Don’t tell Seren Keskin ’17 the odds. She was selected as one of the 15 of 9,000 applicants to take part in Hilton’s Elevator General Manager Development Program, a program that has put her on the fast track. She now works in hospitality on The Pearl, a man-made peninsula of Doha, Qatar, featuring yacht-lined marinas, luxury shopping and high-end dining.
Keskin, a Psychology and Business and Nonprofit Management double major at Earlham, is a sales manager in Hilton Doha The Pearl in Qatar. Sales managers are part of the business development team who work to run the hotel at optimal occupancy.
Seren is pictured above with Hilton CEO Chris Nassetta.
The hotel is in its pre-opening phase, since it is still under construction.
“The reason why some of the commercial team joins nearly six months before the actual opening is so that they can set up the rates, market positioning, and start spreading the word about the hotel.”
Keskin is from Bodrum, Turkey, a tourist beach town.
“Hospitality felt dear to my heart, and having studied business management as well as Psychology, this was a better balance for me in terms of running the business while being in direct contact with the customers.”
A variety of her experiences at Earlham help contribute to the work she does everyday.
“I see everything I’ve done in classes now first hand in real life,” she says. “We do the same SWOT analyses, we run the same market studies, we make similar educated guesses or take calculated risks just as we would with business cases in management courses. Hilton holds the pride of being one of the most diverse companies in the world, in many ways, gender ratio, ethnicity, LGBTQ, and Earlham was definitely a place where I could embrace this. Earlham allowed me to pursue a well-rounded education.”
In addition, she says her studies in Psychology help her greatly in the hospitality industry, as well as the teamwork skills she gained as field hockey forward and a hall director with Residence Life. Competitive, cross-disciplinary work environment? No problem.
Her General Manager Development Program is 18 months in duration, split into two nine-month placements in two different hotels.
“The program allows us to go through a rotation in every single department,” she says. “We get an exposure in hotel operations — food and beverage, front office, housekeeping, even smaller departments such as IT and engineering — and in commercial — sales, marketing and PR, revenue management, etc. — as well as briefly though the finance and human resources to know how these connect with the rest of the business.”