Eighty percent of the 33,000 Vateliens throughout the entire globe have remained in the hotel and tourist management sectors. Jean-Philippe Pelou-Daniel, who graduated from Vatel in Lyon in 1990, is one of the 20% who work in a different field, where the RH department was convinced of the qualities and skills of this Vatel alumnus.
For the past two years, Jean-Philippe Pelou-Daniel has been the General Manager of the La Part Dieu Shopping Center in Lyon, the largest European urban shopping center, in France’s second largest business zone.
He’ll tell us how he went from hotel management to managing a shopping center with 276 different stores. But when you look a bit closer, it’s not actually that different.
What did you do before attending Vatel? Why Vatel?
I was born in Lyon, and that is the city where my heart lies. I graduated from the Saint Just High School in the 5th district of Lyon, with a major in business administration. I was always a good student until I finished middle school, and then I had only one idea: that was to work in the hospitality industry. After middle school, I was tired of school and wanted to start working directly. But you know parents - they insist that you graduate from high school, so I really had no other choice and had to put off, impatiently, what I really wanted to do. After graduating from high school, I was finally able to study in the field I had always dreamed of. So I enrolled in Vatel in Lyon in 1988, and that’s when I started enjoying school again.
Editor’s note: Since 2002, Vatel no longer has two-year vocational degrees. Today Vatel students have the choice of two certified degrees that are registered in the National Directory of Professional Certification (RNCP): the Bachelor’s Degree in International Hotel Management, a level II degree with three years of post high school studies and the Postgraduate Degree in International Hotel Management, a level I degree with five years of post high school studies.
What do you remember the most about when you attended Vatel? A story to tell?
People and their values are what I remember the most at Vatel. I have very fond memories of Mrs. Jocelyne Sebban, who was like a mother for all her students. Though she was always warm and caring, she however never hesitated a second to put us back on the straight and narrow path when we needed this.
More than merely being a school, there is a “Vatel spirit” and “Vatel values.” Human values that teach you humility, the sense of service as well as sincerely welcoming others. Vatel made me the person in the front line that I am today, close to the men and women with whom I work as well as a man who knows what he wants and who believes in his own values.
What have you done since you graduated? What opportunities have you had?
I received my French BTS Vatel diploma in 1990. After that I did my mandatory military service at the Officer’s Mess in Fribourg. For one year I was in charge of organizing the departures of the FFA (French Forces in Germany).
When I finished, I went to Paris where I found my first job at the reception desk of the Baltimore four-star Hotel in the 16th district of Paris, between the Arch of Triumph and the Eiffel Tower. Pretty nice place to work for a first job, in a beautiful and historical venue.
A year and a half later, I started working in another branch of the Vivendi group. I became Deputy Manager of three two and three star hotels in the Latin Quarter. Beautiful little gems. Right after that I came back to Lyon for the opening of the Libertel Wilson three star Hotel, where I was the Hotel Manager for four years.
Then I managed a four-star hotel residence in Strasbourg, still with the Vivendi group, and after that I started working with Accor. For eight years I managed two Mercure hotels and restaurants at the same time, and then a Novotel. That adds up to 11 years in Strasbourg including eight with Accor.
The day that I turned 40, I changed jobs, and joined the Unibail Rodamco group. The Novotel that I had been managing was located in a shopping center and Hamerson Group asked me if I’d be interested in managing this shopping center. At the beginning I turned them down. But when Unibail, the European benchmark, came back to me with the same request, I ended up saying yes. So I became a Shopping Center Manager and I opened the Rivetoile Center in Strasbourg.
So could you explain how your experience in hotel management made you such a good candidate to manage a shopping center?
At the beginning, I didn’t feel that I had a completely new job at all. Managing a hotel and managing a shopping center have a lot of things in common. Instead of managing rooms, I manage shops. And I can convey to my customers the same values of warmly welcoming them as in a hotel. For example, when you arrive in Part Dieu, there’s a reception area, just like in a hotel. We created water shows, “IPad Bars” and an interactive area for children. I have introduced many services for customers.
