Making a Difference

Trent SelbredeImagine being able to show your company that you saved or brought in millions in revenue. The Hospitality, Tourism and Management (HTM) Master’s program projects at San Diego State University have already led to some of its students advancing their careers and companies after only a few months into the program.

The HTM program is not for the closed-minded individual or a person only looking for a piece of paper (i.e., a degree) for their resume. If you’re able to keep an open mind and are willing to accept the realities of today’s HTM landscape and your company’s operations, you can make a difference in both.

Conveying real-life applicability of the instruction is one of the program’s highlights. HTM student and Marriott General Manager Trent Selbrede adds, “I wasn’t interested in ‘just going to school’ or textbook learning. A majority of what I have learned, I can instantly translate back to my career and real life. Being able to make a difference in my hotels directly from the classes provides value for me personally and my company. The on-the-job applicability is a great feature of the program.”

The first HTM cohort is diverse as far as careers, which allows for valuable feedback from outside perspectives. “I have garnered many excellent ideas from my classmates and have forged longterm friendships as a result of this program. It has also helped me discover how to be a better leader. I have used this capacity to encourage reflection and growth among my hotel leadership team. We have spent more time defining what success looks like and what we need to do to get there,”says Selbrede.

The program is also unique. One example is the mentor opportunities. HTM mentors have connections and life experiences that provide great insight into the challenges HTM students and professionals face today. “The three aspects for me that make this program unique are the self-assessment and development plans, the in-company project, and the mentor program. There is also the huge benefit of the capstone (in-company project). I am able to dream up my own project and experiment right in my own operation. Just through this project, one of my hotels is likely to gain $100-$200k annually in revenue. This would mean many millions in revenue across the company or brand,” says Selbrede.

The hybrid (classroom and online) option is another unique aspect. Selbrede adds, “The only way this would work for me – being in hospitality – is that it’s a hybrid program. I like the in-person nature of knowing my classmates, but there is no way I could be in a classroom two or three times a week at this point in my life. The online aspect allows me to balance family, work, and school. There are definitely due dates, and one must put in the time, but being able to complete most items on my schedule works really well. It is not easy, but it is not overwhelming.”