Thomas Boccard graduated from Vatel Nimes in Mai, 2013 and he already leads a team of 55 as the Assistant Manager for the INSEAD facility in Fontainebleau for Sodexo Prestige Sports et Loisirs. And Thomas’ daily jobs are HR, Accounting & Finance, and Sales & Marketing!
How did you get this job Thomas, and what do you do?
Just a month after I got back from my Management Training in China, I started working with Sodexo Prestige Sport & Loisirs, as the Assistant Manager on the INSEAD site in Fontainebleau, near Paris. They were looking for a senior executive for this position, but my profile and enthusiasm convinced the recruitment officers.
Sodexo Prestige Sport & Loisirs operates in prestigious venues such as the Lido, the Roland Garos Tennis Open restaurants, the PSG, OM and OL soccer stadiums, the Industrial Arts Center, the Polytechnique Engineering facility, restaurants in the Eiffel Tower, Paris yachts and many other exceptional sites. INSEAD (The European Business Administration Institute), even though it is not well known by the general public in France, is one of Europe’s leading business schools with facilities in Fontainebleau, Singapore and Abu Dhabi. Just like in Vatel Nimes, there are a large number of foreign students and over 70 nationalities work together on the campus during their schooling. Daily management of a team of 55 on four very distinct profit centers is certainly a challenge.
In Insead, Sodexo Prestige has:
- A self-service cafeteria that serves on average 950 meals per day and where Insead students and faculty members make up the vast majority of our customers.
- A bar and a snack bar.
- Venues pour seminars.
- More traditional and intimate restaurants.
We’re also in charge of huge events where we can seat up to 1,200 such as Alumni meetings, Insead employee seminars or Career Fairs.
So I have varied and quite transversal tasks:
- Monitoring managerial schedules and those of their team members.
- Preparing quarterly team meetings, and writing the minutes.
- Operational presence.
- Going over the goals to be met and setting up actions plans and processes to meet them.
- Dealing with unions.
Accounting and Finance:
- Participation in drawing up Forecasts  and going over end of the month operational costs with the site manager.
- Optimization of production and sales with the CEO.
- Analysis and statistics of profitability, monitoring the various ratios and rolling out action plans and corrective measures.
Sales & Marketing:
- Creating and following special events schedules with department managers.
- Taking part in drawing up our sales strategy with the site manager.
- Price quotes and following up special events services.
- Benchmarks and prospection.
- Parameterization and updating our internet offers.
- Procedures and compliance with HACCP Standards.
- Following up surveys and quality control in order to ensure customer satisfaction.
What do you think you will be doing in a few years, or in the long term?
I certainly couldn’t have started off my professional life better, as this job combines everything that you have to do when you’re running a business. It’s a big challenge with lots of responsibilities, which allows me to use everything I learned at school, in my internships and other jobs to correctly carry out my missions as the site’s Assistant Manager.
In the short term I’d like to continue working here and gaining experience so that in the mid-term I could be a General Manager, either here or elsewhere. In a much longer term I’d like to manage an entire sector, meaning that I’d be in charge of several group sites. I hope that as I have an entrepreneurial spirit and love innovation, I’ll be able to fulfill my dream one day, which is to imagine and design my own concept. More to come...
You were talking about your professional experience in Shanghai where you had your other internships?
When I was at school I had the opportunity of acquiring quite a bit of knowledge both in France and abroad, either with my internships or my summer jobs. Here are the main ones:
- Assistant General Housekeeper at the Hotel des Neiges**** in the Courchevel ski resort.
- Captain & Barman at the Lone Star Steakhouse and Saloon on the Gold Coast in Australia, and then in the Ecurie du Castellas in Saint Tropez, in France.
- Sales & Marketing Assistant at the Hotel Les Organgeries*** in Lussac les Chateaux, the first European Ecolabel hotel in France, promoting sustainable development.
- Special Events and Seminars Sales Manager in the Les Hotels de Paris (HDP) group, the leading independent hotel group in Paris with a network of 27 three and four-star hotels.
- And finally my Management Training as the F&B Assistant in the Sofitel Hyland Shanghai which for me was the opportunity to discover a “heavyweight” with 450 rooms and four restaurants. When you work at a Sofitel in China, you have to know how to keep your “French touch,” and fine French lifestyle, while adapting this to Asian customs and their hustle and bustle. Shanghai is a city where everything is so much bigger than elsewhere, and where some gourmet codes have been overturned.
Being French, I was like an unofficial ambassador of French know-how in the hotel and also the main contact between guests/staff and management. One of my main responsibilities was to check and apply the processes imposed by a luxury hotel chain in order to ensure customer satisfaction. An unbelievable multicultural managerial experience! In my opinion, students in our sector must have had some experience in Asia. For me it was a great lesson in life where opening up to others and their cultures is necessary to transform your experience into a real springboard to launch your career.
You just left Vatel Nimes and its classrooms and hotel a few months ago; can you tell us what you think about the curriculum?
Vatel’s curriculum is very demanding and teaches us to strive for excellence, while also teaching us that this is hard to do when you’re alone! Team spirit in our courses, in the kitchens, and student life were key points. Beyond the excellent courses given at Vatel, it has become like a second family for me and I’ve got many fond memories. What I’ll remember above all is all the great people that I met as well as the friendships with both students and faculty members that have continued up until now.