Alumni interview: A childhood dream fulfilled

16 Aug 2016 | by Les Roches


Michele Romita Les Roches alumnusName: Michele Romita
Nationality: Italian
Campus: Les Roches Switzerland, Diploma in Hotel Management, Class of 2012
Current job: International Product Manager for Italy at Tourico Holidays, Inc. in Rome

Michele Romita is one of those rare individuals who discover a goal early in life — and remain focused until that goal is achieved. An International Product Manager for all of Italy (at Tourico Holidays, Inc.) at the age of 25, he attributes his early success to the fact that he developed a dream of hospitality as a ten-year-old boy in Bari, Italy.

“One of my best friends was the son of a hotel owner in my city and we studied together in their apartment, which was on the top floor of the hotel,” Michele recalls. “I fell in love with the hotel and the atmosphere. I wanted to live and work in a hotel, too!” Unfortunately, there were a few obstacles on the way to the front office. For one thing, Michele’s parents did not share his dream. “In a traditional Italian family, we are focused on family, house and job,” he says. “My dad wanted me to stay home and study law or finance.”

In addition, there were no options for meeting his parents halfway by staying home and studying hospitality management. “In Italy, hospitality is seen as secondary,” he says. “We don’t have the schools to train people professionally. So when I found Les Roches, I knew I had to go.” And, with the help of an aunt who wanted to support his dream by paying his tuition, Michele enrolled at Les Roches. “My aunt passed away while I was at school,” he says. “I will never forget that she made it all possible for me.”

Doors opened quickly for Michele once he received his degree: he was recruited by the Renaissance Baton Rouge Hotel, which offered him a position as a Rooms Division Management Trainee weeks before he graduated. On the plane to Louisiana, Michele was told by American passengers that where he was going was “not really America.” As a newcomer to the U.S., he was understandably nervous, but in retrospect he describes it as “the most exciting experience of my career.”

“I was scared when I arrived in Louisiana, but when I had to leave, I literally cried,” he recalls of his year in Americas Deep South.

In the beginning, I was completely alone, but people were amazing and by the end I formed so many strong relationships. I learned a lot from both a personal and professional point of view. I really loved it.

He would have stayed if his Visa had not expired, but instead he returned to Europe, where he quickly secured an internship in Management Training and Administration at Floris Hotel Collection in Brussels, Belgium. Within three months, he was promoted to Sales Executive and it was while performing that role that he met a team from Tourico.” I fell in love with the world of brokerage and decided to apply for a vacancy with the company,” he recalls. “I was recruited and asked to move back to Italy to open Tourico’s first Italian office.” Since launching the office as part of a staff of three, Michele has risen to the company’s most senior position in a growing team of fourteen.

“It’s a very dynamic company, always one step ahead,” he says. “I like that they invested in me and gave me time to grow.” Michele describes his main responsibilities as “reaching and exceeding the monthly budget set by company expectations; ensuring that my team follows company guidelines; and maintaining a good relationship with partner hotels, so they keep growing year after year.”

Looking back over his quick rise to executive status, Michele remembers the days when his father thought that Les Roches would be a risky choice for his education. “He was worried I was making the wrong decision,” he says. “But once I was able to show him the results, he knew it was the best decision I could possibly have made.”

“Les Roches makes the difference – it’s as simple as that,” Michele adds. “I went through lots of job interviews and each time academic achievements came up, Les Roches was seen as an added value. All the people linked to the hospitality industry know the school and they are aware that graduates coming from Les Roches are a step ahead in terms of preparation.”

That said, he admits that it takes a particular mindset to succeed at Les Roches: “Les Roches is not for everybody,” he advises. “You have to be an open minded person who is willing to take on challenges in your life.” Now that Michele has achieved his own goal of becoming a manager in his 20s, what challenges are next for him? He responds to this question with a quote from Seneca: “I am not born for one corner; the whole world is my native land.

Asked to expand on this, he explains,

Traveling, exploring and discovering new places and cultures are my passions. I will use these passions as leverage to keep growing in my professional life. If there is a good opportunity, I`ll go for it, no matter where.

This may not be the most welcome news for his family, who his current job allows him to see once or twice a month. But so far, Michele has managed to back up his riskiest decisions with impressive results, and he firmly believes that “the best is yet to come.”

Michele’s advice to Les Roches students starting out is clear, simple, and borne out by his own experience: “Follow your dreams,” he says. “Sometimes it’s difficult, but in the end it always comes down to your own happiness.”

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