IU (formerly known as IUBH) alumnus Jan Kolbe talks about career opportunities, the switch from the hotel industry to an online travel agency and studying at IU International University of Applied Sciences (formerly known as IUBH).
After graduating from university and gaining initial professional experience in hotel operations, you were quickly offered a position as a revenue manager, mainly concerned with strategies for increasing a hotel's revenues.
WHAT WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR THAT ENABLED YOU, AS A YOUNG PROFESSIONAL, TO TAKE ON THIS RESPONSIBLE POSITION SO SOON?
In 2009, the effects of the economic crisis were still clearly noticeable. Hotel chains had significantly downsized their trainee programmes. The decisive factor for my immediate career start was in any case IU's (formerly known as IUBH) excellent reputation in the industry, the combination of theoretical and practical curricula as well as outstanding opportunities to study abroad.
HOW DID YOU SUCCEED IN BEING PROMOTED TO DIRECTOR OF SALES AT THE RENAISSANCE DÜSSELDORF HOTEL?
I really enjoyed working as a revenue manager. However, I also wanted to gain experience as a manager with HR responsibilities. Thanks to the support of my boss and key talks with the area directors, this career step within the hotel group became possible. Everyone has their own career path in their own hands - new opportunities sometimes emerge sooner than expected. It is important to recognise them and embrace them. That's what I did.
AFTER HOLDING VARIOUS POSITIONS IN THE HOTEL INDUSTRY, YOU SWITCHED TO THE ONLINE TRAVEL AGENCY EXPEDIA GROUP. WHAT WAS YOUR MOTIVATION?
Change is exciting. It expands your horizons and deepens the wealth of your experience. Only those who constantly strive for new challenges and leave their comfort zone will continue to learn. I definitely found these opportunities for growth at Expedia.
WHAT ARE YOUR CURRENT RESPONSIBILITIES?
Currently I am Area Manager Germany West. I lead a team of account managers who are responsible for supporting our hotel partners in North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate. Our goal is to increase sales through promotional activities such as promotion campaigns, and adjustments to compensation and contract models. In these areas, we work in close contact with our hotel partners and also support them with technical challenges, such as connectivity to our systems.
WHAT DID YOU LEARN DURING YOUR STUDIES AT IU THAT HAS PROVEN TO BE USEFUL IN YOUR CURRENT JOB?
At IU (formerly known as IUBH), students are well prepared for the working world. In addition to having basic subject-specific knowledge, the most important thing in professional life is to develop the right attitude and a passion for one's work. Instead of challenges, there are only new opportunities. Even while studying at IU (formerly known as IUBH), it was always important to adjust to new situations: be it in projects, internships, during the study year abroad or working with fellow students. Looking back, the integration of theoretical and practical content and the opportunity to study abroad were of great importance.
This allowed me to acquire my first experiences in an international environment.
In addition, it is possible even during your studies at IU (formerly known as IUBH) to directly apply your acquired knowledge to exciting projects. The professors and lecturers themselves usually have a very practice-oriented background and are open to suggestions from students that in turn can lead to new projects. While studying there are many opportunities to build a professional network - thanks also to IU's (formerly known as IUBH) excellent contacts with companies.
WHICH TIPS ABOUT STARTING A CAREER WOULD YOU LIKE TO PASS ON TO STUDENTS AND PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS?
Modern companies are constantly changing in order to adapt to globalisation and digitalisation. Therefore, it is important to always be open to new ideas, to accept change, to dare courageous moves, to be proactive, to show passion and never lose sight of your personal vision.