Medna Latulipe returned to Seychelles in early July after completing hotel management studies at the Shannon College of Hotel Management in Ireland. The Seychellois graduate earned a bachelor’s degree in business studies in international hotel management and earned the college’s best academic student award, beating out 90 students in her class.
Latulipe’s success came two years after she won the President’s Cup for being the Seychelles Tourism Academy’s most outstanding graduate in hospitality management. The course entails three years of study in hospitality management after which the students move to Ireland for one year to obtain their bachelor’s degree.
Latulipe – a resident of La Misere – a district in an uphill region of west Mahé — is now job hunting. The 29-year-old mother of one talks to SNA about her chosen career path, drive to succeed and future plans.
SNA: Congratulations Medna. Firstly tell us what prompted you to study and want to take up a career in tourism?
ML: I studied tourism and tour guiding from 2004 to 2006. After that I worked at the Mauritius Commercial Bank for three years, then for one year as a debtor’s controller in the accounts department of the Constance Ephelia resort. I still had a passion for tourism although I had diverted to finance, and it was while working at Constance Ephelia that I realized how I felt relaxed and free in a hotel atmosphere. That is when I decided to go back to school to broaden my knowledge and gain new skills to work in the hospitality industry.
SNA: How would you describe your experience studying at the Seychelles Tourism Academy and the Shannon College of Hotel Management in Ireland. How are the two institutions different?
ML: I felt more at ease and it was easier to study at the Seychelles Tourism Academy, and the lecturers had more time to mentor each student, as the class was quite small. At Shannon College, the unfamiliar environment and weather, as well as a much bigger class, were some of the challenges faced by myself and [other Seychellois] colleagues. However, the quality of the courses and the professionalism of the lectures are similar. The main difference is the fact that the Seychelles Tourism Academy lacked some resources such as books while Shannon College uses technology to teach.
SNA: What would you say were the factors that made you excel in your studies both locally and in Ireland?
ML: I believe the motivation and determination which I had from day one drove me to where I am today — having an open mind and always willing to go that extra mile. I would also say it was thanks to the support, patience and devotion of lecturers at both the Seychelles Tourism Academy and Shannon College and definitely my family who believed in me and never gave up on me.
SNA: Do you have any children? If yes how hard was it studying?
ML: I have one daughter, Angelique. It was very hard, as she needs my time and attention and I was trying to do everything at once which was stressful at some point. Nevertheless, she was very understanding at her young age and I was able to find ways to keep her occupied [while I needed to study] but still find ways to spend some quality time with her.
SNA: Working in the tourism field could be quite tough as it’s not always an 8 to 4 job. Being a parent how do you plan to juggle the two?ML: It is indeed very difficult, which is the reason why I have decided to work in human resources or training to avoid the shift hours in order to spend more time with my daughter. I am however lucky to have a family who is always there for me, as juggling the two is not possible on your own.SNA: The hospitality management course was launched in 2008. Do you feel there are openings for young Seychellois management graduates to work in Seychelles’ hotels?
ML: There are some openings for Seychellois management graduates. There are past students already working as managers in some hotels. However, I believe that some hotels are still reluctant to give Seychellois graduates the opportunity to move forward and develop their potential especially in higher management positions. I would say that one can only prove him/herself performing management duties if given the fair chance to do so.
SNA: Getting Seychellois to join the tourism industry is something that we often hear is lacking what do you think are hindering people to join the trade?
ML: I would say the odd hours having to work shifts, public holidays and weekends. People need work-life balance, and employers need to understand and consider this issue. The one day off per week is also a major factor. Working in tourism can be very stressful and demanding, thus employees need enough time to relax in order to perform better in their positions.
SNA: If you had a choice between working in Seychelles or other hotels around the world would you take it?
ML: To be honest, my country gave me this opportunity to develop myself and broaden my knowledge. Thus, serving my country is a great honor.
SNA: Based on your experience would you encourage other youths or mature students to join the tourism and hospitality course offered by the Seychelles Tourism Academy?
ML: I would definitely advise interested persons, regardless of their age to undertake the course. The school provides you with a sense of discipline and helps you to find yourself while developing numerous personal and professional skills. The employees at STA also work hard and are always there to give that extra push in order for the students to succeed.
SNA: What qualities/attitudes must one have to make it in the tourism industry?
ML: The tourism industry is very complex. One needs a combination of multiple attitudes and qualities which would usually come naturally. For example, someone needs to be naturally friendly, sympathetic, have a good sense of humour and very patient. Additionally, good communication skills, attention to detail, being effective and efficient is a must in the tourism industry.
SNA: What are your future plans – How far do you want to go in your chosen field?
ML: There is no limit. The further the better. My plan is to open up a training consultancy service in Seychelles that will provide various training for hotels. Myself and two of my colleagues [from school] Catherina Meriton and Marie Bernadette Joubert have already started to draft a business plan and hopefully within the next five years we can start operating as a business. The aim is to share the skills and knowledge we have acquired to ensure that other Seychellois are well equipped to contribute to the success of the hotels they work for, and consequently to the betterment of the Seychelles economy.
Source : Seychelles News Agency