Hélène Cregut-Aston AIH is a manager-in-training at the Roger Smith Hotel in New York City and a graduate of Les Roches in Switzerland. She recently joined the Institute of Hospitality and is taking part in Mentor Me, our unique mentoring programme with Neil Shorthouse FIH as her mentor.
Why did you choose hospitality over other professions?
I grew up in a very hard-working family who created a retail company 60 years ago. I had the opportunity to experience and learn the basics of leadership and high standards which naturally lead me to hospitality and guest experience.
To be honest, hospitality has always been the one for me. I never questioned myself about working in any other industry, as I felt that from a young age I had already found my path. I have had the chance to travel to different countries, experience the diversity and culture of each country. This hunger to discover other countries and grow in contact with other people is a real drive and motivation for me.
You studied for an international certificate in corporate finance via a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). How was this experience?
I took the initiative as a strategic plan for my future. If one day I am in an executive position, I would then be able to analyse, discuss and make the right decisions. The online certificate represented a personal challenge due to the high requirements and studying alone. Besides the educational part, the MOOC taught me to stay motivated and determined.
How are you enjoying living and working in New York?
After working in California for six months, New York has been my second experience in the United States. I always dreamed of living in the Big Apple. I am a manager in training at the Roger Smith Hotel and have experienced different departments of the hotel such as events, housekeeping, F&B, reservation and guest services. I am learning very fast to deal with tough situations but also grow personally to find my own leadership style in a work environment where tasks and role assignments are very strict due to union rules.
Besides work, living in New York is incredible: the opportunities to meet people from different nationalities and backgrounds are endless. Additionally, I explore the new trends in hospitality with new hotel openings such as the Hoxton and I am discovering cuisine from all over the world. Living in New York is constantly rewarding and I am enjoying every second of it.
How are you finding your mentoring programme?
I first decided to join the Institute’s Mentor Me programme because it would help me during my management training to find in which department I would like to work, but also to have someone I can rely on professionally to guide me. Neil Shorthouse FIH and I get along very well. Each skype session is different. I feel confortable with Neil to talk about my doubts, challenges or simply exchange thoughts about new trends in hospitality. He is a great listener and always gives me good advice through his previous or current experiences. As a graduate student, especially in hospitality, I think it can be confusing and stressful to know where and how to start your career and Neil has helped me to define my project.
The Mentor Me programme is extremely rewarding. I went to a conference last October organised by Glamour magazine called ‘Women of the year’ and they had a talk led by Alexa Von Tobel about the importance of mentoring. I totally understood the purpose of her talk. The fact that with the Insitute, all members can access mentoring for free is quite amazing.
What are your plans for 2019 ?
I have a need to be constantly challenged both personally and professionally. I always try to grow and explore new things. 2019 will be a busy year as I plan to publish my Master’s Degree dissertation which talks about the Impact of female leadership on employee motivation and profitability in hospitality. Additionally, I plan to attend conferences such as TedTalk about hospitality, digitalization and leadership, plus networking events as I will be looking for a job. Last but not least, I plan to travel within the US and also Cuba.