A Vatel 2012 alumnus, Charles Brusson works at the Brussels Le Plaza Hotel as the Sales Executive for the French market. He himself is surprised by this when he thinks back to his first years when he was doing pharmaceutical studies and his intention of staying but a year in this hotel. “I know, but when you find yourself and you’re happy?” What else?
Tell us how you went from pharmaceutical studies to Vatel.
Well, I was hesitating between both of them after high school and after two years in pharmaceutical courses and then in business administration, I came back to the hospitality industry and that was the right choice for me. Even though it wasn’t always a bed of roses, I’d got great memories of Vatel, especially working in the restaurant at the Vatel Hotel & Spa 4*. The weeks of practical application courses that followed our lectures in the amphitheater, in my opinion, were the best things about our curriculum, as right away, they put us a step ahead of those who graduated from other hotel management schools who were applying for the same jobs.
What internships did you do when you were studying? What jobs did you have?
My first internship took place in Morzine, in the French Haute Savoie department, at the four-star Le Dahu Hotel. I’ve got great memories of this internship, thanks to the hotel’s owner and manager, who allowed me to work in every department, giving me very rounded training. In addition to that, he loved the hospitality industry and this only confirmed that Vatel was right for me.
My second internship gave me the opportunity of working in the Groups and Conventions department in the Le Plaza Hotel in Brussels. The whole team trusted me and allowed me to work in the many facets of the sales department.
Then how did opportunities begin to knock on your door?
Before my final third year exams, I hesitated between doing a Master’s and starting to work. I started off my sending a few resumes out to destinations I found attractive to test the market and see what opportunities there would be. And as I still had very good relationships with some of the Plaza staff, at the same time I asked them for advice. They offered me a job at the Front Desk, and that seemed to be an additional experience for a resume that already was full of F&B and administrative experiences.
After having worked for a year at the Front Desk, I had the opportunity of replacing one of my colleagues in the Groups and Conventions department who was on maternity leave. These six extra months allowed me to build on the knowledge I already had during the internship that I did two years before in this department. After these six months, they offered to transfer me to sales.
I’m in charge of the French market and visit potential customers, am responsible for customer relationships, follow-up between special events agencies, customers, direct suppliers and the hotel. This sales aspect also allows me to work in the leisure department, in special events as well as preparing the rooms for the seminars.
What advice could you give to the next generation of students who would like to work in Belgium?
Brussels is one of the top events destinations in the world, and has lots of job opportunities and you can quickly be promoted in this field. And Belgians are very friendly people and Brussels has a great quality of life. The only negative aspect, for those who come from the south, remains the rain, which you sometimes get tired of!
What are your upcoming projects?
I had never thought that I’d be working in the sales department in a hotel. Nor thinking that I’d still be in the Plaza as I had given myself a year and a half before finding another job. So I’m just continuing to progress, always looking for new opportunities.