PORTSMOUTH – Amadeus is one of the world’s leading global advanced technology solutions provider to the travel and tourism industry, with 14,000 employees worldwide. The hospitality division of Amadeus (formerly Newmarket International) is headquartered in Portsmouth.
When Amadeus seeks to recruit new employees for its customer support center in New Hampshire, Gillian Tierney, Amadeus’s vice president for human resources, doesn’t have to look very far. She doesn’t even need to dial an area code when she recruits by phone.
The company, which employs about 300 people at the Pease International Tradeport, routinely hires graduates of Great Bay Community College’s information systems technology and Computer Technologies program. “They have the technical skills that we need, and they’re always well-qualified to fill the entry-level customer support positions,” Tierney said. “They also have all the soft skills that we’re looking for in our workplace. They’re good communicators, they get along well with other people and they think well on their feet.”
The relationship between the college and the company has evolved to the point that Amadeus now views Great Bay as a strategic partner. Great Bay is integral to Amadeus’ success in New Hampshire, Tierney said. “As Amadeus continues to grow, Great Bay graduates form a critical part of its high-skill workforce,” she said. Great Bay students are ready to start working as soon as they arrive at Amadeus, and many have been promoted to other areas of the business, she added.
Amadeus currently employs 13 Great Bay graduates, she said. A lot of Great Bay graduates begin working in customer support, which involves learning the company’s software so they can help customers use it more effectively and solve problems. That’s where their soft skills come into play. It’s important that they know the software inside and out, but it’s just as important to be able to talk about in a way that customers can understand so they get the most out of it, Tierney said.
Employees who succeed in customer support often are promoted into software development, quality assurance, information technology, and other departments.
The Great Bay-Amadeus relationship goes deep in both directions. Great Bay provides an educated workforce of local people with relevant skills. At the same time, Amadeus works with the college to refine the curriculum of the computer science and information technology programs, consulting with faculty to ensure it covers skills needed in the industry and within the company.
The partnership also includes internships and job shadow opportunities for Great Bay IST and Computer Technology students, who visit Amadeus as part of their Essential Skills for College Success class. Tierney talks with them about the skills needed for success and advancement in the workplace, and gives them a tour of the building. Tierney has helped evaluate students’ final projects in their Portfolio Preparation and Presentation class, and the company also contributes to college for raising money for scholarships.
Behnke said he recommends students to Amadeus because the company’s work ethic and professional culture are outstanding. The company consistently ranks among the top 5 companies to work for in New Hampshire. Students who hire on there are often quickly promoted, and they enjoy working there.
“Students who have taken jobs there come back excited about how the company treats them,” Behnke said. “Amadeus has done a bit of community outreach and so they are socially committed. For example, we run a Tech Nite at the college. It is a voluntary event where (technology and science) professors bring in students from lower grades and do activities. Amadeus has offered to be our corporate sponsor supporting the event by bringing in pizza and drinks.”
Amadeus views its support of Great Bay as an investment in its own future, Tierney said, because the company hires so many Great Bay graduates.
Mike Giustino arrived at Amadeus as an information technology intern. After working as an intern, he was offered a positon in customer support where he worked with customers to help them get the most from the software, and was hired full time within four months. He’s been with Amadeus more than four years, and now works in information technology.
He was employed in the field doing contract work when he enrolled at Great Bay to sharpen his skills. He wanted to increase his base of knowledge and expand his contacts. Behnke helped him realize the importance of team work, communication and leadership. “Kevin teaches the technical skills, but he also teaches you about the real-world applications where you’re going to use those skills.”
Giustino left Great Bay with a certificate in information systems technology. He considered taking more classes to earn an associate’s degree or perhaps transfer to another school to earn a bachelor’s degree. But his goal was getting a good job, and that happened right away at Amadeus.
“It was the best decision I made,” said Giustino, 42. “I went to Great Bay to improve my skills, and I got an internship that led to a job that I love.”
Shawn O’Hearn, 30, joined Amadeus five years ago. He earned a liberal arts associate’s degree from Great Bay in 2009 and was working in a local bank when he “came back to do the tech program” at Great Bay. He was taking classes when Behnke alerted him to a job opportunity in customer support at Amadeus. The job worked out, and he’s been promoted three times since.
He is taking classes toward his bachelor’s degree at Granite State College in Concord.
O’Hearn credits Great Bay for helping him see the world through a wider lens. He had never traveled before enrolling at Great Bay, but his involvement with the school’s history club enabled him to travel across the United States. He’s now deeply involved in one of the world’s leading travel technology companies.
“Great Bay gave me the ability to branch out and try things I might not otherwise have done,” he said.