Self-Academic Growth Identification and EvaluationI come from an Indian education background and this was my first international academic experience. I completed my post-graduation in Finance and Accounts in India, with a work experience of three and half years in an audit firm based in Mumbai. I always had an interest in learning about hotel operations, due to which I decided to specialize in the hospitality industry. Switzerland which is known as the motherland of schools in hospitality, it had to be my first choice when I made the tough decision to quit my job to pursue a second master’s degree in hotel management. We were informed that our course was divided into lectures and seminars; an overview of the whole course was explained to us by our course leader. The idea behind every subject was first to have a classroom study and the implementation of this study in the form of presentation and report writing; providing a deeper understanding of the subject. My main concern was adjusting to a different academic environment and culture. All our course modules were online on the school website which was new to me. We were a batch of thirty students from different culture and country, giving me a perfect opportunity to mix with different people and learn about their culture and background. My motive was to club my studies with my passion that is in the hotel industry. Therefore, getting a degree in Master of Science in International Hospitality was the best option to enhance my academic growth. All my professors were helpful and cooperative. The preparation for assignments and exams required time management and planning. A lot of research was involved right from my first assignment; this knowledge assisted me in managing other research essential for other assignments and extracurricular activities. Coming from a finance background, research as a subject was new to me. I knew from the beginning that doing research and writing a thesis project would be a big task for me. For which, I started reading the module provided by the school from the first week of our classes. Our professor helped us mark all the crucial areas in the research textbook. Our professor patiently heard our doubts and tried best to resolve them in the classroom. By the second term, I was keen to test my interest in examining my knowledge. The subject knowledge and writing on it would excite me and give a feeling of achievement. Detailed study of various research papers was undertaken to complete assignments. I liked the business strategy subject in particular, as it dealt with various practical aspects and strategies pertaining to business evaluation. This subject motivated me to opt for a business plan for my final project thesis. Managing the topics taught and breaking them into bullet points and marking them makes it easier for brains to recall in logical flow (Smale and Fowlie 2009). This helped me revise on the last day before the exams. The idea was to cut down the entire modules into bullet pointers in order to grasp the aim and motive behind the module at ease. The regular presentations in the classroom for the group project gave us more confidence in public speaking. With every presentation in class, I could see confidence and skills in presenting improving. In our second term, for our strategy module group presentation, I was appreciated for my presentation skills, which helped boost my confidence. Service class was again a completely new experience as I had never studied hospitality. I use to find restaurants very fascinating but I learned about the efforts of running a restaurant in this class. It’s a long and consistent task to run a successful restaurant. I learned about different kinds of spoons and where and why it is used for. The coordination with the kitchen and delivering timely food to the guest. We had two set of service classes for one in the school buffet outlet and second in the school fine dining restaurant. In Switzerland, most spoken language is German. And, so we had the opportunity to learn German language. It was difficult learning a new language at this age but was extremely beneficial for me. I managed to complete two levels of German during my study. Academic writing dealt with basic English language and grammar. The most important area what we covered in this is how to reference your research work and prevent plagiarizing work. The professor helped me understand how a literature review is written and why it is important for a research paper. I was also provided with some good material to read on literature review. The resume writing was also covered in this. It taught us how to write our own resume in a professional manner. Our internship department helped us groom well in the face to face interview. We also had a professional photo shoot for our resume.The school conducted a two-day special seminar on brand marketing which was very insightful. We had an external faculty, an expert in the field of brand marketing share her experience and knowledge with us. We had a field study to a manufacturing unit of famous Swiss watchmaker Omega. They told that they still believe in handcrafted watches over machine made. This gave their brand a unique identity in the market and people could relate to it. The famous Hollywood actor George Clooney is their brand ambassador and how cautiously they selected him is also a big story. Omega Company watches are used by the NASA to time all different missions including the famous mission to the moon, which was very fascinating. Omega Watch Company is the official timekeeper of the Olympic events. I learned how the brand value is created over the years by the hard work. Further, it is all the more difficult to maintain it in a similar way over the years to come. In the classroom I found people from same country and region always liked working together in the same group, limiting to their comfort zone. The major group