“Triumph without peril brings no glory.” If there is one sentence that summarizes Pedro Furao, it would certainly be this one.
Pedro Furao is a challenge-loving and pragmatic Vatelien, not afraid of overcoming the most ambitious hurdles. In 2008, he received his Bachelor's Degree in International Hotel Management in Vatel in Nimes, and today he is the Operations Manager of the Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts in Shanghai, China. Let's listen to his story and glean some precious tips.
NEW JOBS FOR VATELIENS: In July, 2014, Pedro was hired as the The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company Tenerife Spain, Hotel Manager. Coming soon: her new interview.
What is your current position?
At the moment, I am working with Banyan Tree Hotel & Resorts in the recently opened flagship facility in Shanghai, China.I've held the position of Food & Beverage Operations Manager since 2012.Parallel to this, I assist the F&B Corporate department for everything that involves Food & Beverages for China.This goes from corporate negotiations to changes in standards, new concepts, analysis of customers and trends, etc.
What did you do before attending Vatel?
I graduated from high school in 2001 in the Rabat American School in Morocco and then went to Portugal to continue my studies in Computer Engineering and then after a couple of years, I decided to study what is now my passion: hotel management in Vatel in Nimes.
Vatel in Nimes was a school that offered something different compared with the others.Running its own hotel and restaurants parallel to the weekly trainings that are integrated in the studies is something very suitable for people who prefer operations and contact with guests. Since I personally knew that I would never be in the Admin side but more into operations, I felt that Vatel was able to offer me the pre-work experience to better face the daily challenges in my future professional positions.
Could you tell us about something that was done or said while you were attending Vatel (either in your theoretical and practical courses or during an internship) that still influences you today in your professional life?
My first week in Vatel Nimes started off with training in the Le Provencal Kitchen, where the only thing I heard was bad things about the Chef, that he was tough, strict, very demanding to students and that the split shifts were horrible.That is when I met Chef Mathieu (ChefMat) and before I knew it, on my third day I was in the hot line, cooking fish and meat in an area only designated for 3rd year students.From that moment on, it only was learning and fun.Chef Mat kept on giving me more and more responsibilities from menu creation to menu costing and leadership skills.
As of my second year, I already was training students and covering the Chef's days off.I had a sense of responsibility, dedication, team work and humbleness.Furthermore, I learned that anyone is capable of achieving his or her goals as long as we listen to them and train them.These tense moments in the restaurant awakened my sense of organization, being a team player and team leader and I learned that there was nothing more rewarding than having a team that respected you, not because of the title you have but because the person that you truly are.Everything is led by the example.
What have you done since you graduated?What opportunities have you had?
Just after finishing Vatel, I was chosen by Starwood to join their Starwood leadership program in Latin America where they train young potential candidates to take Executive positions within 2 years.I flew to San Jose Los Cabos, Mexico to join this training program finishing my journey in Starwood as the Assistant Food & Beverage Manager in a property complex.I was then offered the same position with Banyan Tree Hotel & Resorts to open the first property in America: Banyan Tree Mayakoba, Playa del Carmen, Mexico.This involved opening a luxury brand hotel and was a new challenge for me.
Rapidly after the opening I was selected by the corporate office to assist in other openings as part of the pre-opening team from the corporate office.During those 2 years I opened Banyan Tree Cabo Marques, Acapulco and Banyan Tree Club & Spa in Seoul, Korea.I was then approached by Occidental, to run the F&B operation as Food & Beverage Manager and acting Resident Manager in El Embajador Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Parallel to my responsibilities in Santo Domingo I handled all concept creation front of the house and back for a new hotel opening in Petion Ville, Haiti, a management agreement with Occidental.I was the main liaison between the owner and Occidental.In end of 2011, Banyan Tree contacted me again to join the company in April to open Banyan Tree Shanghai in the Bund, China, as Food & Beverage Operations Manager, the most important project of the company taking into consideration the quick growth of the company in the Chinese Market.
And if you have anything else you'd like to say…
Graduating from any hospitality school is definitely a tremendous asset and puts you ahead of a lot people that unfortunately cannot continue their studies; however it must be kept in mind that the hospitality world is becoming more competitive on a daily basis.Most of the times the degree that you have is not the major decision maker when companies hire new employees. They are mostly looking for passionate people with self-discipline, creativeness and with experience.So don't waste your time, if you can have more training, take it and put all your effort into it. Furthermore, keep in mind the hospitality world is very small so maybe the little extra effort you made during your first year's training could open a lot of doors in the near future.Take each training as if it was your last and always challenge yourself and aim at high objectives.Today as professional time is precious, don't waste it,and make use of it.
On the other hand considering that I am currently working in China, I would say if you have the possibility to work in China, do it. The cultural differences are enormous, the daily habits are totally different but professionally very enriching.Furthermore Asia is the continent with the quickest growth in terms of hotels so definitely a lot of opportunities for young graduates that are willing to go abroad. This is maybe not the easiest job but it is challenging and tremendously rewarding.