Behind the Scenes: The Alumni behind Enderun Hospitality Management
Most of today’s professionals were once students. In this feature article, Enderun alumni Tommy Billedo, Sofia Miranda, and Radwin Navarro, recount their college years and share what it is like now that they are working with Enderun Hospitality Management (EHM), the school’s consulting arm.
From Acacia Hotel in Alabang, to Misibis Bay in Albay, and Privato Hotel in Ortigas—these are only some of the notable clients of Enderun Hospitality Management. Offering a variety of services ranging from operations and revenue management to national sales, marketing, training, and providing hotel software solutions, EHM bears a track record of successful ventures despite its recent entry to the market in 2012. Along with industry veterans in its leadership team, including Enderun Colleges’ Lead Founder, Jack Tuason, who also founded Ambergris Solutions, Inc. (now TELUS International Philippines), EHM acknowledges the role being played by Enderun’s alumni in its continuous growth.
Class of 2013
When asked how they transitioned from college to the professional world, Tommy Billedo, EHM’s Corporate Revenue Manager, compares his experience to the difference between night and day. He graduated with a degree in International Hospitality Management, major in Hotel Administration. “It’s a different level of responsibility that you’re not accustomed to as a student. Personally you have to be able to be accountable for the things that you do, things that you say. But at the same time you feel more empowered again to be better at whatever you’re working at, and at the end of the day it all boils down to if you are fulfilled in doing what you’re doing,” he said.
He shared how the school has helped him find what fulfills him as well. “It was really all in spending time here, to travel and work in a setting that wasn’t artificial, that really helped me figure out what it is I wanted to be. Here you try out a lot of things, and you figure out a lot about yourself and of the industry along the way.”
Meanwhile, Sofia Miranda, also part of the Revenue Management team, and Business Development Executive Radwin Navarro, tell of how they learned to adapt to their changing environment.
Sofia graduated with a degree in Business Administration, major in Financial Management. “I believe through internships, the opportunities I had working in a bank and advisory firm really helped me a lot in honing my interests, gaining the skills, to equip me to where I am now,” she mentioned. “Both of my internship experiences were somewhat related to the tasks and activities that I’m doing now. So the opportunity to be able to do that was aligned to where I am now.”
Similarly, Radwin, who graduated from Enderun with a double-major in Hotel Administration and Culinary Arts, said, “During college I was able to do my internship for front office and pastry kitchen in Solaire [Resort and Casino] and then front office in Amanpulo, and during that time I really didn’t know what I wanted. Somehow because of my experiences through Enderun, right now I know a little bit of everything from front office to kitchen operations, so I think Enderun has really equipped me and provided me with the things I need to know in the hospitality industry.”
Learning Experience, Rare Opportunity
Adding a little bit of background, Tommy likened their role in the Revenue Management department to being ‘the economists of the hotel.’ It is where they look at supply and demand, adjusting prices accordingly and varying them in online channels, through sales as well as direct bookings. They not only look historically at how a hotel has been going on, but they also try to optimize the bookings that hotels are getting through increasing prices, decreasing prices, and making promotions.
He further described their involvement with EHM now as thinking more of the ‘big picture, out of the box.’ “What I really appreciate about my time here is that in Enderun, we actually have a bit of an advantage because we’re actually more open minded about how to do our revenue management. We try to stay a bit ahead of the curve, lots of learning, lots of trying new things out,” he went on to say. “Again we make a lot of mistakes, but at the same time it’s all a learning experience. EHM’s growing, it’s growing very fast, but at the same time we understand that some things work, some things don’t, which is always trying to get better at it.”
“I think it comes naturally after time. It’s a growing, learning experience,” Sofia added. “People I work with here have been my classmates, good friends, and to think that this was a startup, working with a founder, someone like Sir Jack. I learned a lot from him; he’s quite the business man. You’re moving in a pace that’s a lot faster, and it’s a lot more challenging because you grow and adapt. It basically pushes you out of your comfort zone, so this is a rare opportunity.”
For Radwin, EHM’s progression is what keeps her inspired. “We are helping independently owned hotels through increasing their revenue. We are very helpful to the growth of the companies we work with, and it inspired me. I think Sir Jack is a visionary. He has great ideas, and it will really inspire and motivate the people working under him and you’ll learn a lot from him. I see growth in EHM and its aggressively growing this year.”
Moreover, asked what they would tell their freshman selves knowing what they do now, “The advice I would give back to myself, is that just try to look at everything as if you’re looking at it for the first time. See the little nuances, try to learn a lot more, try to just become more complete. You’re always yearning to become better, because that for me is just really how you should be living your life, not so much on all been there done that attitude that a lot of people seem to carry around at this point…we need to stay in that formative stage if you want to continue to expand yourself,” Tommy answered.
For Sofia, she would encourage her younger self to explore more. “I guess to allow yourself to explore and discover. Be more open minded to the opportunities that the school offers, maximize that. Because the more you open yourself to opportunities, you discover more what you like, what you don’t like, better than after school. I mean the sooner you do it, the sooner you get to enjoy the job you get after.”
“Be a little bit more open minded,” Radwin added for her part. “Be open to more experiences and get out of my comfort zone, get to know more people.”
Furthermore, they related the traits and qualities that are vital in today’s working environment. For Sofia, the ability to have a good attitude in terms of adapting and taking up challenges is key. Understanding yourself and how everyone is different, as well as loving what you’re doing are what Tommy considered as essential. Lastly, Radwin emphasized how important it is to never stop learning, to understand where each of your colleagues are coming from, and to be patient, diligent, since everything is a new working experience.
Finally, the alumni shared what they are looking forward to in the industry, now that they are working with other members of the leadership team such as Bobby Horrigan, EHM’s Managing Director who was also awarded the Mabuhay Gold Award as Hotelier of the Year back in 2013; Tricia Tensuan, Vice President for Admissions and External Relations; Thomas Wenger, Senior Culinary Academic Consultant at Enderun; Lisa Zakharka, Business Development Manager and former Resident Manager of Misibis Bay, as well as Katherine Buenviaje, EHM’s Marketing Manager.
“The goal is to materialize the vision,” Sofia mentioned, “and working in a strong team to achieve that. Not giving up. Enjoying what you’re doing. Having that growth mentality.” To which Radwin added, “To succeed in what I do, and to inspire other people to do the same.”
Tommy concluded that the goal is to not be dissuaded. “Seeing through what Enderun has for Revenue Management, lots of hotels can benefit from it. Uplifting independent hotels in the Philippines and giving them the tools in their day-to-day operations, to have that level of excellence. It’s really worth it in the end.”