La Clef de Barcelone, this astonishing city of a thousand colors, that never sleeps? All you have to do is ask Emilie Ehrmann Fletcher, a Vatel 2010 graduate, if you want to make the most of your visit to the Catalan capital! After having spent five years in very different jobs in the most beautiful hotels in the city, at just the age of 25, Emilie has become an entrepreneur, creating her own special events agency. And she’ll now unlock the door and tell us her story.
So how did you come to Barcelona after you finished Vatel?
When I was doing my last year, I started working both at the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome Hotel - where I did my first internship - and at the same time for Potel et Chabot, so that I would be able to continue to learn more about reception arts required in special events management. At the same time I kept my eye on job offers in and around Paris, and quickly wanted to start looking abroad. I sent an application to the Hotel Arts Ritz Carlton in Barcelona, where I had done my Vatel second year internship. Less than a month later, I began working in the hotel restaurant and bar.
Two months after I arrived, I was promoted as the Assistant Restaurant Manager, where 550 meals per day were served. And then two months later, I climbed another rung on the ladder, becoming the “Banquet Captain.” And that’s where I was able to supervise the greatest events from A to Z, with up to 3,500 people attending: weddings, baptisms, meetings, cocktails, tournaments, off site meetings, etc. I learned a lot doing this, but I wanted to have another type of challenge with it.
And then I had the opportunity of being responsible for the creation and promotion of a brand new restaurant that the hotel’s former Assistant General Manager was setting up. I started working at the Lata-Bern@, which was still being built, and they gave me a ‘carte blanche.’ Whether it was to select menus, the wine list, dishes and glasses, furniture and decoration without forgetting to work on strategic communication, management, promotion and recruitment, etc. I was in charge of everything! A year later, the restaurant was doing well, its client bases were both new ones and repeat customers, it was recognized by the press as well as by other professionals; we had succeeded in creating a viable product. So it was time for me to move on in my personal and professional development.
I started looking for another job, because I had met the goal I’d set for myself. Right at the same time I started being “hunted” by recruitment officers, who had read my profile on professional social networks. And one of the offers caught my eye: Operations Manager in a hotel and restaurant recruitment agency. I would be in charge of recruitment, training, special events follow-up and customer relations.
I only stayed in this job for a few months, because it wasn’t what I had expected, in spite of the interesting events that I managed such s the Mobil World Congress 2014 and the Referendum du Futbol Club Barcelona where I had to supervise the waiters for these two events with nearly 7,000 attendees!
After that I started working with the R&B employees in the Grand Hotel La Florida, a five-star hotel and member of the prestigious Leading Hotels of the World as the F&B Supervisor. Another experience that really differed from what I had done previously, but one that continued my professional project that I had decided on long ago.
Today I feel that I’m completely ready to be considered as legitimate for the local profession and to become my own boss. This is why I decided to create my own special events management agency that I named the Clef de Barcelone, where I will be the preferred contact person for my clients in order to propose to them, according to their needs, all the incredible resources this city can offer.
What do you like the best about this career that you built step by step?
A lot of things: I’m never bored, I meet people from different walks of life and I have fun every day! Jobs concerning the arts required for receptions are very motivating and satisfying. You have to give yourself 100% so that your events will be perfect, and when they’re finished you’ll really feel great.
Do you think that Vatel took part in realizing your human potential?
Vatel made me a true professional even before I started looking for a job. I didn’t need time to get used to the realities in the workplace like those who attended other schools do. When an employee is efficient and ready to manage teams as of his or her very first day, that’s something that all recruitment officers appreciate!
I remember my first day at Vatel in the Paris restaurant, with real customers: we quickly assume the role that is ours and we’re really receptive to advice from second year students who were in our shoes just a year before and who just got back from doing four-month internships. And I also remember when I returned from my second year foreign internship and where we all shared the experiences we had with our classmates. I think that just in our class, students went to every continent and did every job in our field! I told them about what I experienced in Spanish hotel management: a type of close proximity management with a lot less hierarchal levels and one that was based more on a trusting relationship where a family-type spirit is also very important.
Do you have any advice to give to future Vateliens?
What I remember about my personal experience is that I was able to learn something new in each job. You have to know how to shine, wherever you are, and shine for everyone you meet. People have to remember you, your effectiveness and how friendly you are. And this is true whether you are an intern or an employee! If you rise to this challenge, doors will open for you, all around the globe, in all types of jobs and you’ll be able to choose the one you want!