Clàudia Cots is an alumni from the Master in Tourism & Hospitality Management in EADA Business School. Her willingness to develop a career in Hospitality despite hard times for the sector due to the coronavirus outbreak, brought her to Zanzibar to do her Master’s Internship. Clàudia is now working as an Operations Manager in Oxygen Restaurant & Lounge in Zanzibar.
What is it like to live in Zanzibar?
Life in Zanzibar is very different from Europe, here I have learnt to live with less and with lower standards of living, to appreciate common phenomena like sunrise and sunset or the power that a genuine smile has. Zanzibarian people have an intrinsic hospitality and community spirit that makes you feel life is easy and without problems. A clear example of it is their famous motto: hakuna matata which means “there is no problem”.
How did your job opportunity in Zanzibar come up?
I came to Zanzibar with an NGO to do a volunteering internship in a boutique hotel as Assistant Manager. Once in Zanzibar, I fell in love with life and the people here, and decided to look for a proper job in order to be able to stay. I must say that I was very lucky because a friend who knew about my desires insisted on introducing me to the General Manager of a well-known hotel in the area. After an interview with him, he explained that he did not need an Assistant Manager but recommended me to my present boss.
What does your typical workday look like?
Because we are not open yet, my working days have been very different according to the needs. First, I helped the General Manager to set up the culture of Oxygen Restaurant, then I developed a Social Media plan and became responsible for Social Media Management. At the same time, I managed the recruitment and selection of the Front of the House team by myself and the Kitchen staff together with the head chef. After this, my job was to prepare the service training, and at the moment I am doing the training together with the General Manager.
What are your mid-term goals?
My mid-term goals are first: to gain experience in food & beverage operations in a small-medium size hotel, what I am doing at the moment; and second, to do cross-training in the rooms department in a small-medium size hotel to gain an overall vision of the main departments in hospitality.
What is it like to work in the hospitality industry during a global pandemic?
First of all, I would say that I am very proud to be able to work in the hospitality industry during a global pandemic. It is hard, because the conditions (salary, benefits, and living standards) are not what I was expecting when I started the master, but being able to develop a career in the sector I am passionate about is priceless. At the same time, I need to recognize that it is very uncertain, too. We don’t know how Covid-19 and its variants will evolve, and how governments will react with more or less restrictive measures. Nevertheless, here in Zanzibar, there are no types of restrictive measures, so at the end, one tends to forget that we are in a global pandemic.
How has the Master prepared you for your job?
The Master gave me a global vision of the different departments that you can find in hospitality, and honestly I am applying what I learnt in some modules. For example, I have checked material shared in the Strategic People & Organization Management module in order to carry out the Recruitment and Selection process here in Oxygen Restaurant. Besides, and maybe the most important thing, I feel the Master helped me to develop intrapersonal skills to become a leader in an international team.
What did you enjoy the most about the Master in Tourism & Hospitality Management?
Definitely, what I enjoyed the most was the Collbató experience. Being able to share with my classmates and other International Masters two days of academic lessons, meals and leisure time really brought us together a lot. Besides, the lessons combined theory with practical and challenging indoor and outdoor exercises that helped all of us to push our limits and go beyond our comfort zone.
What are the highlights of your experience at EADA?
EADA represented a turning point in my life because apart from the purely academic content of the hospitality sector, I learnt to work in international teams, which include managing the conflicts that sooner or later arise inside them; and most importantly, I developed a self confidence that I didn’t have before.
What advice would you give to future EADA students of the Master in Tourism & Hospitality Management?
I would tell them not to be scared of following their dreams, because even with the global pandemic, travelling is an intrinsic desire of people. There are countries around the world where tourism is the only source of income, and they are nowadays very open to tourism, with hotels operating at occupancy levels very similar to previous years. As long as you have passion, determination and flexibility, if you actively look for opportunities, one of them will end up coming true.