Pierre-Yves Le Gal, who graduated from Vatel in Paris in 2008 and Vatel in Los Angeles in 2009, believes that “our network is a priceless asset.”
To illustrate this, a Vatelien advised him to enroll in Vatel when he was doing his internship for his second year of business school. And a Vatel alumnus will also be the first person hired by the consulting company, Arzel Management, which he founded in 2012. He’s also launching a company in Morocco with another Vatel alumnus.
Hi Pierre-Yves. After graduating from high school you enrolled in a general business school and then started Vatel in Paris in 2006. You did your MBA in Vatel in Los Angeles in 2008. Could you tell us what made you want to attend Vatel?
I’ve always been fascinated by the hospitality industry. I was quite young when I had my first summer jobs in a restaurant and I always wanted to continue working in this field. But I was still hesitant about my career and I enrolled in a general business school in Nantes.
The turning point came in my second year of school when I did two consecutive internships in Hebel Traiteur [Hebel Catering] in Nantes. I discovered the world of events management with Bertrand Eloud, who was my supervisor and who encouraged me to continue my education with management training in the hospitality and catering industries. This internship really opened my eyes: it was great to manage people in such a unique field. Once I had my bachelor’s degree in marketing, I went to Vatel.
What do you remember about Vatel?
Vatel brought me a complementary balance in my skills. A “hands-on” vision with a managerial and human approach focused on precise and exacting work, being exemplary and modernization of our industry.
I enrolled in Vatel in Los Angeles the very first year the MBA degree began. We were the first class to graduate and I was our class Valedictorian. For me, this global experience is what really helped me out when I was starting off my professional life.
For example, when I had just turned 22 and my English was not the greatest, my supervisor had no qualms about telling me: “Buddy!” Here’s your team, here is the restaurant, here are the keys; you’re closing tonight!” Sometimes I feel that you have to assume without really being capable of doing it. You just have to say to yourself, ‘I’ll do everything possible and everything will be all right.’ It was stressful though.
In addition to that, from an academic point of view, two instructors in Vatel in Los Angeles were able to put us completely at ease and make us want to read things which, from a coaching and managerial point of view, were my guiding lights in everything I needed to fully understand. A sentence from Marcus Buckingham’s book ‘The One Thing You Need to Know’ is still on my office door: ‘Find out what is unique in your people and capitalize on it!’
What made you want to be an entrepreneur?
I was lucky to be able to climb the corporate ladder quite quickly. When I was 23 I was hired as the Restaurant Manager in the Ciel de Paris restaurant and was also the youngest Hotel Manager in Morocco when I headed the four-star Murano Resort Marrakesh at the age of 25.
Frankly all of this was only possible because of my vast on-hands experience, and hard work in putting in place ‘my’ management and administration methods in the hotel and restaurant.
After I finished working in Morocco, the conclusion was easy to make: my ‘toolbox’ was full and I wanted to direct my own company. So I decided to work for myself. I was finally able to do what I love doing and what I had always dreamed of doing: consulting. Last year I had the opportunity to work with the Christophe Leroy Group, based in Saint-Tropez, which also manages facilities in the Caribbean islands, the USA and in Morocco. In charge of operational facility management, putting in place group standards and procedures, opening new hotels and organizing events (in particular the Saint-Tropez White Night Party which I was responsible for), I was able to be a group “free electron” consultant.
This freedom of action, the possibility I have distancing myself as well as the use of my own management tools is truly a luxury that I now have given myself, with the creation of my own consulting company, Arzel Management.