ALUMNI SUCCESS

  Duje Tudor
  RIT Croatia, Class of 2002
  Hotel and Resort Management (IHSM)

  Employment:  Le Meridien Lav

  Job title: Purchasing Manager


 

 

Duje, tell us a bit about yourself and your RIT Croatia experience. 

I was a part of the first RIT Croatia (ACMT in those days) generation and I graduated in 2002 (hospitality management). What I found the best about this program were the instructors – the faculty. They were very friendly, cooperative and knowledgeable with an attitude I had never experienced before. They motivated me a lot and made a huge impact not only on my professional life, but also on my life in general. The knowledge, inspiration and "little” wisdoms they gave me, are the most valuable things I carry from my college years.

You have been with the Le Meridien Lav since 2006, what attracted you to develop your career under their umbrella?

I have been a part of the Le Meridien Lav team from day one and was a part of the opening team. At that time, the hotel was the only five-star hotel from Istria to Dubrovnik. It was part of the Starwood hotels, and joining this successful world renowned hotel chain was something I saw a great opportunity in. This is the place I knew I would professionally be able to grow and it was a privilege for me to be a part of this unique story from the beginning. It didn’t take a long time to fit in the team and today I am proud to call a lot of my co-workers not only colleagues but also true friends. Today I can state with certainty that this was a great choice since I really did gain precious experience I had hoped for. In 2015, Marriott hotels took over Starwood hotels, and since then we have been a part of the Marriott hotels group. A great thing about being a part of the biggest hotel group in the world is the constant learning through numerous educations giving us insights in the best world practices but still having the freedom to add our own unique touch, which I believe, offers added value and making our hotel a successful one.

In regards to the COVID-19 pandemic, do you see the changes that are occurring as a threat or opportunity? How do you see the hotel industry developing in the future?

2019 year was a record one for my hotel, and at the beginning of 2020 we had predictions that this year will beat 2019. And then the pandemic happened and for the first time in hotel history we closed our hotel. This was a great shock for all of us and at the beginning it was a hard time having to deal with it. During the lockdown we had many meetings and discussions on how to deal with this situation. Our reservations mostly got cancelled and we were afraid that we would not open at all. But it didn’t take us a long time to get motivated again. As always, the hard times make people more creative and strong. We did our best to create a very safe environment for our guests as well as for all the employees and we see that things have started to move in the positive direction.

The pandemic made people afraid to travel and mix with others and it totally killed the MICE segment which is a great part of our business. On the other side, people are eager to go to vacation to relax and put the troubles aside which I hope will bring things back to normal soon. Because of this pandemic, the guests are very sensitive and the hotel industry will surely have to work even more on creating a safe environment in order to attract guests in the future. Cleanliness has always been number one in the hospitality business and today even more so.  

How important was the experience you gained during your internships for you when you started your career? How do you see the culture of internships developing in the future?

The work experience that I gained during my internships was crucial for my career development. I did one internship is city of Hvar working for Sunčani Hvar Company, and 3 internships in the USA. I worked for Hyatt hotels, and Washington Duke hotel which was voted the best university hotel in the USA. This helped me a lot to learn about hotel operations and to gain proper working habits and experience. Because of this experience I easily got the job with Le Meridien Lav hotel. During my work in Le Meridien Lav I had the opportunity to mentor many students. That was challenging but exciting. I tried to teach them how to put their theory knowledge into practice. These two often don’t seem to correspond but with the right experience the knowledge gained in school makes the practice act fast, flexible, and with the right decisions. I highly recommend to all students to join internship programs, to visit other countries, to learn about other cultures, and to grow as people.

In the future I would like to see the Internship program in the live, RIT-owned hotel where students would work in and manage the hotel (or a tourist agency, restaurant, etc.). This is the place where RIT students could work together with the alumni and faculty who would mentor them. I see this as a win-win situation.

How important is the quality education in dealing with unexpected and challenging times? How has RIT Croatia prepared you for this?

Quality education is what gives you the right foundations for your future career. Times are always challenging and unpredictable. RIT prepared us to think outside the box, to be creative, to work in teams. This gives us flexibility and ability to have good solutions when needed. We have the courage to make decisions and not to be afraid of challenges. Challenging times build you as a manager. I think that RIT students should accept challenges and deal with them in order to grow as human beings as well as managers. And this really is something that sets the RIT student apart from all the others.
  

Thinking back on your days at RIT Croatia, what is your favorite memory?

Together with fellow student Toni Ljubetić, and support from ACMT Dean and faculty, I was one of the founders of the ACMT basketball team TIGERS. We played tournaments and local leagues. We trained in high school gym. Our first coach was Mr. Iocco, the husband of our instructor at the time - Barbara Cerio Iocco. Later we found the coach from Dubrovnik who was former basketball player. His name is Perica Mijović. We are all still in contact and grew to be more then sportsmen and even friends. I can say that we became family.

Thinking back, I have to also say that college years changed my life in total. RIT is the place where I met my wife. She was valedictorian of class 2002. Her name is Marina and today we have two "ACMT kids” named Vito and Julia.

College days were the best days of my life. I had great times hanging out with friends, playing basketball and going to classes. Dubrovnik was my home for 4 years, and I always like to go back to it.

Are you still in contact with your classmates?

Of course! I am in contact with many classmates. We have our own WhatsApp groups, and we are in touch all the time. We have organized many veteran basketball games in Dubrovnik and every year we go to visit our former coach Perica. I also have many business connections with many of my classmates.

What is your message to our current and potential students?

I would highly recommend potential students to join RIT Croatia and to experience a totally different type of educational system. A system where you are treated with respect, a system that inspires and motivates and where you will learn how to think logically, how to work in teams and how to fulfill your full potential. For current students I have a message: do not be afraid! For your first jobs, embrace to start from the beginning. What builds a strong manager is knowledge and experience. Finally, I will recommend RIT Croatia to my kids.


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