PIHMS Alumni Spotlight – Adam Berman

26 November 2023

Reflecting on your time at PIHMS, what experiences or lessons had the most significant impact on your career journey?

Looking back at my time at PIHMS, I can say that some aspects of the school have helped me on my career journey. I highly appreciate the hands-on operational training I received at PIHMS. This training not only enabled me to translate theory into practical skills but also provided me with the opportunity to understand the New Zealand hotel industry. It was the preparation that allowed me to confidently step into my first role once I graduated. One invaluable lesson I’ve carried with me is to always say “YES” when opportunities arise. Whether it’s a chance to learn something new or take on a challenging project, embracing those moments has been a crucial part of my growth. One needs to keep in mind that on occasion, this may entail performing tasks that may not be your personal preference, extending your working hours, or allocating time from your weekends or personal leisure time to facilitate your growth.

“Reflecting on my time at PIHMS, the hands-on operational training was a game-changer. It helped me bridge the gap between theory and practice, giving me a deep understanding of the New Zealand hotel industry. As I graduated, I felt well-prepared to step into my first role. One invaluable lesson I’ve carried with me is to always say ‘YES’ to opportunities. It might mean taking on tasks outside your comfort zone, working extra hours, or sacrificing personal time, but it’s a key part of personal growth.”

Can you highlight the pivotal moments or key decisions in your career journey that led you to your current position or success?

I will break this down into 3 parts – the decision, the path, and make correct choices.

The decision – It was the year 1996 in Barcelona, Spain. My family and I were on vacation, staying at a local Novotel. I was still a child, and spent hours shadowing the porter at that hotel. I assisted him with guest luggage, accompanying him up and down the lift. His impeccable presentation, warm smile, and exceptional customer service left a lasting impression on me. It was during this time that I thought to myself for the very first time, “I wish I had his job.” It was a moment of clarity that instilled in me the confidence that the hospitality industry was the perfect fit for me.

The Path – From that moment onward, I devoted myself to working to achieve my goals. I quickly learned that success in this industry is a blend of both hands-on experience and education. The combination of these elements allowed me to evolve and grow. One principle that has been a guiding force in my journey is the commitment to never stop learning. I’ve found that being open to new opportunities and challenges is essential. Whether it’s embracing a chance to acquire new skills or taking on a complex project, and as mentioned previously, saying “YES” has played a pivotal role in my personal and professional development.

Make correct choices – Remember that not every job offer aligns with your career goals. Some opportunities won’t lead you where you truly want to be. Instead of fixating on immediate financial gain, prioritize personal and professional growth. This mind-set is key to advancement. If you’re tempted by a job offer that offers an extra $2 an hour in salary at a competitor hotel, solely due to the higher pay, you might not be considering the bigger picture for your career. In the hospitality industry, success is based on passion and dedication, not just monetary rewards. While your income will naturally increase with experience and growth, if money is your sole driving force, it may be worth reconsidering whether this is the right industry for you.

What advice would you give to current students who aspire to follow a similar career path?

My advice is simple: Patience and commitment: Understand that it takes time to become a proficient General Manager in the hospitality industry. To truly excel, you must soak yourself in every aspect of the hotel environment. A successful GM is one who knows every angle and aspect of the operation. Start by moving through various departments – from Food and Beverage to Front Office, Housekeeping, and Reservations. This not only broadens your understanding but also equips you to train and perform every role when necessary.

Dive into the Details: Ideally, spend some time working in the kitchen as well. Get to know the culinary environment and build relationships with the chefs. Know your team, their situation and their concerns. Handle matters before they reach your desk, always anticipate the next step. Raise questions about everything, while also acknowledging that others may offer better solutions then the ones you are thinking of. Surround yourself with a team capable of expanding their responsibilities. In essence, delegate tasks and provide oversight as necessary.

Organise and Plan: Be highly organized. A good GM is one who has a well-thought-out plan for everything. However, in the dynamic world of hospitality, you must also be spontaneous and capable of making clear and quick decisions when required. Striking the right balance between structure and adaptability is key.

Finance and Revenue Management: Invest time in understanding the financial aspect of the business. Learn about accounting, cash flows, and revenue management. These are essential skills for anyone looking to progress to higher management.

Continuous Learning: Don’t hesitate to express your interest in learning more, even during your free time. If there are opportunities to cross-train or take on additional responsibilities, seize them. Sign up for all training programs offered by your company; they can provide valuable insights and skills.

Industry placement: Don’t stress too much about your  industry placement. All hotels offer valuable learning opportunities, and if you aim for senior management positions, you’ll eventually need to gain experience in various departments. So, just start somewhere and give it your all! Keep in mind that the hospitality industry is closely-knit, and your dedication will serve as a reference for your future roles.

Tell us about a project or achievement in your career that you’re particularly proud of.

I can genuinely say that one thing I will forever take pride in is my time as a lecturer at PIHMS. Shaping the mind-set of young students and sharing the knowledge was essential for their growth in the hospitality industry. For me, PIHMS was more than just a job; it became a way of life. Each day spent with my students was a source of joy, and I continue to track their career journeys as they advance. Witnessing their growth, successes, and occasionally meeting them at industry events is always great.

How has PIHMS continued to impact your life and career beyond graduation?

The networking among PIHMS Alumni is pretty amazing. It is a community that spans the whole country. You can’t travel far without bumping into PIHMS Alumni who are out there, running the show, and pushing the hospitality industry forward. It’s like we’re all in this together, making things happen.

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