“As an international student from Nigeria, I was exposed to a diverse workforce growing up – one that embodied a plethora of different career fields,” recalled 20-year-old Mofopefoluwa Akomolafe in the days leading up his convocation ceremony on June 21. “Although this was the nature of Nigeria’s workforce, only select career fields were respected and revered. Hospitality was not one of these fields.”
Still, Akomolafe knew from a young age that business management was in his future and so, with the help of his father, he chose Niagara College’s Honours Bachelor of Business Administration (Hospitality) program. What he ended up getting was an experience he never could have anticipated.
“During my time at Niagara College, I served in the International Department under the leadership of Maxine Semple, Laura Fakla and Sarah Scott during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing quarantine services to Niagara College’s international community,” Akomolafe said. He also served on NC’s Student Administrative Council, first as Secretary in 2019-20 and then as Chair in 2021-2022.
Although he enjoyed a lot of success, his time at Niagara College wasn’t without its challenges. Aside from the COVID-19 pandemic, as a 16-year-old on his own for the first time he struggled to find a balance between his studies and his social life.
He refocused on his studies, his volunteer work, and his career and personal development to help lay a solid foundation on which he could build his future a as high-ranking executive.
“The specific career goal I have had in mind is becoming a member of the largest hoteliers’ executive suite – more specifically, the executive position of COO,” Akomolafe said. “I feel that completing my program will help me achieve that goal.”
And he isn’t wasting any time moving toward it.
While completing his final co-op placement at the Westin Trillium House at Blue Mountain Resort near Collingwood, Akomolafe was responsible for delivering bespoke experiences for Marriott’s elite guests while catering to the broad needs of Blue Mountain’s guests.
“As this was my first opportunity to be completely immersed in the industry, I never stopped using every opportunity to better train my craft and skills in customer service,” he said. “I have learned to be more empathetic and decisive depending on the situation. Being able to master these skills has enabled me to connect with almost every type of guest based on my ability to cater to their exact needs as they occur.”
Now he’s combining what he’s learned at NC and Blue Mountain and rising through the ranks at Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, where he started as Guest Services Manager two months ago and has already been promoted to Resort Duty Manager for the summer.
“My ambition for the longest time was set on becoming a member of the largest hoteliers’ executive suite and achieving the title ‘Titan of Industry,'” he said. “This ambition still holds true. After garnering sufficient knowledge of the operations of a resort, I intend to develop a niche in the industry and transition into the field of sales and marketing with the overall intention of becoming a well-rounded hospitality professional before pursuing higher education in the form of a master’s degree in business.”
Congratulations to Akomolafe and to all graduating students this week!