It took Erik Eklund over a year to make his decision on where to study, as well as to understand what hospitality truly meant. Choosing Les Roches, Erik discovered hospitality’s core values – being welcoming and providing entertainment to others – and applied them to a successful career as an inspirational speaker and entrepreneur.
Born in Colombia but raised in Sweden, Erik was originally indifferent to hospitality. “It wasn’t until a hotel director told me I should get a degree in hospitality management did I finally start questioning what it was all about,” he said. After attending some free Les Roches conferences in Stockholm, Erik knew the BA Hospitality Management course was the right choice for him. “The deciding factor was the mix of practical learning, internships and theoretical studies,” he said. “Les Roches facilitated an inspiring, hands-on and motivating learning environment. It challenged me to gain skills and confidence.”
I embrace people for who they are, welcome them and care for them so they can go out and care for others.
Erik’s journey has taken in a range of organizations, from China’s Shangri-La Hotels and the Royal Caribbean to Louis Vuitton in Belgium. However, he found his calling as an inspirational speaker. His slogan, ‘live your brand’, is a statement he believes every person should adopt. “It’s a way of saying live your life,” Erik said. “Branding is key when it comes to succeeding or failing. Your reputation is your brand, and your brand is a combination of your values, actions and beliefs.”
Erik believes that his Les Roches education has played a big part in his current success. “Hospitality is all about how people treat one another,” he said. “It’s the welcoming of and entertainment for people, regardless of whether you know them or not. That’s the core of what I do – I embrace people for who they are, welcome them and care for them so they can go out and care for others.”
The one thing Erik values the most from his Les Roches studies is the global alumni network. “Although the option to eat great food and be surrounded by students from across the globe was super, the network of friends I created was outstanding,” he said. “I often meet both students and alumni throughout my journeys, so I never feel alone. That’s why I love Les Roches – as students, we lived, studied, laughed and cried together. It’s a family, and now I have someone I know all over the world.”