Hospitality school: a class act

Hospitality schools in the UAE and China have joined forces with an internationally recognised Swiss institution to offer industry training that is emerging as an educational benchmark across the entire commercial world

Take the expertise of a Swiss hotel school whose students are in demand in all areas of industry, not just hospitality. Link this with a global network of hospitality schools including one in Dubai and another in Beijing. The result: a gold-standard hotel industry training programme.

But if you think all of the graduates from these schools end up in the hotel industry, think again. Less than half the students of the prestigious Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) in Switzerland enter the hotel business. This is not because they fail to find jobs after graduating. Far from it; they are so good they are increasingly snapped up by other industries.

Culture of hospitality

Founded in 1893, EHL is the oldest and one of the most respected hotel schools in the world. From the outset its approach emphasises not only the technique but also the culture of hospitality.

“This is our signature. Our philosophy of learning combines the mastery of the arts and sciences of hospitality management,” says Linda Papasidero, Client Coordinator at Lausanne Hospitality Consulting (LHC), EHL’s consulting and executive education division. According to Papasidero the ‘science’ part is learning practical things like how to set a table and wash up properly – these are the basics. The ‘arts’ deals with the students’ mindset, how to interact with people, the theory of management skills, human resources and so on. It is this focus on service that is relevant to many employers and explains why more than 50 per cent of graduates end up working in service-related or other industries. “Our students simply know how to talk to clients,” she says.

Former EHL student Alexandre Cadosch agrees: “Relating to clients and actively listening to their needs is certainly the element of hospitality training that helps me the most. You learn to satisfy your client and therefore ensure their loyalty.”

In fact after graduating from EHL, Cadosch found himself working in the finance industry where he has spent the past 20 years. He first joined Tradition Financial Services in Lausanne as a broker in 1989, later moving to Gestar, a financial company owned by the Espirito Santo Group. Here he gained experience in private banking as well as the corporate, legal and tax fields. At the end of 1999, he established Eurofin Services in Lausanne. Today Cadosch holds senior roles at both Eurofin Hospitality, a hotel advisory and asset management firm, and at EI American Real Estate Corporation, a Florida corporation with holdings in the hotel industry.

Versatility

So what helped him switch from being hospitality industry trainee to a finance expert? He puts this down to the versatility of EHL’s training in hotel management. “The creativity, an extended vision of markets and great flexibility allow graduates to develop a practical approach to various sectors of the economy, and to apply these management principles elsewhere,” says Cadosch. He adds that the hotel business is a difficult industry to work in as it uses up a lot of capital, is very complex in terms of human resources, and elaborate in terms of its output.

According to Cadosch, at EHL you are put in a situation where you have to deliver; this means being able to work in a multi-cultural environment and also in a team.

The school has an active learning method and students often work in groups. “Students are expected to be proactive,” explains Julie Cresp, a spokesperson for EHL. Recently Cresp had feedback from a student who described EHL as ‘the school of life’. “This is what employers are looking for: your mindset more than your ability,” she stresses. It is this winning recipe that has led EHL to team up with the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management (EAHM) in Dubai and more recently with the Beijing Hospitality Institute, along with eight others. Enviously located opposite the seven-star hotel, the Burj Al Arab, the EAHM is part of the international luxury hotel chain, the Jumeirah Group. Widely considered to be the leading provider of hospitality education in the Middle East, it is fully licensed by the UAE’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and is also accredited by other recognised institutions in the UK and Australia. 

Exchange programme

As it does for the other schools in its network, EHL provides the Dubai academy with support and students from both institutions are able to spend up to an academic year in Dubai or Switzerland. “Some of the greatest benefits of graduating with a degree in hospitality management are the diverse skills you gain, this means graduates are not only restricted to the hospitality industry, some join consultancy firms or even the financial industry,” says John Fong, the Director of Marketing for the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management.

A more recent addition to the group is the Chinese school in Beijing. Opened in 2008, it currently trains 1,600 students but has capacity for 4,000 which would make it the biggest school in EHL’s network.

It is yet further evidence that the Swiss school has a recipe for success.