There aren't many visitors to New York who can say their first day in the Big Apple involved looking behind the scenes at one of the world’s most famous hotel chains and then holding a Q&A with a vice-president of one of the world’s biggest banks.
But that’s exactly what happened to De Montfort University (DMU) students from the Faculty of Business and Law (BAL) when they spent an amazing few hours learning about commerce the New York way, during the third annual #DMUglobal mass trip to the city that never sleeps.
BAL students prepare for a busy but hugely inspirational day
More than 1,000 students and supporting academics have made the trip across the Atlantic to spend five days taking in inspirational study visits relevant to their degrees and cultural trips to expand their horizons under the banner of DMU’s #LoveInternational campaign.
DMU Enterprise senior lecturer Dr Simon Hill had organised for BAL students to spend the morning at the Holiday Inn Times Square, a 35-storey hotel which caters for 850 guests every day of the year.
Then in the afternoon they walked to the financial district and the New York headquarters of BNP Paribas, an ethical banking group, which prides itself on its record for social responsibility and amassed revenue of $52 billion in 2017.
BNP Paribas Vice-President Joe Mangano with the BAL students
Dr Hill led by example, showing students one of the first lessons of business success is making contacts and maintaining them.
The regional director who showed the students around the Holiday Inn Times Square, Paul Viapiano, and the Vice-President of Compliance at BNP Paribas New York, Joe Mangano, were old friends of Simon’s that he had met through business some 20 years previously - and remained in touch with ever since.
Final-year Business Management student Naomi Ayeni said: “What an amazing experience. You do not get to do something like this if you take your own trip to New York. There was so much that I wanted to know and I had all my questions answered.”
Gareth Watson, who is studying Business and Globalisation, said: “I have previously done a year on placement through DMU and I can happily say that this experience today prepares you for what is to come in business.
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“It was a really enjoyable day and it was great to learn about the workplace culture in New York.”
Business and Marketing student Lyndon Tarrant added: “This has given me a real insight into how the real world works. I got a great sense of what it takes to work in these industries day in and day out.”
During their trip to the Holiday Inn Times Square, the students were given an insight into how a major hotel operates in one of the most competitive cities in the world. New York City has some 500 plus hotels. The importance of customer service could not be stressed enough, but they also heard how other details mattered.
BAL students with senior staff from the Holiday Inn
So housekeeping, security, maintenance, customer service and marketing play vital roles. But so does ensuring guests have had a good night’s sleep and can have issues resolved immediately.
General manager Glenda Gomez, for example, rides the lifts every morning to say hello to guests and check everything is okay with their stay.
At BNP Paribas, Mr Mangano revealed how the bank is committed to sustainability and proud to invest in what it considers to be a responsible way.
The bank is supportive of renewable energy companies and digital economies but does not invest in the tobacco industry, for example.
A Q&A saw students enthusiastically questioning all aspects of banking, from the crash of 2009 and Brexit to job advice and what the future holds for the finance industry.
Dr Hill said at the end of the trip: “I think it has been a really informative and inspirational day for the students.”
Posted on Saturday 5th January 2019