been for my MBA at Glion, it wasn’t advertised publically. I got it because I was recommended by a professor. My future boss was also a Glion alumnus, and had also worked on a Kempinski Applied Business Project. So my work style and flow was similar to his, which gave me the advantage against another candidate.”
About her time at Rixos Hotels so far, Natalya shares how impressive the work culture and growth of the company have been. “It’s been a really intense atmosphere,” she says, “We secured businesses because of my projects and the work I’ve done which was very rewarding. One of the first things I was asked to do was to create the mission, vision, values and brand promise. It was cool to do something so big for a company, to establish what it is as a brand. For me, it’s sad that this position is ending, but it’s also a new beginning and I think sales will be close to my heart.”
Turning Redundancy into Opportunity
Learning that your position is being “made redundant” is never pleasant, and it’s usually not personal, as companies restructure positions and roles for many reasons. Sometimes, being restructured out of one role can be an opportunity to take up a new, maybe even better, role within the organization. Natalya explains how she did it:
“When I was talking to our group director of sales and marketing, she was shocked to learn I was being made redundant and she asked me if I wanted to go into sales and marketing. First, she asked me where I studied and about my degree, because I would have had to start as a coordinator without experience. But learning that I had an MBA from Glion, she suggested they start me in an intermediate role. With an MBA in hospitality, you already have experience and you know the terminology and the workings of different departments because that’s what hospitality management education instils in you. So right now they are putting me in a cluster sales position, responsible for not one but two, hotels in the group. If I was to go into another company, they might allow me to have an entry-level role but because I have a strong relationship with the people in this company they know my capacity to work.”
Transitioning into a New Role
As she prepares to start a new role, Natalya explains how she’s seeking support and structure to ensure she has the right hard-skills to work in a new department.
“I’m a people person, so the transition is natural and people are very supportive. I’ve had conversations with key people and they’ve developed a handbook for the department, partly for me because I’m so new, and also because they’re always trying to improve their procedures. I’m not in the managerial world yet, I still have managers above me, group managers, and I’ll have two people below me who are coordinators that I can rely on for support in some projects. So I’ve got people above me who are telling me what to do, teaching me training me and it’s a role that has a lot of support. It’s so important when you are applying for jobs to look at the organizational chart and see who you are reporting to and who that person is, and who you’re responsible for and what they are like.”
We thank Natalya for sharing her time and her insights and invite people to get in touch with her via her LinkedIn page if they want to know more about her experience.