Convention Center Executive Shares Experience in the Master’s in Hospitality & Tourism Management (HTM) Program

 

Masters in HTM Brad Gessner

Brad Gessner

Brad Gessner joined the first cohort of the Master of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM) degree program in August 2012. As the most senior professional in the class, Brad’s career growth since completing the program demonstrates that it’s never too late to go back to school. While his initial goal was to enroll in the HTM degree program as a springboard to teaching, Brad was able to utilize his learnings and experience to become the Senior Vice President of Convention Centers for AEG. Read more about Brad’s experience going back to school at the age of 58 and how he utilized the knowledge he gained from his Master of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management degree at San Diego State University.


How did you learn about this degree program?

I had considered master’s programs throughout my career, including MBA’s and never found one that would allow me to work full time and have time with my family. I had almost given up on the idea when I learned about the launch of this program. It seemed like a perfect fit, and it was.

What is your current position?

I’m Senior Vice President for Convention Centers for AEG Facilities. AEG Facilities, based in Los Angeles, owns, operates, or manages over 100 convention centers, arenas, stadiums, and theaters worldwide. Up until a year ago, I was also the General Manager of the LA Convention Center for five years. We successfully transitioned the LA Convention Center from public sector management (City of Los Angeles) to private sector management. As we were growing our convention center business, I moved to a regional role and now oversee convention centers in Hawaii, Los Angeles, Puerto Rico, and Palm Springs.

What was it like going back to school and attending classes online?

There were so many things that surprised me as a mature learner. The best part was that you start the program with a week where you get to know the cohort and the professors. This intensive week spending time together established strong relationships. It’s a unique and important aspect of the program. The online format allows you to listen to the lectures on your schedule and complete the assignments with easy access. I could email instructors and get a quick response and often just pick up the phone to call them. They were always available; I felt like I was their only student. It was truly a personalized program.  If there was something I was struggling with in a lecture or assignment, I could easily get my questions answered and get back on track. For professionals with established careers in the industry, the flexible online format is a much better way to learn.

Any advice for students considering a Master of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management?

The relationships that you’ll develop through the program and the knowledge you’ll attain will be invaluable. Wherever you are in your career, you will be able to apply what you learn in the master’s program every day as you continue to grow professionally.

Learn more about the Master of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management degree offered through the College of Extended Studies (CES) at San Diego State University.