Distance Learning Students Inspire Through Educational Success Stories
09, September 2017 - By Elizabeth Johnson
While a formal post-secondary degree is not required for many hospitality positions, professional development and education can help employees to advance and excel in their careers.
For nearly 65 years, the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) has offered Distance Learning courses to help people achieve their educational goals, even if they can’t attend college.
We’d like you to meet a few of these students.
Georges Farhat, general manager of the Crowne Plaza Dubai, UAE, completed AHLEI’s 12-course Hospitality Management Diploma through online learning in a record five months. He said that completing the program taught him the strength of his determination and boosted his professional confidence. He also said he wanted to set an example for his staff.
Age is no barrier for acquiring and constantly upgrading knowledge.
“Age is no barrier for acquiring and constantly upgrading knowledge,” he stated. “I was able to inspire my team to enroll for a higher education by giving personal examples and build a culture of high performance not only for myself but for the entire team.”
Farhat cited several examples of how he used the knowledge and information gained through his AHLEI coursework to improve performance at his property.
“I enhanced my marketing knowledge to showcase our product in a strategic manner. I have streamlined the recruitment process and am working toward greater employee engagement through focus group discussion for teams,” he said.
Tesa Lopez, public area supervisor, Terranea Resort, Manhattan Beach, California, began taking Distance Learning courses to help her make the transition from a retail background to a hospitality career. Because she has a son in college and because of her work schedule, pursuing her own college degree was not an option, but AHLEI’s program was. Scholarships from the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation (AHLEF) and the California Hotel & Lodging Association Education Foundation also made it possible for her to pursue her educational goals.
“I was very motivated to pursue my education to increase my understanding of the hospitality industry and enhance my leadership skills,” said Lopez. “My courses helped me to understand not only my area of work in public area housekeeping, but I can see how all the departments are connected to each other in providing service to guests and maintaining an outstanding customer experience.”
Terranea is a 102-acre, eco-friendly resort, which means that Lopez must take into account issues of sustainability and recycling as well as cleanliness and order while managing her team.
I enjoy what I do and I have a passion to see and admire the view of my resort every single day.
“When I come to work at Terranea, I don’t just go to work, but I go to teach what I have learned and to have fun with guest, my team, and co-workers,” said Lopez. “I enjoy what I do and I have a passion to see and admire the view of my resort every single day.”
Shawn Sands, CRM, CFBE, restaurant manager IV, Mosaic, the Cove Atlantis, Bahamas, has earned both the Hospitality Management and Food & Beverage Management Diplomas. He is a long-time AHLEI student, having earned the Food & Beverage Certificate of Specialization in 2007. He has also earned the professional designations of Certified Restaurant Manager (CRM) in 2011, and Certified Food & Beverage Executive (CFBE®) in 2013.
I realized that what I did was not just a job, it was a full-time career that truly made an everlasting difference in people’s lives.
Sands began his career as a cook and has been promoted to sous chef, and then through various levels of restaurant manager for various F&B outlets at the property. He has used information from his coursework to implement procedures that have resulted in greater efficiency and improved customer satisfaction scores. For instance, at The Cove Atlantis, he implemented new systematic service operating procedures that increased both profits and guest satisfaction. As restaurant manager at the Mosaic at The Cove, he has established customer service training, health and safety programs, and maintenance/ cleaning programs that have increased employee productivity.
Sands said that he chose AHLEI’s courses to feel more confident and to gain knowledge to share with others.
“I am from the Bahamas, where tourism is our number one industry. With representing one of the biggest employers — Atlantis — I wanted to be the best at what I do,” he said. “I realized that what I did was not just a job, it was a full-time career that truly made an everlasting difference in people’s lives. This program encourages me to continue to take more steps in ensuring that I continue to progress in my career and encourage others to do the same.”
Marion Green, general manager, Naval Station Everett Navy Gateway Inns & Suites (NGIS), Marysville, Washington, began taking AHLEI’s hospitality management distance learning courses in 2007, after first earning the Certified Front Desk Representative certification in 2005. He completed the Hospitality Management Diploma in 2014, and credits his coursework with giving him the foundation he needed to excel in his career and be promoted to general manager.
“The courses gave me the tools I needed to use as a supervisor,” he said. “As a complex manager, they provided me with the core materials necessary to be an effective leader. My promotion to general manager was a testament to my willingness to learn and grow in the hospitality industry.”
Green oversaw a $3 million total renovation project for his property, which has been honored multiple times with Navy Lodging’s 5-Star Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt Award for Excellence.
The AHLEI education provided me a greater understanding and respect for customer’s needs, wants, and expectations.
“The AHLEI education provided me a greater understanding and respect for customer’s needs, wants, and expectations. It has absolutely provided me the confidence in my knowledge and a solid foundation of hospitality management,” said Green.
Christine Saldanha, executive housekeeper at the Crowne Plaza Hotel & Resorts, Dubai, UAE, decided to take AHLEI’s hospitality management courses through to enhance her knowledge and achieve career growth, while boosting her professional confidence.
“In-depth knowledge of all operational departments has enabled me to effectively participate in hotel strategy and goal setting meetings,” she said. “It has helped improve my leadership competencies and effectively communicate my ideas for the hotel.”
Some of those ideas have included a “reward and recognition” program for team members that raised employee satisfaction scores; revised departmental disciplinary action procedures; and encouraging the property’s participation in several “green” and sustainability programs locally. Saldanha also encourages employees at her property and other area hotels to enroll in AHLEI’s Distance Learning courses and mentors them through the e-learning process.
AHLEI gives us all the necessary tools we need for a better future, or simply to pursue a new beginning as we embark on our unique career paths.
“Education is the key to the future and the process of learning never ends. Today, I feel empowered and energized to fulfill my personal and professional goals and progress towards a brighter future,” said Saldanha. “AHLEI gives us all the necessary tools we need for a better future, or simply to pursue a new beginning as we embark on our unique career paths.”