Sophia Darling, Executive Meeting Manager at Fairmont Royal York, always knew a career in hospitality was the right path for her. But with so many areas of hospitality to work in, Sophia wasn’t always sure what area to focus on.
After working in food and beverage, Sophia believed she should move into culinary as a pastry chef. “But after exploring this idea, I realized that my true passion was working with people rather than cakes!” she laughs.
While navigating the Fleming College website, Sophia discovered the Hotel and Restaurant Management program and realized it was a great fit for her. “I saw that the classes offered ranged from Business and Accounting, to Travel and Tourism, Revenue and Hotel Management, as well as Food Service and Restaurant Operations,” she explains. “The diversity of the classes piqued my interest and I decided to enrol.”
Sophia said Fleming helped prepare her for a career in the industry. As Executive Meeting Manager at Fairmont Royal York, Sophia said she uses skills from Fleming’s Accounting course to provide estimates to clients, knowledge from Revenue Management to quote meeting space prices, and often uses skills developed through sales and client relationships discussions at Fleming College.
“Fleming College allowed me to learn about so many different fields of the hospitality industry,” said Sophia. “I think this helped me understand how multi-faceted this industry is and the benefit of having experience across different industry segments. Through the interactions with my classmates and professors, I also learned the importance of developing relationships and learning from the people around you – group work doesn’t stop when you graduate. You will always have to work with others as a team, and success truly comes from collaboration!”
As a Fleming College student, Sophia participated in the Student Work Experience Program and worked at Fairmont Banff Springs during the summer of 2014. After graduating from Fleming College in 2015, she continued her education at the University of Guelph through Fleming Education Pathways and earned her Bachelor of Commerce Honours in two years.
“Fleming College truly provided the hands-on learning experience that helped me transition into university,” said Sophia. “I learned so much from my fellow classmates and from my program coordinator, Jennifer Rishor. As a student navigating my education and career path, I was fortunate to have Jennifer as such a big proponent to the growth and development of not only myself, but of all of the students in our program!”
Sophia continued to grow her career with Fairmont. She participated in the SUMMIT Leadership Development Program – Food & Beverage Management from 2017 to 2018, and worked as Catering Sales Coordinator, Catering Sales Manager, and is now the Executive Meeting Manager.
Sophia’s advice to current and prospective students interested in this industry is to get involved and network. “You never know who you will come across or work with in your career after graduating,” she said. “Learn as much as you can about all of the different areas of this industry—the more experience you have, the more of an asset you will be!”