The Swiss Hotel School 2018 Graduate, Darshan Pillay

The Swiss Hotel School 2017 Graduate, Gareth Kunz
6th April 2020
The Swiss Hotel School 2015 Graduate, Beula Somers
30th April 2020

At the tender age of 7, I’d already set my mind on the hospitality industry, this headstrong mindset made me one of the few lucky matriculants to write finals without the strain of choosing from a selection of hastily picked career possibilities. Whilst my classmates and I celebrated the end of the first chapter of our lives in 2015, I was eager to get the second started as soon as possible. A week after my final matric examination, I arranged an apprenticeship at the Hilton Hotel in Sandton where I would spend my final school holiday absorbing as much as I could before the start of my much-anticipated journey at the Swiss Hotel School.

The schools “Recipe for success” can be translated through their harmonic balance of practical and theoretical curriculum, coupled perfectly with passionate industry experienced lecturers, resulting in a healthy yet challenging learning environment. This “recipe” empowered me to face challenges with a sense of level-headed confidence. Accompanying that, my lecturers’ meticulous focus on detail; emphasis of efficient teamwork and the importance of soft skill development have been engrained in my DNA after my three years at SHS.

The Schools’ teaching techniques prove testament to the adage; diamonds are made under pressure.

From my four industry training internships, the most memorable and emotionally demanding had to be my first experience abroad, I was allowed to work as a Food and Beverage Management Intern at The Westin & Le Meridian hotels by Marriott in Dubai, an opportunity too good to refuse.

Throughout the internship, I worked with multiple signature restaurant managers, allowing me to experience various principals for a successful operation. The experience made me emotionally stronger, as it was fast-paced and very demanding, not to mention HOT.

By the end of my internship, I noticed a change in myself; I was no longer the reserved and scared individual I once was. Once this happened, I started to see more opportunities that the dynamic industry had to offer, and the world had become my oyster.

There was only one problem, over the three years, I absorbed so much, that I became overwhelmed by the array of opportunities the industry had to offer. After some consideration, I decided to further my studies at the University of Johannesburg; this would allow me ample time to fathom out what I loved most about the industry and try to find a mentor willing to teach me (blatant irony coming from a boy who “always knew what he wanted to do from the age of 7.” if you ask me).

Whilst gathering research for my dissertation, I wouldn’t forget to visit local restaurants, cafes, and hotels to do some networking.
By the end of October 2019, I completed my dissertation: “Exploring Sustainable Wine Packaging Methods in South Africa”, an accolade aided by the Swiss Hotel Schools time management principals. During my “Studying gap-year”, I noticed the undying love I had for art, literature, cultural interaction, food, and photography. The idea of finding an ideal mentor, however, proved harder than expected.

By December 2019, I had pleasantly received my results for my BTech Degree in Hospitality Management and was already in Search for a job that would take into account my interests. The search did not last long, with the help of my friend Bradley Terblanche, I found exactly what I was looking for, and within a blessed two weeks, I saw myself using the SHS interview techniques taught to us once again.

My current manager and mentor, Ohad Cohen, offered me a position as a front desk associate, at one of Marriott International’s busiest business hotels in Sandton CBD. Our 300 room hotel accommodates 3 different international airline crew members and 2 cargo airline crew members, keeping us on our toes every day of the week. My team members are extremely warm people and have become my family during the short time we have spent together thus far.

The position is flexible enough to accommodate my interest at becoming a proficient food stylist as it gives me enough time to snap, research and write about the food I prepare. Whilst also allowing me to climb the corporate ladder.

Although my career has only begun, I cannot express a deeper sense of gratitude to all my lecturers from SHS for all the advice and support you’ll have given to us.

I’d like to think of success as synonymous with life. Much like life, success is a journey with no real destination, yet requests preparation. All we have to show for it is the lessons learnt, memories made, and milestones conquered. Thanks once again to the Swiss Hotel School, for making the journey far less bumpy and way more enjoyable.