work assignments were done with same people as they found it easier to communicate. The challenge was to convince people to split and try working with students from other countries. In our batch, major students belonged from two countries namely India and Thailand. I believe that each batch should have a mix of students of different nationalities and all should work together to enhance the international platform for students and help us broaden our viewpoints.At the end, we learn from all our experiences. My passion for hotel industry brought me here and I have definitely learned a lot about this industry from our excellent faculty with vast experience in this field. They have motivated me to excel in my curriculum and career. They also encouraged me in pursuing my dreams of opening Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) chain in India. Hope with all the knowledge and guidance from all my mentors, this can become a reality soon. Work Placement: Skill Identification and DevelopmentI am currently doing my internship at Beach Rotana Resort, Abu Dhabi in the finance department. For getting through the interview, my school professor guided me and also conducted a mock interview for me after classes, which really helped. I have a very supportive boss in Rotana, who allowed me to do cross training along with exposure in the finance department. Learning and Development (L&D) department of my hotel is very cooperative and helpful. They made me feel comfortable throughout my training program. I was allotted a department training coordinator at the finance department on my first day. He was responsible for my whole training plan in coordination with the L&D department. I was introduced to all my colleagues in the Finance department and had a departmental orientation. In the orientation, I was given a small tour of the hotel property, which gave information about the hotel, a number of restaurants, rooms, facilities etc. I was really excited to hear about the expansion the hotel was going through, which would take the hotel to 800 plus keys. There I saw an opportunity to learn and work on the hotel’s pre-opening assignment. I started with revenue department of finance as my coordinator thought this would give me better start to understand where the hotel earns its revenue from. Initial five days I did outlet cashiering at a very famous chain outlet in the hotel named Trader Vic’s. In a crowded restaurant atmosphere, it is very difficult to manage the cash and card payments every now and then from the guests. I was given to handle the micros system which the hotel uses at the point of sales. I learned about various functionaries of the micros system like how to punch the order, cancel the order, modify the order, split the check per table and close the check by cash or card or city ledger or room posting option. At the day end, all the transaction summary and tallying the cash count would be done and then drop the cash in the general cashier safe for accounting purpose. This system records all the food and beverages revenue of the hotel at the ground level.Then I commenced with the night audit and income audit process. Here I understood why I was told to do outlet cashiering initially by my training coordinator. It simplified my understanding process of the night and income audit. The proper authorization for Entertainment Checks (ENT), Duty Meal Checks (DM) and Void Checks of food and beverages (F&B) is very crucial and needs to be verified daily in the audit. Similarly all the checks in regards to room like allowance, rebates paid outs need to be verified daily. The important area is to reconcile the micros and opera income daily. Any deviation in the above processes needs to be investigated immediately. Calculations related to upselling commission, hotel card commissions, f&b commissions etc. are done accurately every month. This is how colleagues are motivated and hotel earns some extra revenue. Many reports are prepared like daily revenue report, F&B budget comparison report and forecast report. Revenue auditor verifies all the reports received from income and night auditor. Working with the cost control department was a different experience altogether. It mainly dealt with controlling the cost of F&B on daily basis. The everyday flash report prepared by cost department and is issued to concerned outlets. Flash report reflects the cost incurred by each outlet on day to day basis and helps control costs in future. The system used here is called food beverage materials system (FBM). On daily basis sales report is imported from micros system to FBM system to record the stock sold. I was part of the physical stock taking process also which is conducted at every month end. In this process, all the physical stock is taken of all the outlets and posted in the system. This gives the actual variance between the physical stock and stock in the systems. The big variance if any is to be investigated and a written explanation from the outlet manager is obtained for the same. If the explanation is not convincing, then the matter is escalated to finance head. Operating equipment stock taking is crucial in the hotel industry as it’s a big cost for the hotel. Stewarding department assists cost department in maintaining equipment stock efficiently. Every week breakage and spoilage report is submitted to cost department with proper explanation of stewarding manager. Then only the recording is done in the FBM systems. Every special event like weddings, banquet events, Christmas Eve etc. where a number of people exceed 200 counts, event profitability statement is prepared for detailed analysis. The menu and menu costing finalization is done by cost department in conjunction with outlet chefs. Different permutations are worked out to arrive at the cost-effective menu. The menu addition and deletion in micros system are done by cost department again. Menu and