Alumni interview with Michelle Ponty

All Categories, Inside CBS   -  16. July 2019

Is it because of her childhood in Bremen (Northern Germany)? Our graduate Michelle Ponty now works as an Inventory Manager at nicko cruises Schiffsreisen, one of the leading river cruise operators in Europe. She made her first steps into the tourism industry with her master’s degree in International Tourism Management, which she graduated with top marks last year.

CBS: Why did you apply to study International Tourism Management at our campus?

Michelle Ponty: I came to CBS via detours. I wanted to study a wide range of management studies in a Bachelor’s degree and decided on “International Business Management” in Holland. After my graduation, however, I was drawn to tourism and applied to the CBS. It was particularly important to me that the course of studies combined many business and tourism subjects, so that I could expand my knowledge from the Bachelor’s programme.

CBS: What did you like best about studying at CBS?

Michelle Ponty: Compared to my first degree, I particularly liked the family-like atmosphere at CBS.

CBS: What does a typical working day look like for you today?

Michelle Ponty: There is actually no typical everyday life. Each of my days begins and ends differently. I am the manager of my own three ships and am responsible for the utilization of group allotments. I decide whether and where we allocate travel agency partners group contingents on one of our ships. That depends on how well the date is already booked, and whether other partners may already have a group allotment on this desired date. If an allotment is allocated, I create the contracts, decide which cabin distribution they receive and look after the partners afterwards in sales. Here I have to decide whether the allotment can be increased or minimized in case of high demand. I check the advertising of the partners, answer any questions about the trip and send out invoices for booked cabins at the end.

Of course there is a lot of day-to-day business. Especially in the river cruise industry we struggle from time to time with high and low tides on the rivers, which is why ships must be re-routed or passengers must be transported differently. In these situations, we take care of informing the group partners.

We are also the link between the ship and the office. We register all travel data of our customers, e.g. who sleeps in which cabin, who is not allowed to eat which food, who brings a rollator, who arrives by public transport via us or who has organized his own journey.

In addition to the travel groups, we also take care of charter bookings, i.e. the partners who book a complete ship for their travel group. There are many special requests at short notice, which must always be discussed with our Operations/Excursions department, as well as with the shipping companies and caterers.

Of course we also go to trade fairs and road shows and read catalogues and advertising material from our marketing department. We also work closely with the external sales managers and our internal sales and reservations department. In other words, every day is different for me and you should be very flexible to work as an Inventory Manager.

CBS: What do you like about your work?

Michelle Ponty: We offer very exciting river cruises and expedition cruises, especially with our new ocean-going vessel this year. I learn new things every day and have a lot of responsibility in a great team!

CBS: Which typical cliché about your current position does not apply?

Michelle Ponty: Outsiders often think that the work is very monotonous and as a reservation department for groups you spend a lot of time on the phone. That’s definitely not the case. We have a huge number of daily tasks and often have to react quickly depending on what’s going on. So it’s by no means boring and monotonous!

CBS: What are your career plans for the next few years?

Michelle Ponty: I’m just at the beginning. Since I haven’t worked much in the tourism industry so far, I want to gain as much experience and knowledge as possible first. Surely, I can imagine to switch departments at some point to broaden my horizons. I could also imagine continuing to work in the cruise industry in the future. I would be attracted to destination marketing, for example, or to a position with tour operators for excursions. But here I am looking very far into the future. I am currently very happy and satisfied with my area of responsibility.

CBS: How did your studies at CBS prepare you for your current position?

Michelle Ponty: Working with people from all over the world is one of the things that best prepared me for the world of work. To find my way in a heterogeneous group, to contribute my share to the task and to shine as a team – I also learned all that at CBS.

CBS: What advice would you give to prospective students?

Michelle Ponty: Ask yourself before you take a job: Is that what I burn for? Will I enjoy doing my job? If you can’t imagine it, you shouldn’t take the job. I have done very well with this method and have now found a company with which I want to grow together!

CBS: Thank you very much for the interview!

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