Clive Taylor is Campus Director at Les Roches School of International Hotel Management. He has been with Les Roches for 13 years. You can catch up him in his office, or at the Lobby Bar at break time from 09:45 – 10:05.
- How did you get involved in hospitality education?
Actually, I am a trained musician. I trained in Italy and in brass bands at Salford University with an arts degree.
I had the intention to cruise the world in cabaret bands, but in the back of my mind I thought I don’t want to spend my life living out of a suitcase, so better get training for a ‘proper’ job for when I get back to land.
So I did a one year teaching qualification (PGCE), and two teacher training placements, teaching music, English and sports. But I really enjoyed it and from 1983 moved into various teacher and head of department roles. I never made it to the cruise liners!
In 2000, I applied for a job in Leeds, away from my base in Manchester which I didn’t get. But once my wife and I had decided we’d move, we thought: ‘let’s go international.’ The Director of Student Services role came up 2001. In September 2003, I became Campus Director.
- What has kept you so long at Les Roches?
It’s the international environment. It’s just fantastic.
In addition to this, the professional challenges over the 13 years to see a successful business grow have also inspired me. Every 3 to 5 years, everything changes.
So, for example the 13 years I’ve been here, I’ve been involved in building the North Wing, Peter’s Farm 3 and 4. Fire regulations, the Library, the Kiosk, the Lobby Bar, the Mini Market… Everything.
I’ve seen the school go from 555 students to 1200. It’s exciting to see this development.
I’ve also seen the school move from having NEASC accreditation just on the technical and vocational side to getting accreditation at the academic-degree level in 2005 (NEASC – CIHE).
In essence, I’ve seen Les Roches become mature.
- What’s your best memory from your time here?
The opening of the Peter’s Farm 3 and 4, in December 2009, because we had a big celebration.
Father of Marcel Clivaz, our founder, was called Pierre. ‘Peter’ in French. It was his land, his farm. So we called it after him.
It was also great at the 50th anniversary in October 2004. We linked it to our cultural night. I ran the cultural night for 10 years, being a musician, so I put the show on. We had a beautiful dinner, finishing with fireworks by the pool. It was wonderful to share the event with Marcel Clivaz. We stood up on the top floor, looking over the swimming pools. With a good port, an excellent port – because Marcel liked his port.
Marcel, as he was drinking his port, a little tear came down his eye. It was very emotional, because it was his school. He was a lovely guy. A real gentleman. Real entrepreneur. This was his baby. Funny, I used to get phone calls from him. He wanted to meet for a coffee. He just wanted an update, long after he had passed the school on. We’d sit on the terrace at Petit Paradis, or inside by the fire.
- How do you think things have changed over the years?
When I first came here, the hotel companies would come and speak to hotel management students in the 3rd semester. Now they talk to the graduate students. Hospitality became a full graduate profession. With new entrants into the world of hospitality, companies expect them to have a degree. And we’ve moved to a full degree program.
I’ve seen the growth of companies who come on campus. In the beginning, it was very traditional: Hyatt, Starwood, Four Seasons etc. Now we’ve got all sorts: Louis Vuitton, ESPA for example.
It’s evolution. When we talk about opportunities, it’s natural progression. After the government sector, hospitality is the biggest employer. It’s very exciting. I’m in touch with a lot of alumni. I’ve seen their businesses develop.
So, there is a lot of opportunity.
We really are trailblazers in Les Roches. We always have been. When Marcel moved into hotel school in 1979 we were the only Swiss hotel school to deliver programs in English. First hotel school to get accreditation at NEASC in 1991 (technical and vocational council).
- What do you love about living half-way up a Swiss mountain?
I love the nature, the tranquillity. I miss the city – being a city boy – but I love this serenity, being out in nature. That wouldn’t be enough. But having this ‘international oasis’, in the middle of nature. That for me is a perfect match.