micros audit is also done to check whether micros items and price are in accordance with menu card. Quarterly menu engineering is carried out to check the acceptance of the menu amongst guests. The practical implementation of menu engineering was seen here by me after learning it in the hotel school. I witnessed the yield test which is conducted for the freshly procured meat and beef product, which calculates the effective usage quantity for cost purpose. There are many month-end reporting like the cost analysis of F, spoilage and breakage report, sales mix report etc.The credit department operation was mainly about recovering timely money from debtors. I saw how the credit approval of new client is carried out by credit department head. The credit limits should be reviewed regularly based on the business volume and consistency in payments. The overdue accounts should be settled immediately with constant follow-ups with the client. The high credit balance report is reviewed daily by credit department. They follow up with all outstanding PM folios and City ledger accounts on regular basis. It was good to learn about a number of good corporate clients which the hotel deals with. They also ensure all invoices for all charges are prepared, reviewed, mailed or hand delivered within 24 hours of guest departure. Aging analysis is carried out in month end procedure. The financial accounting (FA) and accounts payable (AP) department are working together closely with the finance department. Financial accounting is about reviewing expense, receiving, and general cashier (GC), and payroll report. I learned how the account codes, the validity of claim and authenticity of supporting documents are verified in the expense report. I also witnessed the cash drop collection process with the general cashier who does it on daily basis and then prepares the general cashier report. This helped me in my GC report review task with FA department. I also got an opportunity to assist paymaster who processes salary for the hotel employees. This process begins with finalizing the attendance of employees as submitted by the respective department head. After this overtime, cash advances, staff city ledger accounts, vacation, air ticket, indemnity and other deduction part is finalized. This process completes the payroll report which is reviewed by FA department. The heads system is used to compute salary for the hotel. So, I could observe the complete salary process of the hotel which was quite interesting. I looked into bank reconciliation process which explains the difference between bank balance and hotel book balance. Another crucial area is general ledger reconciliation process under which we checked and ensure that the amounts are shown accurately reflect the assets and liabilities of the hotel. If any deviation or incorrect charges are found are rectified immediately to ensure accuracy. So by this process, FA maintains track of each transaction impacting balance sheet and profit and loss account of the hotel. At the month end procedure, we prepared standard closing JVs like provisions, prepayment, accruals etc., review trial balance, government tax report and contract renewals if any.The Financial and Capital budget of the hotel for the year 2018 was finalized in the month of November 2017 with the consent of hotel group corporate office and the owner’s office. I was not completely involved in the making process of the budget but got an overview of the same from the persons involved in it. The format and the flow of the budget are adopted from Uniform Systems of Accounts for the Lodging Industry (USALI) book by American hotel association. The books of account are also maintained as per USALI. I was provided with the latest edition of USALI book which was very useful to understand the accounting process with FA. It was a good way to co-relate book knowledge with practical application at the same time. My colleagues also guided me constantly working on this process. I also got chance to have a glimpse of hotel pre-opening task. Similar budget is made for the pre-opening task.A fast-track training exposure was also undertaken by me in Front office (FO), Revenue, Housekeeping (HKP), Materials and Stores department which helped me understand how other departments are interconnected with the finance department. I could get my hands on some functions of Opera systems (Property Management Systems of the hotel) when training with FO and HKP department. I followed the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) issued by the hotel for each department, which I referred to at any point and helped me plan my department training. In materials department, I saw the ordering and procurement procedure of goods in the hotel. Every purchase was supported by supplier quotations and negotiation’s document. In stores, the goods storage classification and kitchen issue procedures were observed by me. The long expiry period for goods was essential while accepting the goods in the stores. The slow-moving goods were monitored closely and proper action was taken weekly. As a learning experience, it was very fulfilling. We have to keep learning every day and update ourselves for changes. My aim is to be a successful professional with a focus in the field of hospitality. This training gave an all-around experience and idea about the finance department and other operating departments of the hotel. I could learn a lot with all the SOPs which were made available to me. It explained more about the internal controls and policies which the company has implemented for the better work environment. This training has definitely added value to my knowledge. As A.P.J Abdul Kalam said “Never stop fighting until you arrive at your destined place – that is, the unique you. Have an aim in life, continuously acquire knowledge, work hard, and have the perseverance to realize the great life” (Brainy Quote 2018).