Ask BCIT Alumni: Colleen Smith, Event Sales and Services Manager, Fairmont Pacific Rim

Vancouverites are ready to pack their bags for their next summer vacation after more than two years of travel restrictions brought about by the pandemic. That is why tourism is a booming industry at the moment. This is especially prominent when we chatted with BCIT Tourism alumnae, Colleen Smith, Event Sales and Services Manager at the Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver.

Colleen graduated in 2013 with a Diploma in Marketing ManagementTourism Option at BCIT. Her internship at Fairmont began during the final year of her diploma, and she worked her way up to Manager after more than eight years in the company. She shared her early career journey at BCIT and gave a glimpse of a few of the many changes in her industry, events and tourism.

What made you decide to come to BCIT for post-secondary education?

I loved that BCIT was an accelerated program with instructors who have worked in the industry where I wanted to join. This gave all the students a great window into what a career in hospitality would look like, especially sharing real-life examples in the classroom.

What valuable skills did you gain from your Tourism Diploma at BCIT?

Time management was an essential skill I took away from my time at BCIT. Due to the heavy course load and balancing multiple projects at once, you learn very quickly how to prioritize what is important and work efficiently while still delivering high-quality work.

How did you end up working at the Fairmont Pacific Rim?

I was given the opportunity to start my career at Fairmont Pacific Rim through the Practicum portion of the Marketing Management Tourism Program at BCIT. I completed my 2-month practicum position in our Events Department and was hired full-time as a Coordinator for the Events Team and have been with the hotel ever since. It was such an incredible opportunity that launch my career in the industry.

What is your favourite aspect of your job or current role?

My favourite part of my job is the people and team I get to work with every day. Fairmont Pacific Rim is a Forbes 5 Star, AAA 5 Diamond rated property, so the standards are high, and the team is passionate about exceeding our guests’ and clients’ expectations. It is an inspiring place to work, full of driven colleagues who continue to push the envelope.

What is tourism’s future, and why is this an excellent time for students in this industry?

Tourism is coming back bigger than ever! There is so much pent-up demand and so many new opportunities in the industry; it is a great time to join as the business continues to grow and more and more staff are needed to meet the growing demand.

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About Ask BCIT Alumni Series

Ask BCIT Alumni Series features successful BCIT School of Business + Media grads in their chosen field and industry. The Series asks about their professional journey, career advice, and provides insights about their line of work to help guide and inspire fellow BCIT grads and students. Through their unique experience, leadership perspective, and involvement in the community, Ask BCIT Alumni Series provides an avenue to highlight and share messages and stories from BCIT alumni.

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