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Let’s Talk Talent – Get to know Chiara Segmüller

We are delighted to introduce you to Chiara Segmüller, currently a student at Schweizerische Hotelfachschule Luzern (SHL) school in Switzerland and our newest representative of the HSMAI Europe Student Council.

Make sure to attend the upcoming student conference “Hospitality Unlocked” at SHL in Luzern and meet Chiara in person on 23rd May 2023!

“Through the HSMAI Europe Student Council, I have the opportunity to participate, to influence and to contribute my perspective on the hospitality industry. I look forward to making a positive difference to the future of our industry.” 

– Chiara Segmüller, HSMAI Europe Student Council member

Q. Why did you choose to study Hospitality Management?

My relation to hospitality started at an early age when my grandmother used to run a restaurant. My uncle continued her legacy and today runs several restaurants in Zurich. I had the pleasure back then to spend time and observe how entertaining and passionate the interaction between the employees and guests were. Since that time I never imagined doing something different than that. Therefore at the age of 16 I decided to do a commercial apprenticeship in a luxury hotel in Zurich. That was the best decision I could have made. This education has not only shown me what opportunities the hospitality industry offers , but has also opened me all doors for a great future career. After my apprenticeship I had various jobs in Switzerland as well as abroad. My drive to enrich my knowledge, skills and provide me even better future opportunities, made me decide to start studying in a hotel Management school.

Q. Why are you passionate about hospitality? What makes this industry unique?

This industry gives me a unique feeling that I will never have in any other job. It fills me with adrenaline, energy and happiness. On one hand, it gives me an enormous amount of pleasure to do something good for someone, to bring joy, to create an experience which will become a lasting memory. There is nothing better for me than when the guest leaves the hotel or restaurant and expresses his/her appreciation for the great service. On the other hand I also enjoy the stressful situations that sometimes seem unsolvable. The challenging guest that is high demanding. I love making the impossible possible.

Q. What are the biggest challenges as a student in hospitality?

Being a student in the hospitality industry has its challenges. One challenge is the amount of lessons that are taught and the amount of time available per semester are sometimes disproportionate. This is however a good preparation for the real working life because as managers we need to be able to handle stressful situations and manage our time the best way possible. Another challenge that especially students with non or little experience are facing is finding an internship. Hotels do not want to invest time and money on rookies, they rather prefer more experienced professionals.

Q. The hospitality industry – as many others – faces the challenge of attracting and retaining talent. Do you have any thoughts on this that you would like to share with us?

It’s extremely hard nowadays to find passionate people within our industry. This became a global issue, hotels worldwide aren’t able to fill their vacancies and end up hiring inexperienced and/or inappropriate employees for this industry. This phenomenon started occurring during the pandemic, when hotels had to shut down and the hospitality professionals were therefore obliged to change field/industry.

Finding the right people is hard and retaining them is even harder. Hospitality professionals which have the ambitious need to feel valued and mentored by their superiors in order to grow. Due to the high demand nowadays, professionals have a variety of opportunities greater than ever before and therefore the employee turnover in hotels is enormous.

Q. Why did you decide to join the HSMAI Europe Student Council?

Through the HSMAI Europe Student Council, I not only have the opportunity to be heard, but also to effectively make a difference in this industry. I have the opportunity to participate, influence and contribute my perspective on the hospitality industry. I am convinced that the HSMAI Student Council is the best way to do this.

Q. How is HSMAI Europe Student Council helping your studies/students?

Being part of the HSMAI Europe Student Council has not only allowed me to expand my social networks, but also to interact with other students from various hospitality schools in Europe and share our ideas. HSMAI Student Council allows students to share and show our perspective to the professionals in this industry. Doing so not only we can learn from the professionals, but they can also learn from us which creates a win-win situation. Improving the industry requires a teamwork!

Q. What is your dream job when you graduate?

That’s a difficult question, which I can’t answer with 100% certainty yet. This industry is so versatile and there are many professions that interest me at the moment. For example, I would love to own my own restaurant or even a small hotel. I would find it incredibly interesting and exciting to create my own concept, build my team and simply give free rein to my ideas and implement them.

However, I would also really enjoy switching to the side of the lecturer. Bringing young people closer to this industry and teaching them as much as possible is a nice thought and a professional future I could also imagine. For now, I’m leaving all options open and looking forward to whatever comes next.

Q. Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

It makes me happy to be a part of the HSMAI Student Council and I am already excited about what we will achieve together. I am especially looking forward to making a positive difference in the future of the hospitality industry together with the other students on the council. I am convinced that thanks to HSMAI we can make a great contribution to this industry.

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