NEW JOBS FOR VATELIENS: In June, 2015, right after 6 years in the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, Guillaume was hired as the Radisson Blu Hotel Nice Director of Operations. Coming soon: his new interview.
In 2010, just five years after he graduated, Guillaume Verchere was appointed Financial Controller for all the Rezidor Group hotels in Benelux. Since June, 2012, he has also been in charge of 20 three to five-star hotels in the North of France.
What is your current position?
Since January, 2010, I have been the Benelux Regional Financial Controller for the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. In 2012, the group offered me the opportunity of taking on the additional responsibility of hotels in Northern France (Paris, Marne-La-Vallée, Roissy, Lille and Nantes), so I am now the Benelux & North of France Financial Controller for 20 three to five-star hotels in Belgium (Park Inn by Radisson and Radisson Blu), the Netherlands and Paris. Three more will be opened at the end of 2012 / beginning of 2013 in Lille, Nantes and Amsterdam. My office is currently located in Brussels.
What did you do before attending Vatel?
Before starting Vatel, I did a general high school diploma. I went to the Champagant High School in St. Symphorien sur Croise, and did general studies in my first years to try to have a major in math. However, two years before graduating, I already knew that I wanted to attend Vatel and that I was interested in management. So in spite of the fact that both my teachers and my parents didn’t approve of my choice, I majored in tertiary economics my last two years in order to be able to continue courses in accounting and management. Right after I graduated from high school, I enrolled in Vatel in Lyon. And I never regretted this choice!
I love this job and it’s a field I’ve always been interested in because of the contact you have with your guests as well as the many multicultural contacts this field offers. It’s a sector in which we provide a service that includes moments of exchange and pleasure. Today, I’m not on the front line as much, but on a higher level I’m responsible for customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, as well as reporting to owners and shareholders. Vatel was able to give me specialized courses in this field as well as professional experience in hotel management. In addition, our School has a great reputation. I would encourage students to continue their education with a Postgraduate Degree, as this last year in Vatel in Lyon was completely different from the first three years: much more work to do, but so many more skills and experiences acquired.
What do you remember the most about when you attended Vatel? A story to tell?
Above all, my years at Vatel brought me a lot of things from a personal point of view; I met my very best friends here and I forged my “challenger” character. Personally speaking, this was fantastic, but I also met many great people on a professional level: professors who loved and knew how to teach us their job and convey their passion (Mr. Aries, Mrs. Morel, Mrs. Deniaux, Mrs. Luxton and Chefs Bonnet and Peyramaure) as well as professionals in the hospitality industry in the framework of my various internships. I’ve got loads of anecdotes to share because of all the internships I did, but that would take too much time. These practical application internships teach you a lot, even if they are sometimes hard, when they are finished, you realize how much your have learned and grown.
Could you tell us about something that was done or said while you were attending Vatel (either in your theoretical and practical courses or during an internship) that still influences you today in your professional life?
Of course, I’ve got many memories from attending school that still influence me today in my work. But above all, it was meeting great people and being motivated that allowed me (and this is still true) to continue progressing in my career. People I knew always believed in me. Mrs. Sebban was the first person who made me realize that this field was made for someone like myself: Beginning of 2001 (+/-May) the Vatel Lyon entrance exam with the test day that would end with an interview with Mrs. Sebban and my parents.
I clearly remember this interview because it was the first time I had spoken with Mrs. Sebban, for whom I already had a lot of respect and I knew that her point of view and experience could be really helpful to me. This interview focused on the results of the psychological test I had taken earlier in the day. My parents and I were surprised that these personality traits the test pointed out were completely exact and corresponded perfectly to me. Mrs. Sebban added that she had no doubts whatsoever that I would succeed in this profession and that she believed in me. That was really important and triggered my motivation to succeed in this field. Because even though I had been sure of my choice in hospitality and had already decided two years ago to enroll in Vatel and not in another school, I didn’t have any friends or family members working in hospitality and this was a field that I didn’t know a thing about.
What have you done since you graduated? What opportunities have you had?
- October 2004, after my last Bachelor’s degree internship, that I did in accounting in the Radisson SAS Royal Hotel in Brussels, the Finance department manager (also the Benelux Regional manager at that time), Catherine Bauer, offered to hire me in the accounting department. And as I wanted to continue with my Postgraduate Degree, I turned this down, but told her I’d be back next year. As promised, Catherine contacted me the following year and repeated her offer that I, of course, accepted. So in June, 2005, I started my first day of work at the Radisson SAS Royal Hotel in the accounts payable department.
- September 2005, only three months after I had started, I was elected “Employee of the Month” by hotel senior management.
- August 2006, Catherine left the Radisson SAS Royal a few months earlier to launch the group’s second hotel in Brussels, the Radisson SAS EU Hotel, in the heart of the European district. Catherine opened the hotel as the Finance Manager, as well as having Regional responsibilities. A few months later, her assistant at that time was promoted to the Finance Manager position and they offered me the job as Assistant Financial Controller at the Radisson SAS EU Hotel in Brussels.
- June 2007, the Radisson SAS Royal Hotel called me to offer me the job as Assistant Financial Controller. After having spent a few months at the EU Hotel, I had already rolled out several tools I studies in my Graduate Degree (auditing, dashboards, menu engineering, etc.), I wanted to meet a new challenge and become a part of a larger team (10 members instead of 4 in the EU). End of June, 2007, the Financial Controller of the Radisson SAS Royal Hotel stepped down and I thus found myself an Assistant without a Financial Controller, leading a team of eight for a few months (until October, 2007).
- December 2007, I was elected by the entire Radisson SAS Royal Hotel workforce (headcount of 145) as “Employee of the Year” and won a fantastic trip to New York.
- April 2008, the hotel’s General Manager was not satisfied with the work done by the Financial Controller since he arrived six months earlier, and his probationary contract was not renewed. He offered me the job, which I, of course, accepted.
- July 2008, while taking part in an internal contest at Rezidor, I won a scholarship to take a course at Cornell University: “Managing People: Essential Skills for Leadership”. I learned a lot in this course and apply the key ideas when I manage my team. For me, the most important thing is: Leadership by example!
- September 2009, the EU Hotel Financial Controller left and I was asked to take on the responsibility of the two Brussels hotels and thus was appointed City Financial Controller Brussels.
- January 2010, after having spent nearly a year without a Regional Financial Controller for Benelux, the group asked me to add the responsibility of the Financial Controller for the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel in Brussels to my job.
- November, 2010, a few months earlier Vatel in Lyon had invited me to participate with the School for one of the three new “Hospitality Awards” created for the first time for international hotel management and tourism schools. In the finale, with two candidates including a Vatel alumnus in Bangkok, I won the “Hospitality Award” for the “Best Professional Success.”
Guillaume Verchere received the Worldwide Hospitality Award from Yann Caillere, the Deputy General Manager in charge of the Accor group Worldwide Operations, in the presence of Karine Benzazon, Vatel in Lyon and Nimes General Manager.
- June 2012, the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group proposed an additional responsibility of taking charge of the hotels in the North of France (Paris, Marne-la-Vallée, Roissy, Lille and Nantes), and I was thus appointed Regional Financial Controller Benelux & North of France.
And if you have anything else you’d like to say…
I’m always glad to share my experience with students or interns. A few weeks ago, we signed a partnership with Vatel in Brussels so that fourth year’s students could do their internship in one of our three hotels in Brussels (3*, 4* and 5*), as of next year.