Alumni Interview: Taking Hospitality Skills Across Sectors

on September 13 | in Alumni | by Les Roches | with No Comments

Francesca Gadaleta Giessmann1Name: Francesca Gadaleta Giessmann
Nationality: Italian/American
Campus: Les Roches Bluche, Diploma in Hotel Management, 1994
Current job: Owner and Health and Wellness Coach, The Nourishing Seed

Since graduating from Les Roches in 1994, Francesca’s path has been anything but linear. But from building up a busy career as a luxury marketing executive to finding entrepreneurial success as a health and wellness coach, it is clear that her strong hospitality background, marketing savvy and people skills have been the common thread behind it all.

After graduating from Les Roches with a degree in Hotel Management and Marketing, Francesca first worked as a Sales Manager for Swissotel Beijing.

As a 22-year-old girl working in Beijing in 1994, you had to be pretty resourceful,” she recalls.

With that same sense of resourcefulness, Francesca built up a successful career as a marketing executive working in the luxury lifestyle industry. After transferring from Beijing and working for many years at prestigious New York hotel The Drake, Francesca took on roles at The Muse Hotel and The Core Club, and she became an independent consultant in luxury hospitality and lifestyle marketing. But at the age of 34 and the peak of her career, Francesca was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer.

The diagnosis and ensuing treatment set Francesca on a path of self-reflection and a quest to understand what it means to be healthy. Although Francesca was eventually declared disease-free or, in cancer terms, NED (no evidence of disease), feeling healthy was another matter altogether.

Francesca soon learned of functional medicine — a patient-centered approach that evaluates the whole person to address the underlying causes of disease — and that changed her outlook on health and wellness. Working with a functional medicine practitioner, Francesca began to consider all the factors, such as sleep, diet, stress management and hormones, that contribute to a person’s health. Nutrition became a particular interest, and she embarked on formal studies of the subject.

Her journey brought her to the conclusion,

“Health is not merely the absence of disease. It’s a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being.”

Francesca soon found that many people were interested in what she had learned and how to change their own lives. Combining her new-found knowledge of nutrition with her natural people skills and marketing savvy, Francesca launched her own business, The Nourishing Seed, and began to coach clients on achieving their own health and wellness goals.

Together with gourmet raw food chef Manuela Scalini, Francesca also began to organize wellness retreats through The Nourishing Seed. Creating these health and wellness retreats was a natural fit for Francesca’s rich hospitality background and coaching experience. Not only did guests gain new wisdom on wellness and nutrition — they also enjoyed a comfortable, luxurious stay in pleasant surroundings. The hard work that went into organizing these retreats was worth it: “Life-transforming” is how many of Francesca’s clients describe the experience.

So far, Francesca has hosted six retreats in Barbados and Brazil, with plans to host more in Europe, the USA and South America next year. Francesca has seen demand for wellness-related holidays evolve and grow: “I have clients who, instead of going to London or Paris, have decided to spend all of their vacations on wellness activities like yoga retreats, meditation and hiking.” When it comes to choosing hotels, for example, Francesca has noted that many consumers are interested in health-related perks, such as a healthier breakfast or the opportunity to attend wellness talks. As she puts it, “Wellness is no longer seen as a punishment — it’s a privilege.”

Throughout her diverse career, Francesca has found that resourcefulness has been key to her success.

“With the resourcefulness you learn by being in hospitality — wherever you go, whatever business — you’re going to be successful.”

Reflecting on her time at Les Roches, Francesca also says that she uses what she learned every day. While Francesca’s relationship with Les Roches alumni has always been close — her roommate from Les Roches is the godmother of her son, and vice versa — it is now, more than ever, that she realizes how deep her connection is to the “Les Roches way of life.”

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