In this edition of Alumni Views we are featuring a 2008 alumnus of the Postgraduate in Hospitality Management from Ceuta, Spain, Ms. Silvia Fernandez. After unexpectedly seeing Ms. Fernandez featured in National Geographic’s documentary series, “ULTIMATE AIRPORT: DUBAI” (watch NatGeo’s video preview here), we were eager to catch up with this Les Roches Marbella alumnus to find out how she arrived to work with Emirates Airlines.
At thirty years old, Ms. Fernandez already has considerable experience in the international hospitality industry. Before beginning her postgraduate studies at Les Roches Marbella in August of 2008, she had already earned a degree in tourism and a master’s diploma in teaching/training.
She tells us that while working in both the Front Desk and Tourism Information Office for Melia Hotels in Ceuta, Spain, she discovered that her niche in the hotel industry was Human Resource Training. However, she would need some specialized training to pursue this avenue. After searching for the best school to obtain real-world management skills, she opted to study an intensive one-year Postgraduate in Hospitality Management at Les Roches Marbella.
Upon graduation she set out to pursue her interest in Human Resources by accepting a HR Training position in one of the world’s most beautiful and exotic destinations, the Zamani Zanzibar Kempinski in Tanzania. In addition to HR training in this beautiful five-star island resort, she worked as the General Manager’s Executive Assistant. What was intended to be a six month internship with Kempinski, turned into a two year tenure before she eventually returned to her home in Ceuta, in late 2010.
After returning to Ceuta, Silvia took on a position as Events Director for a local events company, Marquez & Asociados. However, her self-proclaimed “love for travel” eventually drove her to make a move to mainland Spain and back once again to Marbella. Shortly after arriving on the Costa del Sol in 2012, she decided to visit an Emirates Airlines recruiting seminar purely out of curiosity. She had no idea what would come of it, but as she says in her own words, “life, destiny, or whatever it was” led her to this meeting even though she had never before imagined becoming a cabin crew member for a major airline.
Upon beginning her training at Emirates Aviation College, little did she know that after making such an unexpected choice, she would be chosen among Emirates’ 17,000 cabin crew members worldwide to participate in National Geographic’s documentary, “Ultimate Airport: Dubai”. In the documentary, filmmakers follow Ms. Fernandez and her team as they undergo training in Emirates’ state-of-the-art crash landing simulator. Now, after having successfully completed the training, she is stationed as a cabin crew member on routes between Dubai and Europe.
When we asked her what her job entails, she candidly replied, “It’s hospitality at 30,000 feet. The difference lies in the fact that managing typical hospitality situations can be challenging sometimes at this altitude and in such a closed environment.”
Although some may believe that a Postgraduate in Hospitality Management has little to do with the airline industry, Silvia Fernandez says that “being a part of Les Roches Marbella gave me the pillars to be the professional I am today.” She is also clear when she says, “the opportunities that the postgraduate diploma can give me to grow with Emirates are yet to come.”
In the foreseeable future she wants to continue working in the aviation industry, as flying around the world fulfills her desire to travel and get to know new places. Still, she has her sights clearly set on continuing her path of Human Resources Training in the hospitality industry. If the opportunity arises to pursue this path with Emirates, she will have fulfilled bother her professional and personal pursuits. Who knows, we may soon see her training Emirates’ future cabin crews on what it means to be a hospitality professional at 30,000 feet.