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Hello Claire! To start, please quickly introduce yourself.
Hello, my name is Claire Gomolla. I was part of the 2012 graduating class from KEDGE Marseille, what was Euromed at the time. I’m currently Sales Manager for Victoria Tasmania with AccorHotels in Melbourne.
What does your job entail? What are your duties?
Today I manage a hotel in Box Hill in Melbourne that’s called The Chen. I handle negotiating contracts for corporate clients for all of Australia. The main office is located in Victoria or Tasmania.
I work with companies who specialise in business travel, such as Flight Centre, and I negotiate the contracts according to the volumes proposed by the customer. In addition to my corporate contracts, I’m in charge of a specific agency called "Corporate Traveller". My job is to keep them up-to-date on our latest activities, special offers, new hotels, as well as creating targeted offers to encourage them to book our hotels.
Tell us about your time at KEDGE? What did you study?
While at KEDGE, I was in its Grande Ecole Programme with a focus on marketing. I decided to not do a gap year, but an end-of-studies internship abroad instead. That was when I had my first experience living in Melbourne, for an online magazine on the French-speaking culture.
How did KEDGE help you develop and reach your goals?
KEDGE helped me a lot in the sense that its programme is very versatile. The customisable “à la carte" course programming made it possible for me to not to close any doors, and I was able to discover areas of activity in which I wouldn’t have necessarily imagined myself working in. This gives a wider choice of careers when you finish, and great opportunities.
How long have you been an expatriate?
I came to Melbourne in 2012 and I’ve never left. After my end-of-studies internship, I worked for a web agency, Linkeo, where I handled digital production for all of Australia. After that, I applied for a development project with a hotel chain in Australia and got the job. That’s how I began my career in the hotel industry. I’ve been here seven years now!
What were your reasons for moving to Melbourne?
My move to Melbourne was made possible thanks to my end-of-studies internship. I came here by chance, and very quickly loved this city. Life is very energetic here. Melbourne’s a multicultural city and very open, and there’s lots to do from a cultural and sports point of view, so you never get bored!
What surprised you the most about this country?
The non-conformity. In Melbourne, you see many people who dress very differently and no one judges them. Australians are very open-minded!
Professionally, what cultural differences have you noted between France and Melbourne?
The manner of expressing yourself is very different. The French have a tendency to be more distant in their relationships with others, while here everyone speaks very informally to each other and call each other “Mate”, which means “friend”.
The relationship with the company’s hierarchical structure is also different. We can defend our point of view and question the suggestions of our superiors. You can have a real exchange with them and everyone accepts the opinions of others, regardless of their position in the company.
What are your plans for the future ?
Professionally, I’d like to advance to a commercial and marketing director position for a hotel group, or for a brand of AccorHotels.
As for living in Australia, I am very happy here for the moment and don’t see myself leaving. We’ll see what the future holds for me!
Is there another country in which you would have liked to live, and why?
I’ve heard good things about Singapore, Dubai, or even the United States. Right now, there isn’t any particular country where I think I’d like to live. I think that everywhere has its advantages and inconveniences. You have to get out and experience the local way of living and see if you are made to live there or not.
What advice would you give to a student or recent graduate who might consider trying a similar challenge?
I would advise finding out the country’s employment needs and make sure you have a good enough level of English to work in an environment where French isn’t spoken.
I also think that you mustn’t set unrealistic goals. There is a language barrier that will play a big role in the early days. You must be ready to accept that life will be hard for the first couple of years and be prepared to be far from your family.
If you want to reach your goal of working abroad, you must give yourself the means. Australia offers great opportunities. Even if you fail here, you can always find a way to bounce back. You can’t give up at the slightest bit of difficulty. You’ll be judged on your attitude to failure, rather than on the reasons for your failure.
Interview conducted in Melbourne by Emma and Manon, KEDGE Alumni Travel Pro-Act students.