A bit over a year ago, Lucas Perelstein, a Vatel 2012 alumnus, told us about the year he had spent in the Sheraton Tianjin***** Hotel, as the Guest Relations Officer. Now it’s time to update this information, as Lucas is currently in England working as the Cluster Human Resources Administrator at Hilton Worldwide. It’s hard keeping up with our Vateliens. Their careers change at such a quick pace!
Breaking news: Lucas’ Human Resources department was chosen as the ‘Best Team Department in Hilton Worldwide’ for the past year, winning over 12 teams in the competition.
Lucas, can you tell us again about what you did at the Sheraton Tianjin?
- Anticipating and assisting hotel guests as needed so their stay in the hotel is a pleasant one without any problems whatsoever,
- Promoting the hotel and presenting the facilities to guests so their stay will be a memorable one,
- Listening to customer complaints, managing and solving them,
- Communicating with the other departments and team members to continuously improve our guest services,
- Having a seamless check in / check out experience,
- Being the hotel’s ambassador and taking part in continuously improving our guest experience throughout their entire stay and even after it,
- Managing elite member’s arrivals with the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) loyalty program as well as VIPs.
“France and China are both very competitive countries, and a large capacity to adapt is required every day. Chinese management is quite different from French managerial techniques: employees have much more independence as soon as they are trained and managerial follow-up is much more indirect.”
And then if we go back even farther, tell us about what you did before attending Vatel and when studying.
When I understood that the Marco Polo program would allow me to do my second year on another Vatel Campus, with the same courses, that was the deal-clincher in my choice of a school for my college education. So then after my first year internship at the Front Desk at the Hotel Le Roi Theodore 4* in Porto-Vecchio, I took off for Quebec to do my second Vatel year in Vatel Montreal. I mixed theoretical courses with practical application work at the InterContinental de Montreal. After that, I decided to do my second year internship in the Human Resources department of the Four Seasons Whistler Resort, the only 5 Diamond AAA Resort, all categories put together.
One thing I really remember is being praised by the General Manager in a speech where all employees were present to receive the welcome kit that I had put together, including a letter, brochures and a video, with the aim of welcoming new employees to the hotel.
Guest Relations in China and now Human Resources in England. How did this opportunity come about?
This final internship in Canada sparked a real interest for HR, but I wanted to gain more skills in other departments and discover the Asian style of management. So as my Chinese mission was winding up, and with my additional managerial and cross-cultural skills, I applied to HR jobs. I was immediately contacted by Hilton UK and went to London to meet the Regional Manager and the Operations Manager for an HR position. Because of my international experience, the logical progression in my resume and Vatel’s fantastic reputation, I was immediately hired.
What does your current job consist in?
I’m in charge of the “M25 &NE” region - I know, I feel like James Bond here, - made up of 660 employees spread over 8 hotels and 4 brands (Hilton, Double Tree, Hampton by Hilton and Hilton Garden Inn, located in Cambridge, Watford, Luton, London Stansted, Maidstone, Dartfod and Milton Keynes.
My job consists in:
- supporting and advising the 660 employees of the 8 hotels in the region,
- drawing up and analyzing RH reports with information on employee trends (absences, hours worked, disciplinary procedures, employee turnover, etc.),
- internal and external benchmarking,
- setting up disciplinary surveys and advising the team manager in HR policies in the company, and last of all,
- writing contacts, managing terminations and the payroll.
You spoke about the Asian way of management; what can you tell us about the English way of management?
English management is a bit different from French management. Even though the hierarchical order is always respected, each employee plays an important role, and this is what we want him or her to feel. Employees are quickly empowered to take part in a decision-making process, whether it concerns their department or not. Moreover, the decision-making process, as it includes many stakeholders, can thus take quite a long time. So this is something that taught me how to be patient.
From another point of view, British people find it difficult to directly manage teams and often give indirect instructions, preferring to ask for help, rather than being explicit. That can be quite disconcerting when you’re not used to this type of management, because it’s quite a bit harder to decide on the priority of the task.
Any other countries on your mind for the upcoming years?
I hope to continue progressing in my current functions here in England or in another country, or why not, on another continent.