The best hotels make you feel like walking into the home of a close friend who cared and knew enough to feed, entertain and welcome just the way you like it. Attention to detail matters in hospitality and Kevin J. Abramowicz, Vice President of COMO Hotels and Resorts, knew this even as a young boy.
He was blessed to travel internationally with his parents and knew what staying in many superior hotels is like. None, however, was as inspiring as the hospitality of smaller-scale hotels or his very own family’s home.
When his grandparents hosted family gatherings and parties, they never failed to impress guests. From home decorations to garden landscaping, every intricate detail was seen to. There were immeasurable spreads of fine cuisine, where every dish was prepared from scratch. Most importantly, they took pride in being good hosts.
“It’s the passion to host with attention to detail and create memorable experiences for guests which continues to motivate me in my career, be it on the ground as a hands-on leader or now overseeing a group of hotels,” he tells Study International in an email interview.
Abramowicz would later earn a bachelor’s degree in international hospitality management at Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL), known as one of the best hospitality management schools in the world.
He then went on to join the Delamar Greenwich Harbor in Connecticut followed by the Setai on Miami Beach and then travelled to Bali to be General Manager of the Legian & The Club at The Legian Bali. There, he led the team to several hospitality awards and recognitions. Today, he is the Vice President of Operations for COMO Hotels and Resorts. Below we talk to him about his EHL experience and what they brought to the table:
Tell us more about your career with COMO Hotels and Resorts since graduating from EHL.
Since graduating from EHL, I had the privilege of receiving varied exposures and experiences in the US and Indonesia. This helped me assimilate into my role as the Regional General Manager in Thailand and Bhutan when I first joined COMO Hotels and Resorts.
I love taking on new challenges that come with a new role. It offers an opportunity to showcase my ability, gain new experiences and I am determined to do my job well. I suppose when one is able to prove their capabilities, the management or employer will have the confidence to entrust you with more.
How do you use the knowledge and skills gained in your course now?
An EHL education not only equips you with key quantitative skills for a career in the hospitality industry (like the science of managing business operations and ensuring sustainability) but also qualitative elements. Not to mention soft skills like communication and leadership through language and culture learning to deliver the art of hospitality.
These soft skills are a necessary asset for each and every person working in the hospitality industry. Soft skills are viewed as character traits or interpersonal aptitudes that affect one’s ability to work and interact with others.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen that soft skills have been integral to the success of a company or an individual. Traits such as resilience, empathy, communication and adaptability have become increasingly important.
At EHL, these soft skills are taught through a mixture of experiential and pedagogical techniques which include things like relationship management, cultural agility, emotional intelligence and self-awareness. All of these are needed in both a business and social environment because they are transferable from situation to situation and industry to industry.
Do you get to apply the practical elements and theories you gained during your studies in your current job role?
As part of the preparatory year at EHL, all students undergo hands-on training to develop hospitality know-how. Taught by professors and industry experts, students learn practical elements through a variety of different courses such as stewarding, oenology (the study of wines), cooking, service and pastry-making to learn applied hospitality skills.
At the EHL Lausanne campus, students have the ability to learn these skills inside or outside the classroom. One of the places was Berceau des Sens, EHL’s Michelin-starred student training restaurant along with other workshops in housekeeping, mixology and front-of-house.
I still apply skills I learnt from these classes into my role at COMO Hotels and Resorts by drawing on the knowledge and experience from all different areas to appeal to our guests. Two internships are an integral part of the curriculum and students are encouraged to trail six months in operations and administration.
This is so you can understand and experience the ins and outs of the hospitality industry. Those internships provide real time learning experiences working under pressure within a diverse team of skilled professionals. In my view, a vital experience defines the path one will take after graduation.
What skills or knowledge do you wish you had learned more of during your studies?
Today, I would say digital marketing and social media (which at the time was in its early stages of formation) because it’s now one of the most powerful and essential tools for any business.
Why did you decide to get a Hotel Real Estate Investments and Asset Management Certificate from Cornell University in 2019?
Mainly with the intention to supplement my knowledge and improve my understanding about shareholders and their interest in the industry, particularly hotel real estate investment and asset management. Having worked mostly for management companies, I find it crucial to understand the objectives of your counterparts to create a win-win for all parties.
What advice do you have for international students planning to pursue a career in hospitality?
For those considering a career in hospitality, furthering your education will give you the best insights and experience. Being one of the best in hospitality management, EHL gives you a chance to step up in your career in this field in hospitality and beyond.
For those looking to study in Singapore, the newly launched EHL campus (Singapore) offers you the prestigious bachelor’s degree in international hospitality management, an EMBA and a range of short courses for professionals to upskill. The curriculum and learning outcomes are the same as Switzerland but topped with Asian case studies and examples to ensure relevancy.
It’s also important to realise that the hospitality industry is not all about the glitz and glam. There are numerous sacrifices you must be prepared to make and crucial to have the tenacity to persevere. The first few years of your career can be rough and there will be plenty of steep learning curves! However, with the right mindset, overcoming these challenges builds and refines your character making you a better leader in time to come.