It was the glamour of the world’s top hotels that first attracted Bernie William Johnson to the hospitality industry. Now with over 15 years’ experience working everywhere from luxury resorts to the high seas, he’s landed at Vancouver’s most dazzling establishment of all. Bernie shares more about his exciting career:
How did you choose your profession?
I didn’t—it found me. A friend was in the program, and I had just returned from a year of travelling. I was part way through an education degree, but the allure of glamourous hotels was overwhelming. I enrolled in Hospitality Management at VCC because my friend raved about the program.
What was it about the program at VCC that you found so compelling?
The content was extremely interesting, relevant and practical—at the end of my second year we ran a simulated hotel with all the day to day challenges that are regularly encountered. My instructors were reputed hospitality professionals from within the industry. Their stories, advice and experiences were firsthand, and that made a difference. I found that when applying for jobs, my time at VCC was a conversation point as general managers and human resource directors knew many of my instructors from within the industry.
I got my first hotel job while still at school. I worked front desk at a four star hotel while going to school and was able to graduate without student loans. Taking a job in a hotel while going to school allowed me practical learning opportunities which helped in my studies. It was also that practical knowledge that set me up for success as a hospitality professional!
What have you done since graduating in 1999?
I spent six years in the rooms division of a luxury hotel before moving to the high seas. I spent over six years working for various cruise lines, and was promoted through the ranks to become a human resources manager.
In 2010 I came back to Vancouver and worked as a human resources manager recruiting for the opening and closing ceremonies for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. Since then, I have been at the Metropolitan Hotel, the River Rock Casino Resort, the Hastings Racecourse and currently the Shangri-La Hotel, the only five diamond hotel in Vancouver.
What would you say are the top reasons to choose hospitality management at VCC?
Reputation, cost, location, core content and quality of instructors.