Hervé Puy's Story
I worked in a bank for 5 years until I was 30, when I decided I did not feel comfortable with the relationship with my clients and switched to hospitality. So, at the age of 30, I went back to school. I already had a degree in sales management and when I left the bank I did a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management. Was it difficult to go back to school aged 30? I think it would have been more difficult to stay at the bank!
I had no previous experience in hospitality so I worked as a temporary waiter in hotels in Stratford-upon-Avon and studied at the same time for six months. I went back to France to finish my degree but I needed to improve my English, so I applied for a working holiday visa and moved to Australia for a year, where worked for six months as a food & beverage attendant in Novotel Darling Harbour Sydney. Then I travelled around the country and found another job at Club Med, where I stayed for two months as a bar tender but I had six days on and one day off per week, and I decided I was too old for that and returned to France.
After two months in France, I flew to St. Martin in the Caribbean; I wanted to travel and enjoy life – I thought, it’s now or never! I applied to some hotels to work at the front desk to get some experience in another department of the hotel industry.
I got a six-month contract at Mercure St. Martin resort and I worked as a front office agent and night auditor. At the end of the contract, my front office manager offered me to go to French Guiana, and then I started at the Mercure Kourou Ariatel. Guests were engineers and technicians but they stayed for three months in small bungalows and there was not much interaction with them.
After a month working at the Mercure I had the opportunity to take a job as deputy manager at an independent hotel with 37 rooms. That was interesting because I could manage the whole team. However, I saw the difference between working in a hotel chain with operational policies and managers who are trained, and working in an independent hotel. After a few months I didn’t agree with most of the decisions management made about running the team; there were no barriers between work and private life and it was not very respectful.
After 3 years working abroad, I came back to France and so that I could stay close to my family. I applied to hotels in Geneva and they offered me a job as receptionist at the Rotary in 2010. I moved from deputy manager in French Guiana to front desk agent again in Geneva.
In 2015, we closed the hotel for six months for a renovation. They offered me the position as sales manager to fulfil an ambitious goal to attract more guests, and I took that up in 2014, seven and a half years ago.
I don’t have a plan for my next move. The general manager trusts me and I enjoy collaborating with him. I do not want to be defined by sales management, I want to be where I can be most useful for the hotel.
Anyone who works in hospitality has to love people, to love sharing experiences with them and to care about them; that is true of guests and colleagues. We did Accor Heartist training and I agree 200 per cent with this; we are all different but we all have a heart and it’s nice to speak from the heart. It doesn’t matter what your language, education or culture is, you just need to be open minded – to give and receive, to be patient. Follow your feelings!
As a first job, hospitality is great because there are so many ways to work in the industry – operational team, front desk, restaurant, HR, housekeeping, accountancy, revenue management… You can start in one area and after a couple of years, apply to work in another. And you can work in any country you want; you have great freedom. It is important to consider working in a hotel chain like Accor because there are policies to provide work-life balance but when you join independent hotel, you don’t know what you will get.
- Hervé Puy
- Sales Manager
- Hotel Rotary Geneva – MGallery (Switzerland)