Nico Lachica already has hospitality experience. And he is a people person. Now, he is adding the knowledge base he needs to alter his career path.
The Lucena, Philippines, native is on track to graduate from the Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resource Management program at St. Thomas University in December 2020.
"I have always been an outgoing person who finds it easy to connect with others," he said. "I love speaking to people and knowing how they are doing. I like making friends, which was why I got into the hospitality industry.
"Along the way, I found out more about myself and that I especially love talking to people on a personal level. So why not help the team, as well, and work in human resources?"
Most recently, Lachica worked as an administrative assistant at Nobu Eden Roc Hotel Miami Beach. He is currently a full-time student eyeing a return to the workforce within the hospitality industry.
"I want to help departments get along with employees," he said. "I've pretty much worked in all departments of hospitality at hotels. I know what is necessary to succeed in each role in each department, which is important to know in human resources."
After moving to the United States to attend college and pursue new opportunities nine years ago, Lachica landed a job that changed his plans.
"I started off as an engineering student," he said. "My parents are both civil engineers. They instilled into me that I was going to be a civil engineer since I was a kid growing up.
"When I moved from the Philippines to Miami, the first job I had was working at a restaurant in a hotel. I loved the fast-paced environment. I have never looked back."
While Lachica continued to gain real-world experience, he graduated with an associate degree from Miami Dade College in 2015 and a bachelor's degree from Florida International University (FIU) two years later. Both degrees are in hospitality administration and management.
Lachica has worked as a housekeeping supervisor, guest services associate, front desk clerk, and food and beverage coordinator for various hotels. He enrolled at St. Thomas University in October 2018.
"I took a year off after I graduated from FIU," he said. "I had been thinking about where to go and what I wanted to do. I was thinking about staying in hospitality or going into human resources. People I know who went to STU told me the graduate program for HR was very good."
So far, MAN 700: Organizational Behavior is Lachica's favorite course in the MBA with a concentration in Human Resource Management program.
"It opened up my mind to different situations in human resources and to people, in general," he said. "The professors are so helpful. They're always within reach.
"Professor Kevin Brady is easy to talk to and open with his schedule. He always says, 'If you need anything, pick up your phone and call.' He will answer. That's very helpful."
Growing up in the Philippines, Lachica faced cultural expectations that he would become a nurse or an engineer, but he knew he had a different calling all along. He plans to attend the commencement ceremony at STU to celebrate his MBA accomplishment.
"My family and friends are excited," he said. "Since I will be the first one in the family with a master's degree, it's special."
Although Lachica will remain in the hospitality industry after graduating if he has his way, he is keeping his options open.
"I will need all of the experience I can get, so it doesn't necessarily have to be at a hotel," he said. "I would love to be a recruiter in human resources.
"I can find the right person to do the job. Sometimes it doesn't have to be the best person — it just has to be the right person. I can also tell if someone's personality will fit with the current employees in each department."
Lachica, who enjoys hiking, biking and going to the beach in his free time, is happy that he enrolled in the MBA program at STU and has the flexibility to search for a job as his graduation date approaches. His advice for potential students is to have a plan.
"You have to focus on each class," he said. "I know people are trying to finish school and get it out of the way, but you can't take too many classes you can't handle.
"Working full time and taking two or more classes takes time. Plan it out and manage your time to focus on work-life balance and school. I absolutely believe the MBA will open up opportunities for me. It's been a great experience."
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