Inmaculada Muñoz is a 2013 Alumna of Les Roches Marbella’s Postgraduate Diploma in International Hotel Management. As a General Manager with Iberostar Hotels & Resorts, Inmaculada’s career success in hospitality management since graduating is to be admired by those aspiring to take a similar path. We had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Muñoz to hear her insights and experiences at the top of the hotel management profession.
How did your training in Les Roches Marbella influence your decision to stay in the city for the first years after graduation?
Marbella is a destination of reference when we talk about tourism. To be trained there is to experience the hospitality industry in all its aspects (beach, luxury, golf, dining, etc.) It really is a paradise and the most important enclave on the Costa del Sol. Indeed, studying at Les Roches allowed me to get to know Marbella. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to stay there to work as a GM at the Iberostar Coral Beach before eventually moving onto Mallorca where I am currently the General Manager of Iberostar’s Grand Portals Nous. To be honest, I still consider Marbella to be one of the best places I’ve lived and where I trained as a professional.
In your case, you decided on a postgraduate degree in Hotel Management, what were the reasons that led you to choose this degree?
I studied at the University of Huelva with a degree in Business Administration and after a few years working in Ireland, the USA and Austria, I decided that I wanted to go into Hotel Management. It was clear from the outset that the postgraduate program in International Hotel Management offered by Les Roches would be perfect for me, both for its reputation and its high degree of employability. I decided on the program, betting on fast, intense training and the possibility of finding a good job right away. The postgraduate program definitely prepared me with the necessary skills to live up to the opportunities that arose later.
You graduated in 2013, what points would you highlight from your professional career since you graduated from Les Roches Marbella’s graduate school?
I would highlight the passion and desire to always be the best I can each day. For me, hotel management is a vocation that, despite requiring some sacrifice, is a very rewarding profession. In just 5 years I have been a GM in three different hotels of the Iberostar chain. This opportunity has allowed me to grow a great deal professionally.
Has Les Roches stood by you during your professional development?
Without a doubt. Les Roches has been with me at all times and in all my destinations since I finished my internship until I was made Assitant General Manager and then General Manager. The school has always provided advice and support while also giving me the opportunity to share my experience with other recent graduates or serving as a liaison to recruit new students in our chain’s hotels.
Training at Les Roches not only focuses on theoretical aspects, what would you emphasize from the practical side of the school’s curriculum?
Practical training is one of the strengths of Les Roches. The reality of a job will always be different from what you experience in school, but I think the training at Les Roches is as close as you can get to the real-world. Certain skills, like how to clean a room, hold a tray or serve wine, are at the very foundation of a hospitality career. This practical aspect gives you an in-depth overview of the operation of a hotel.
As a professional, what are the two traits that graduates trained in Les Roches tend to share?
Mobility, the fact of turning any part of the world into their home is a major advantage. Also, Les Roches graduates have that flexibility, that willingness to change if doing so allows them to grow professionally. These traits open the doors to many opportunities in hospitality.
What has been the subject that you consider most useful in your training?
During my professional career, I have always found myself returning to the subject of Facilities Management with Mr. Ojeda”. The course gave us a really thorough look into the facilities that keep hotels working everyday. From water supplies and air conditioning to safety systems and garbage removal, when you are responsible for a department or hotel operation, knowing these systems even at a general level, is vital for making decisions.
The Les Roches brand is recognized internationally as a leading school of hospitality management, how has this influenced your career?
The recognition of Les Roches at the international level gives students the confidence they need knowing that companies value the school. Companies trust Les Roches graduates and this allows many more doors to open than studying in other schools.
The glass ceiling is a fact that occurs in all sectors. in Tourism. How do you fight against it and do you think that with your training you can make progress in “destroying” this barrier?
Unfortunately, this glass ceiling still exists in many sectors, where motherhood seems to be incompatible with professional growth. Therefore, we must continue to raise awareness and continue to fight for equal opportunities. Of course, education is the key to facing situations of inequality and fortunately, today there are more and more women leading the hotel industry. The fact of having specialized training and know-how is an advantage that helps you reach your goals.
What would you say to a student who seeks to specialize in a graduate degree like yours? How would you recommend it?
I would say that I do not imagine a better option to specialize in hospitality. This is a field that is experiencing constant evolution and growth. Once at school, I would recommend that you take advantage of every moment, that you learn from the experience of the teachers, that you also enjoy Marbella and the different cultures that you will find on campus.
How would you highlight the uniqueness of knowing alumni from all over the world? How do you think these international contacts help with subsequent employability?
In Les Roches you learn to interact with other cultures, to work with them, to know their customs, and this brings incalculable value at a cultural level both personally and professionally. On the other hand, and with the passage of time, you find a network of contacts of friends and colleagues, where possibly many of them have grown in their companies and are also holding positions of responsibility. Therefore, there is not only a cultural advantage, but also an aid that opens opportunities on an employability level.
What is your most positive memory of your time at Les Roches Marbella?
I would highlight the fact of really “enjoying” that period of my life. That is to say, my greatest positive memory of Les Roches was the balance I found where, on the one hand, you work hard, you study many hours, and you surpass yourself every day. But on the other hand, you enjoy school, the classes, the teachers, the friendships, and the uniqueness of learning in an international environment.