Alumni Interview Series
Five minutes with: Jack Widagdo

EAM Sales and Marketing – Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Bali

Jack Widagdo

Jack Widagdo, from Indonesia, graduated from BMIHMS in 2001 and since then, his career has taken him all around the world, from roles in food and beverage, to revenue management and now, sales and marketing. He chats to us about his experiences and how his studies at BMIHMS led him to where he is today.

You have a career that has seen you work in both hotels and resorts. What are the biggest benefits you’ve found to working in resorts?

There are lots of benefits to working in resorts as opposed to hotels. People tend to choose resorts for a proper holiday, and therefore you usually find the guests to be in a positive mood when they come to stay. Since guests stay longer, you get a chance to get to know them. Resorts also tend to have better locations – you’ll find them in exotic destinations, such as on private islands.

Working in hotels also has its benefits, though. For one, hotels tend to be in more easily accessible locations, so they are great in terms of convenience. Hotels tend to be much more transient than resorts; I find that you get a lot of people on business trips and short stays, and they are often just looking for fast service and a good nights sleep. Certainly, the atmosphere is more relaxed in a resort environment.

Is your current ambition to stay working in resorts?

To be honest, I like working in both hotels and resorts. I have gone back and forth between the two throughout my career and I like that they both offer different benefits and experience. It’s important for hoteliers to develop a whole range of skills and I think the best way to do that is by being exposed to different types of properties.

How easy has it been for you to move around the world with your skills?

One of the great benefits of studying at BMIHMS is that you really get to know people from different cultures. Living on campus in Leura is a unique experience – it’s not like a typical study environment where you just see people in class. You live with them too, you do social things together, and so you really get to learn a lot about different cultures. That, to me, was a huge benefit when I graduated and started working in different hotels around the world. Because of the friends I made at BMIHMS I was able to identify how certain cultures operated, and how to adapt my approach to work most effectively. I would say that your skills transfer quite easily from place to place, but you must be able to adapt and be open to change, and having a good understanding of different cultures is a huge benefit.

How did you make the transition in your career from operational roles into revenue management and then sales and marketing?

I worked hard to make it happen. I would say it was a combination of hard work and really keeping my eyes open for opportunities, because there are plenty of them in the hospitality industry.  That being said, there is an element of luck involved. You really need people to take a chance on you if you want to make this kind of transition.

How valuable was your degree when you graduated in Indonesia? Speaking to prospective Indonesia students.

BMIHMS is well known in Indonesia. One of the reasons is that there have been so many successful Indonesian graduates over the years.  I didn’t return to Indonesia immediately after graduation, but I don’t think I would have had any trouble finding a position because the School has such a good reputation over there. Indonesia is also a real area of growth for the hotel industry. In the last year alone, I couldn’t even tell you how many new properties have opened up in Bali and other areas. With this growth come many job opportunities.

At Mandapa, which will officially open in September, we still have quite a few positions to fill, so there are plenty of opportunities for BMIHMS students. There has never been a better time for BMIHMS students to find opportunities in Indonesia – whether it’s for industry placement or upon graduating.

Jack Widagdo, Mandapa by Ritz-Carlton

Jack’s current workplace, Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, will officially open in September 2015.

Any advice for students?

If you want to make the most of a career in hospitality, you really need to go to places with lots of up and coming properties. In these growth areas, you have a unique chance to be involved with a property from the very start – you are theoretically building the property from the ground up and you can make those roles what you want them to be. There are some incredible opportunities for students to see some properties come to fruition and be involved in every step along the way, and these opportunities don’t come around all the time. It might mean moving overseas, but these are the roles that will really make you as an industry professional.

How would you describe hospitality in 5 words or less.

I can’t! Honestly, it is hard to describe. It is one of those industries where what you do is not just a job, it’s a lifestyle. Everywhere you go and everything you do comes back to your work in some way. If I’m eating at a restaurant, I will be inspecting the cutlery, checking that the salt and pepper shakers are full; looking at how the staff are behaving. So much of what you do in your everyday life overlaps with your working life, but it’s in the best kind of way. You have to enjoy what you do because it goes beyond the end of your shift – you live hospitality every day.

For more about Jack’s career path or to read some other alumni success stories, click here.