Mauritian-born graduate Estelle Kim Lim found her true vocation a decade on from graduating, and her career took a deeply satisfying about turn.
Tourism has always been the biggest economic driver for the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius, with its famed beaches, lagoons and reefs.
Estelle Kim Lim chose hotel management as her field of study while at high school, as she knew there would always be job opportunities after her studies. Her ultimate objective was as General Manager of one of the Mauritian resorts.
‘At the time, most General Managers were expatriates and I wanted to demonstrate that Mauritians were capable of holding high-ranking position and being good leaders’, she says.
At ICHM from 2001 - 2004, Estelle was awarded Dux of 1st and 2nd Years and her placements were at Hayman Island Resort, Queensland and Solitaire Luxury Lodge, New Zealand. She was exempt from a 3rd placement as she was bilingual in English and French.
A move to Melbourne and positions at Medina Apartments, Hotel Charsfield and Somerset Gordon Place (while waiting for a permanent resident visa) followed, before she took on more senior positions at InterContinental Hotels Group, the Mint Group and Novotel Melbourne on Collins.
‘My experience at InterContinental Hotels Group (2006-2008) was particularly exceptional. I was selected as a corporate management trainee (out of 300 candidates) for three hotels - Crowne Plaza Melbourne, Holiday Inn Melbourne and Holiday Inn Melbourne airport. I was then employed as the group’s Cluster Business Development Executive for Corporateand Events and helped the team open the InterContinental Melbourne in 2008.
In 2011, after 10 years of study and work in the industry, Estelle made the move to Europe with her best friend; the pair planning to travel and work.
‘I was 28 and sensed a turning point as I looked to pursue a more humanitarian-centred career to not only ‘find’ myself as a person, but also to put my knowledge and skills to good use for the benefit of others’, she says.
She took some time off for reflection with a religious community she had been introduced to in France, the catholic Chemin Neuf Community. She went on to volunteer in a small hotel in Jerusalem owned by the community, helping the nuns run the hotel, in particular, in areas such as sales and marketing, management and human resources. After six months she returned to France as a Youth Director for the community and managed events all over the country.
In Oct 2013, she returned to Mauritius and co-founded Love Bridge, a non-government organisation (NGO) that aims to alleviate poverty in Mauritius. She was the project manager for two years and today this NGO is nation wide and subsidised by the Mauritian Government.
Estelle then took up a job offer with the Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury, running, as Director of Operations, their newly created young adults community in London, arriving in the United Kingdom in June 2015.
There, she met her husband-to-be, Foucauld, and after marrying in Mauritius in 2017 the pair settled in Lyon, France.
She is now with Clubhouse France in the Lyon area, an international NGO supporting people with severe mental illnesses in their social and professional rehabilitation, saying ‘The recruiting system is quite different in Lyon and the best way of finding a job - which comes as no surprise - is through networking, networking, networking! I became a volunteer with major NGOs and met many people, finding out about the position at Clubhouse Lyon through a contact. I applied and got the job! The role is well rounded and suited to multi-skilling, mainly acquired through my studies at ICHM and my first work experiences.’
‘I find it satisfying to work for an NGO with a mission I believe in, as I am more in sync with how I want to live as a person and what I can give back to society. I am fulfilled in my role and every day when I wake up, I want to go to work’, she says.
Clubhouse International is located in 30 countries with its head office in New York. Estelle’s ambition is to become a director in the next couple of years.
‘Clubhouses are also in Australia, so there is a thought to run a Clubhouse there as we would like to move to Australia at some point.’
Among highlights of Estelle’s working life to date:
• Empowering families in Mauritius to get their lives back on track and winning the prize for the best socio-economic development project with Barclays Bank!
• Working for and with the Archbishop of Canterbury and living in his palace in London (Lambeth Palace)
• Seeing Queen Elizabeth II at an event at Westminster Abbey.