October 31, 2019

Tisch Center alumni spotlight: Xi (Sienna) Yang

Xi (Sienna) Yang graduated with an MS degree in Hospitality Industry Studies in 2015. She currently works as a Director of Revenue Management at Highgate, an industry-leading investor and manager of hospitality assets. In this post, she reflects on her career path and her time at the Tisch Center of Hospitality.

How did your career journey lead you to working at your current role at Highgate?

My career journey started at Walt Disney World in 2012. I was an undergraduate student in China, and I did an exchange program with Walt Disney World in Florida. That is where my interest in the hospitality industry started. After seeing the management of one of the top companies in this industry, I decided to apply for a hospitality program and came across NYU’s program. I always knew I wanted to study in an industry-oriented school and the Tisch Center’s program really spoke to me. At NYU, I landed my first internship through a career fair. After this first internship, I was working part-time at a hotel in Koreatown, a position I got through an alumni referral. Another alumnus reached out to me and asked if I was interested in a revenue management position with Highgate Hotels after I graduated from NYU. I then started my journey with Highgate. I was an analyst with Highgate for about two years, where I was later promoted to Director of Revenue Management.

Can you share more about your current role at Highgate?

As Director of Revenue Management, my main priority is to price the hotel. I analyze the hotel's historical data, forecast market trends, and implement revenue management strategies and processes to optimize and maximize topline revenue. I also work closely with the sales team to get group and corporate business from the city and across the world.

What experience and skills do you think are necessary to be able to succeed in the hospitality industry?

In terms of my position as Revenue Director, there are two types of skills required: hard skills and soft skills. For hard skills, you have to possess strong analytical skills and attention to detail. Communication skills are also critical as there is a lot of partnering involved with the sales, operations, and finance departments. As for soft skills, you need to know how to present in front of people and run your weekly and monthly revenue meetings. You have to be able to answer questions confidently.

Can you share advice for undergraduate students looking to get into the industry?

Try to get your first internship as early as possible. Wasserman’s Career Center is beneficial. As a student at NYU, I went to Wasserman frequently to get my resume reviewed. Once you have your resume ready, reach out to people, and attend as many events. Network a lot. I landed my first internship through a career fair, but my other jobs were all referrals by alumni from NYU. Apart from building a professional resume, what's even more important is to build a life resume, which includes improving mindset, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, keeping long-lasting relationships, and giving back to the community. Building a professional resume will make you shine, but building a life resume will make you unstoppable.

How has your NYU experience shaped and impacted your career?

The professors and networking. In SPS, all the professors are industry professionals, so they have the most up to date knowledge in the industry and can be the go-to person when you need to seek out mentorship. As for networking, alumni are critical. I feel very grateful that all alumni who have offered valuable suggestions and advice to me and have helped me along the way.

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