Unibail Rodamco has introduced a four-star label for shopping centers. And with this type of new service, I can use my hotel experience: customer satisfaction is in the heart of everything. Right now I am preparing the file for the Part Dieu shopping center certification next September.
Is there anything you’d like to tell candidates who are thinking of enrolling in Vatel and students?
What makes Vatel stand out from other schools in the hospitality field, is the fact that they’ve understood that you have to be confronted with the realities of this job as young as possible and for the longest time possible. Even if sometimes practical application work seems to take forever and internships seem long, this is the very thing that will allow you, later on, to be more performing than the others in your profession.
After that, the values that Vatel teaches you when you are studying, remain an asset both in your professional and personal lives, as long as you embrace them without reservations. So my advice to candidates who are being interviewed would be to speak about your values and to learn what the values the company has. But be careful; there’s no cheating here. Either you believe them because they are also your values, or the recruiter sitting across from you will see right away that it’s not true.
In early September, the MBA students specializing in "Finance & Project Development" have made their return. We went to meet one of them and got some feedback.Read more
As part of its "tea, wine and culinary art" event, the Swiss Dojo Center opened its doors to students from Vatel Switzerland for a week of discovering the Valais region as well as various distinct flavors that tea, wine and gastronomy have to offer.Read more
Announced a few months ago, Vatel was undergoing the steps to becoming accredited as an “Ecole Supérieure”. As of October 12th 2018, it has successfully achieved this accreditation!Read more
On September 1st, on Vatel Switzerland’s campus, 86 newly graduated Vatelians, received their diplomas by the famous Swiss Mountaineer, Mr. Jean Troillet.Read more
On Monday morning, 80 new students arrived at Vatel Switzerland. The intake week was the occasion for these fresh new Bachelors to discover the school, the area, and to well prepare themselves for the academic semester ahead.Read more
September marks the return of our 2nd and 3rd year students from their internships. We talk to one of them to get the scoop on their experience!Read more
Robin Beney and Matthias Le Large, two 3rd year students, came in first place in the annual creative challenge of the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne out of over 40 participating hospitality management schools.Read more
Human Resources Director of one of the most beautiful Swiss Palaces, Florence Vialletel talks about her professional experiences, and Vatel students that she recruits for internships.Read more
After two days of auditing, the Vatel School in Martigny received the Swiss Eduqua label, recognizing its certification as a continuing educational institution.Read more
Vatel Switzerland is launching it's new MBA specialization Finance.Read more
On the special occasion of the launch of Vatel Switzerland’s new MBA Program, Marc Forestier, the Program Director and graduate of HEC Paris, gave us an interview.Read more
The 5th edition of the Graduation Ceremony takes off with a prestigious sponsorship and this year’s Event Ambassador, Mr. Leonard Gianadda.Read more
Une sélection d’étudiants de Vatel Martigny se sont distingués par leurs compétences à l’occasion du plus grand meeting aérien de Suisse organisé du 15 au 17 septembre 2017.Read more
MBA student, Aubane Rietsch, made her dreams come true by obtaining the position of Sales and Marketing Trainee.Read more
Vatel Switzerland had the honor to welcome the members of the executive management of the prestigious luxury hotel chain for the placement of trainees and the recruitment of their future international executives for their 5* Hotel in Paris.Read more
Laura Pasquier explains her latest internship opportunityRead more
Cynthia Abi Khalil and Antoine Swaelus, 2nd year students of the bachelor international class, worked during 5 weeks of their practical courses to organize the gastronomic fortnight Vatel international cuisine under the theme of Belgium.Read more
Three of our 3rd year students of the international class worked during their last practical week in order to gather students with their families around one royal family table, to enjoy a lovely dinner with a warm cozy atmosphere.Read more
Florence Delhaise, class of 2015 has won the 2017 Bucherer Trophy for the best receptionist in SwitzerlandRead more
Vatel Switzerland’s newest Event Ambassador reaches the summit!Read more