Nathalie Abinader graduated in 2019 with an MS in Hospitality Industry Studies with a concentration in Hotel Finance from the Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality. She is currently a Project Manager of the Hospitality, Sports & Leisure sector at Turner & Townsend, which specializes in project management, cost management and consulting across different sectors.
What has your journey been like after graduating NYU?
Even though life has not gone according to my “master post-graduation plan”, my journey after graduating NYU has been better than I could have ever asked for. After graduation, I was hired full time at Turner & Townsend as a Project Manager in their New York office after having interned at the company for four months while pursuing my degree at NYU. While the pandemic hit hard the hospitality industry, we have had to navigate through the challenges, working with our clients to overcome the uncertainty and risk of the environment and the outlook of the industry. We have assisted clients in reprograming their capital expenditure programs but also had to figure out solutions and new ways of keeping construction and renovations sites safe and productive.
Can you talk about your current role at Turner & Townsend?
As a Project Manager at Turner & Townsend, I mainly act as the cost management lead for hospitality projects in North America. My role entails bringing each hotel renovation project from conceptualization to execution by managing schedules, budgets, cost estimates, design approvals and compliance requirements. From the world’s largest brands to boutique hotels, I work with brands, owners and developers to bring an idea or concept to life while delivering independent recommendations using data-driven insights to maximize their return on investment.
What are you passionate about in the work that you do?
Being passionate about my work is what gets me up in the morning. What I like most about the work that I do is that it is always changing, always evolving, and I get front row seats watching the process of a conceptual design grow into a nationwide business in the tourism and hospitality industry. Project turnover is high, so I am always involved in simultaneous projects which keeps things interesting but also challenging, as not all projects are going through the same phases at the same time.
In what ways has your NYU experience had an impact on your career and shaped who you are today?
When I started out in the professional world, I was on a completely different path that I am today. I originally obtained a degree in computer engineering and worked in a software company for about three years before shifting careers. The decision to attend NYU to pursue a degree in hospitality was definitely not an easy one. I threw myself in the journey without knowing what the outcome would be, but trusting things will work out just because they have to. Looking back, I could not have asked for a better experience because I got everything I wished for. NYU has opened so many doors for me, I was lucky enough to meet amazing people and industry professionals that have inspired me and encouraged me to follow my passion. From fireside chats, to lecturer series and conferences, I remember not missing a single one of them. I used to look forward going to class every day, as the courses I took were very insightful and much more applied than I had expected them to be. I had amazing professors to thank for that. Even though I took a small detour at the start of my career and got a different kind of experience, that has only led me back to my original goal as I am confident now in what I am passionate about and the career I want to pursue. I like to think I have come a long way from where I started.
What career advice would you give to NYU students?
I think one of the most valuable pieces of advice I could give to an NYU student is that no dreams are big enough if you have the courage to pursue them. Courage is not about the lack of fear of failure. It is about being afraid but showing up anyway. So show up, follow your passion, be bold in your endeavors, put in the work, and enjoy every single minute of it.