Q&A with Alumna Monika Kruszka Top 30 Under 30 Recipient
Last month, Kostuch Media Limited's annual Top-30-Under-30 were announced that celebrates top young professionals of Canada's hospitality and foodservice industry.
This year's list of top young professionals featured five alumni from U of G's Gordon S. Lang School of Business & Economics, School of Hospitality, Food & Tourism Management.
In this Q&A feature, Monika Kruszka discusses how Lang/UofG helped her career launch, when she realized to pursue the industry and what she loves about it.
Find out more about the Top-30-Under-30 and previous winners.
Monika Kruszka, HAFA'19
Co-Founder and Pastry Chef
How has your education at the U of G helped you build your skills and experience to become a young leader in the HFTM industry?
"The hospitality program at the University of Guelph is top tier. It’s taught in a practical, useful manner from industry leaders and educators. From the Intro to Foods class to Cost Controls, I see myself using the content on a very regular basis. The connection to the industry that the HFTM program has is integral to this. Trends and changes in the industry are reflected in the courses we take which is vital when it comes to preparing young leaders for their careers.
The connections I made with other students, staff, and alumni is incredible too. In reality, the hospitality industry is about people. It’s our greatest asset in business. I still keep in contact with many of the people I met on day one. If it wasn’t for the extra-curriculars like the HFTMSA, the Job Expo, and countless other events held at the school, I don’t think I would have gained the friendships, jobs, or memories I have today."
When did you realize the hospitality and tourism industry is something you wanted to pursue?
"I knew I loved food from an early age. Food is celebratory. Food builds relationships. Food is love. My mom was (and is) a great cook. She always put so much effort into it, especially when people came over. She was such a gracious host. Her love was evident in her food. That’s how I learned to show people I care for them. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I knew I could build a career in it. I had a co-op opportunity when I was 16 at an Italian restaurant in Burlington. At first, I was hesitant to transfer my home cooking skills to a professional kitchen, but as soon I stepped on the line, I felt at home."
What is it about working in the hospitality industry that you love?
"Hospitality is about building relationships, having a sense of community, and making people your priority. It’s about anticipating needs, which I strive to do always. It’s also about creating value for the people through experiences. I love that we are an industry of taking care of people. I love being able to make a difference in someone’s day by creating a personalized, memorable moment. Whether it’s remembering a regular’s order or surprising someone celebrating a special occasion, the guest’s reaction can be so rewarding. I also love that every day can be different. It’s never boring. Each dinner service is an opportunity to find more things you love about the industry. And you can’t forget about your peers and coworkers. The industry attracts such wonderful people. The energy and passion they bring to the table (literally and figuratively) is infectious – you can’t help but appreciate it."