Club Med has been my real school.
The G.Os, Gentle Organizers, are the emblematic employees of Club Med. So emblematic that it gave inspiration to Dany Boon for the script of his new movie "La Vie pour de Vrai". But unlike the main character Tridan (a name you can't make up!), they don't all spend their careers in a Resort. On the contrary, many of them evolve internally or externally. So we asked two of them to tell us about their respective careers.
Gianluca Meregalli's encounter with Club Med was like the beginning of a movie script. It's 1994 and this young Italian, trained as a diver and sailor, is about to interview for a summer job at a local, less international, vacation club. However, his life took a different direction when a friend of his, also Italian, recommended that he apply to Club Med instead. "I hesitated a bit because, at the time, it wasn't very well known in Italy, but I told myself I would try anyway. A week after the interview, they called me back and said, 'If it's good for you, you're going to Caprera to do the season. I accepted and off we went," explains the man who is now in charge of the training/innovation project at the Paris 2024 Academy. Directly linked to the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, this organization allows all those who will participate in the event to have the knowledge and skills to fully contribute to the success of this event.
Although a little different, Alban Schroeder's story is surprisingly similar to Gianluca's. While preparing for the entrance exams to the major French business schools, he had a job interview at Club Med and was accepted. He then took the gamble of going to work in Serre-Chevalier as a Mini Club leader rather than continuing his studies. A winning bet since today, 14 years later, he is a Training Project Manager at the company's Paris headquarters.
Two Club Med careers and one success story
"I was really lucky to meet this friend who told me to turn to Club Med rather than a competitor," says Gianluca Meregalli. "No company allows you to have such a career starting as a sailing G.O, especially internationally. And when I talk about international, I'm not just referring to learning French and English as I did. I am talking about being confronted with multiculturalism in a concrete way. During my career, I have worked with men and women of hundreds of nationalities, from extremely different places. It started right from the beginning because in my first season, one of my colleagues was from Tahiti. For me, coming from a small Italian village near Milan, it was great". Indeed, after several seasons as a sailing G.O, then in charge of water sports in Europe, Israel and elsewhere, Gianluca was recruited by the Milan office to conduct job interviews for future G.Os who would supervise the same activities as him. But his progress did not stop there. "There was a need to roll-out training modules, so I went on a training course with the Club Med School at the time, which was based in Lyon and run at the time by Philippe Jaubert and Audrey Bonfillon, now Corporate HR Director, Social Policy and Talent Development. From there, I started to deploy training modules for Italian and Tunisian G.Os. Then, after having moved around quite a bit between Milan and Lyon, I moved on to take care of training for the whole Europe-Africa area".
For Alban Schroeder, the observation is the same. After nine years spent in Resorts, he became a sales consultant, then manager of the Club Med flagship store on the Champs-Elysées avenue. After three years in this position, his talent and skills led him to a new strategic position at the headquarters: Training Project Manager for all employees in the Europe-Africa Business Unit. "There are many opportunities to develop and evolve, as long as you have the means to do so. I started as a G.O Mini Club with a BAFA, then moved on to sales functions and finally to the world of training, an atypical career path in which the Club put its trust in me," he says, looking back over his career. His ambitions do not end there, as he hopes to become Sales Director in a few years.
A key external resume line
For his part, Gianluca Meregalli, who left Club Med in 2007, believes that his time with the company and its culture of kindness helped him in his future career. "Yes, it's a great experience on the resume. Generally speaking, everyone I've worked with has had very different careers, some in-house, some outside, but they've all benefited from this journey. For example, I have an Italian friend who now teaches marketing at major universities in London. At the time we met, he was G.O Sailing. Club Med has been my real school, it has allowed me to learn French, to develop skills, to create relationships easily, to speak in public, which allows me today to give conferences in front of dozens of people in a language that is not my own. These are many skills that I have acquired and been able to use throughout my career," Gianluca recalls. "This is what we call 'A life-changing experience'."
The happiness of life in Resorts
Another thing Alban and Gianluca have in common is that they both loved their years in Resorts. "I was already open-minded, but it was a catalyst for my personality. People often caricature this "kind side" of the G.O; but in reality, this attention to others, to clients, to colleagues, to everyone, is not just a word, it is a real state of mind that drives us. Even afterwards, in the offices, it was like a big village with G.Os, everyone exchanged easily, it created an extraordinary work atmosphere that you don't find in all companies", says Gianluca. "I think what I missed the most when I arrived at the headquarters was the easy access to infrastructures for entertainment activities. Because even if you work a lot, everything is easy in Resorts, you meet a lot of new people, you live new experiences, you party, you do sports all the time. These are things that are much more complicated when you have a more normal life. And then there's the fact of interacting and managing people who come from all over the world, that's really incredible," adds Alban Schroeder, who also remembers an anecdote that illustrates particularly well the kindness in the daily life of teams. "Just thinking about it gives me chills. It was in 2016, I was working at the Gregolimano Resort as Mini Club Manager. At the time, the Chef de Village secretly announced to me that Camille Perazio, who is now a Meetings & Events Key Account Manager, was going to become Chef de Village as well and so he asked me to organize a party to celebrate the news. At the end of a show, we made sure that she was alone on stage, we all hid and we made her parents and friends come on stage with her. It was a very emotional moment that we were able to share with the G.Ms. What moved me the most is that she still talks about it today with a lot of emotion, as a defining moment of her life. Things like this, we do every day for the G.Ms but we can also do it for our teams."
And this G.O life is available to everyone. "Every year, we recruit very different profiles for our Resorts," says Audrey Bonfillon, who herself joined as a psychologist during her internship and has since become Corporate HR Director, Social Policy and Talent Development at Club Med. She continues: "Our Resort employees are provided with the same quality of food, laundry and lodging at Club Med, and have access to all the activities. So whoever is smarter can save a lot of money. This allows many G.Os to invest in real estate when they leave. So, if you enjoy being in contact with others and believe in kindness as a core value, you know what you have to do. "I promise you that whether it's for one season or ten, it will be an extraordinary experience," concludes Anne Browaeys, CEO of Markets Europe Africa.