Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Alpine Success Story | Philippe Charalambopoulos - BA(Hons) International Hospitality & Tourism Management

Philippe Charalambopoulos

BA(Hons) International Hospitality & Tourism Management 

Hospitality Management was not my first choice but it was my final one. I had already attended two other colleges with completely different majors, environmental sciences in the US and music production in the UK. Besides being an avid music lover, I had a passion to work with the people and help the environment. I experienced this first hand when I volunteered in various countries both in South East Asia and in East Africa. For me this was an education, something you can never learn in a classroom but only through experiences, mistakes that in the end become life lessons. I learnt more from poor local farmers than my environmental science professor could ever teach me in class. Working more with the local communities in each country, I fell in love with volunteering and at a younger age, hoped I could do this for the rest of my life. Reality, however, hit me hard and I knew volunteering would not be sustainable for me in the long run. Returning to Athens from Kenya, I made a vow that I will return and continue to help these people whenever I have the chance. Now, I had to think what career path I wanted to follow. I would have never thought hospitality, until my mother and a few friends suggested the idea to me and informed me there was an excellent college for that, right in my home city, Glyfada!

So, I decided to meet Sybil Hofmann, President of Alpine Center Programs, and get as much information about the college as I could before making my final decision. Being in the same office three years later, a couple of weeks ago, shaking her hand, being congratulated on the completion of a great three years and upcoming graduation, we both could not believe how fast these years went by. Just three years earlier we were discussing the courses, the tutors, the possibilities and now, shaking her hand, I realized all of that was over, the academic chapter of my life had now come to an end, with the chapter to my career slowly opening.

In these three years at Alpine Center, the Hospitality & Tourism Management Department of City Unity College in Greece, I met incredible people, learnt from great professors and general managers and made lifelong friends. It was the best college out of all three I had attended, simply because of the love its faculty, staff and management have for hospitality, education and their students. Through the intimidating first few months of year 1 and the mind wrecking last months of year 3, I had substantial help from all my tutors and the amazing Dean Dr Jean Suvatzis. The 6 months I would spend in the classrooms were extremely informative but also fun, being around so many likeminded but different people was exhilarating as well as meeting people from all walks of life and countries of the Earth. But the cherry on the cake for me really was the practical aspect of the Swiss Alpine Center, or the internships.

I worked in one of the best luxury boutique resort chains in the world, Aman Resorts. I would advise future students to really try and work abroad, it gives you a totally different experience than working in Greece. I was already used to the solitude and difficulties of living abroad through my volunteering, so I was completely open to everything new I was to learn in Sveti Stefan, Montenegro. This turned out to be the best internship for me, as I made a great impression on the managers and owners of the resort, being offered a management position if I was to return next year. As I said in the beginning though, hospitality was my final and best choice, because I could combine all three of my passions into one career. Now, shaking Sybil’s hand, I have just applied for a management trainee program with a leading international chain of hotels. I could not be happier because now I am fully prepared by the college to take on whatever responsibilities may come my way. The combination of this confidence with the unknown is exhilarating.

I can now follow my dream of traveling the world, by offering stellar service, staying ahead of the curve and also by always giving back and helping the local communities and environment. I was now going to be paid for doing the things I loved. This for me, is complete success and happiness, since I was able to turn my passion into a career. There is no point in doing a job you hate, getting up every day wishing the day would end, if you are given an opportunity to do something you love, take the bull by the horns and go for it, because in the end it is all worth it and you will be living the rest of your life happy. I know I am exhilarated and this is all thanks to the careful guidance of Sybil Hoffman, the academic expertise and knowledge of my professors as well as learning the tricks of the trade from various managers in the internships.

Philippe (fourth from left) with his Integrated Project Team of students with Mr Megaloeconomou, Mr Paroussis and Mrs Hofmann.

Philippe served as Class President on the Student Council for two consecutive years.

In the third year, presenting his Entrepreneurial Business Plan

With the boys on Career Day

  Loved by all!

With the Masai’s in Kenya

Teaching young children in Thailand as a volunteer!

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