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AlumniWhere are they now? From student to head sommelier

In 2018, Homi Chien, then a student at Hotel Institute Montreux, won the trip of a lifetime to Reims (France) for a three-day tour of the Champagne region. We connected with her to see where life had taken her since then.

Then: A rich student experience at Hotel Institute Montreux

I was so excited and proud to have the opportunity to participate in the Champagne tour back in 2018. Before the trip, I was already sure about what career I wanted to pursue. In fact, I received my first sommelier offer on the way to France, on the train, right before taking part in a blind tasting with everybody! So, I guess it was destiny.

It’s very important to discover your passion in life and to pursue what you want and like to do. Above all, it is important to try and to persevere. If I hadn’t chosen to attend the WSET Level 2 class (qualification of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust), I wouldn’t have realized I was passionate about wine. It is thanks to the lecturers at HIM, that I decided to challenge myself. Additionally, I’ve built up many connections thanks to this position, and this is something very valuable for me.

When I was a student at Hotel Institute Montreux (HIM), I not only took part in lots of different school activities, but also helped to establish many new clubs and events, for example, forming the very first HIM school band and holding the very first concert in HIM. It was activities like these that drove me to stand for the position of Vice President in the Student Ambassador Forum (SAF).

SHMS Alumni Homi Chien


Now: Landing my dream job

I got my first offer as a Sommelier at the Shangri-La in Shanghai, China. In fact, I had already gained a lot of knowledge of the wine industry when I joined the Management Training program at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center, in the USA. One and a half years later, I’m a head sommelier!

Nevertheless, I continue to gather as much knowledge as I can and keep learning about wine-related programs, when possible. I also participate in blind tasting seminars and have been lucky enough to be invited to attend dinner galas from several different wineries. I would like to continue tasting, learning, visiting more wineries if possible, and honing my knowledge and skills. I would love to open my own store one day and, who knows, perhaps import my own favorite wines in the future!  

Back in 2018, my five-year goal was to become head sommelier. Although there are still so many things I could have done back in 2018, I would tell my former self, “Thank you and great job!” because for me, if you never try, you will never know.


Homi Chien graduated from Hotel Institute Montreux in 2019 with a Master’s in International Business in Hospitality Management and Finance. She is now Head Sommelier at the Hakkushan Group in Shanghai, China. Connect with her on LinkedIn!


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