Alumni spotlight: Andrea's career start in Hilton International!

February 21, 2020

I met Andrea several years ago. I remember her as one of the top students that were involved in a super interesting experiential cross-campus project called the RITz dinner at RIT. She was polite, humble, service oriented, willing to learn and contribute. She's one of those people that leave their mark on the world.

Today, I'm walking down our Zagreb campus hall to see Andrea, now an employee of Hilton International. She lives and works in Frankfurt, Germany and came to visit both of our campuses with her supervisor, Erik Altenhofen, a Field Operations Senior Director of Procurement for Hilton in Europe. They're both here to meet our students and present internship and recruitment possibilities.

Hilton: Scouting for best future employees at the best universities

„Students continue to show that they are our most valuable asset and it is always nice to show them what opportunity lays ahead and to guide them at the beginning of their career. So far, we have been visiting universities in the Netherlands, Germany and of course, Croatia," says Altenhofen that has been paying RIT Croatia visit for the second consecutive year.

„I believe universities are well informed about industry trends and are a good and solid base for the students to gain as much information about everything the hospitality and tourism sector has to offer. The knowledge that they gain in schools is great because they come to the workplace with an interested and open mind, and usually ask great questions and provide good solutions. When it comes to partnership with RIT Croatia, we are very happy, because the hospitality and tourism department prepares students well!

Learning about the hospitality industry in an international setting

I haven't seen Andrea since her commencement; as I stepped into a class, I am now looking at a young business woman, preparing the presentation she and her boss will deliver for the students in the room. As she smiles and gives me a hug, she's definitely the same Andrea, but you can see the transformation in her. And I believe it has to do with various opportunities she took on.

Andrea Kecić enrolled at RIT Croatia in 2015 as a hospitality and tourism management student in Dubrovnik. She studied at RIT Croatia's campus in Dubrovnik, then went to the main campus in Rochester and spent two semesters absorbing a different kind of setting. She came back, contributed to our community with amazing ideas and initiatives as she led the Student goverment in Dubrovnik. Finally, she graduated and gave a heartfelt speech as a Class valedictorian. Right before graduation, she attended the very same presentation by Hilton and was very interested to pursue her career with this organization.

Tell us a bit about your current position at Hilton.

Andrea: „Currently, I work as a trainee in Hilton Supply Management regional office that does procurement for properties in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. When Mr. Altenhofen visited our campus in Dubrovnik last year, I decided to give it a shot, applied for an interview and here I am, one year after, deep into various food and beverage suppliers, price regulations, benchmarks, tastings and all the similar wonders that this less known but nevertheless interesting part of the hospitality industry has to offer."

How has RIT Croatia prepared you for this job?

Andrea: „The program overall has really defined my hospitality and customer service-oriented mindset. I believe this gave me a certain advantage, because I could showcase my personality and customer-oriented. I believe this brought a fresh set of eyes to some projects that we encountered in the team. Besides, everything we do in the office is to ensure that hotels have what they need to satisfy the guests’ needs. Looking back, it was very beneficial that I had the classes like Lodging Operations and International Destinations, among many others, as well as my co-ops, that taught me the basics of running a hotel and how the hotel industry operates. I must admit, it is a lot easier to jump into a conversation when you already know ADR is Average Daily Rate, what is RevPAR and how to calculate it, and which occupancy can be expected in which time of the year."

What is the best thing about working in the field you work in?

Andrea: „Number one thing I always highlight is being a part of an amazing team. I really think HSM owes its success primarily because of all the passionate people that care about what they’re doing and as a result, they are making ground breaking progress and changes in the industry. Supply Management is a very numbers-dependent part of the hospitality industry, so having such a personal touch to everything HSM does in addition to dealing with numbers is really humbling to be a part of because you can honestly experience the best of both worlds."

What does your day look like?

Andrea: „The commute isn't too bad, it's approximately 30-40 minutes door-to-door and I usually listen to music and try not to get lost between many people boarding S8 in direction Wiesbaden Hauptbanhof. The morning work routine is always the same – open email, respond emails, and then start work on/finalizing the projects I have been working on. Those are usually market researches, tenders, benchmarks & price comparisons, and supporting our customers and my colleagues the best I can. Once a week we have a team meeting at which we update each other on the status of our projects and share all important information with the rest of the team, as well as plan, strategize and prioritize our tasks and projects to figure out the most efficient way forward.

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