Finally, the long awaited write-up on Les Roches 60th Anniversary. Did the suspense kill you already?
Simply looking at the title of this blog post, it’s amazing to see what a long way Les Roches has come and putting it in numbers, this means that Les Roches has seen almost 100 batches of students graduate. This also means there is family everywhere you go.
IT’S ALL IN THE FAMILY
With graduates and alumni in managerial and even director positions, of which many have come back to Les Roches as speakers to encourage and inspire current Les Roches students. Les Rochians keep it within the family and our roots are implanted deep within us. Whether it is Mr Ronen Nissenbaum, the Managing Director at the Waldorf Astoria New York who sent his son, current BBA1 student Max Nissenbaum, back to his alma mater; or Mr Omer Kaddouri, President and CEO of Rotana, who came back as one of Les Roches’s 60th Anniversary keynote speakers at the conference, we keep it within Les Roches family.
Being a Les Roches ambassador, I had the opportunity to participate in this celebratory event and it also helps that Les Roches ambassadors get free goodies too! From matching Les Roches beanies to classy scarves for the beautiful girls, it was heart-warming to see how students and staff alike dressed up with pride and marched on together and helped out for the event. Whether it was Hans and Mariana at the forefront interviewing keynote speakers or Dennis helping guests with parking in the cold, Les Roches was there 100% with zeal and zest.
NOTHING COULD BEAT THIS WEATHER
Perched at the top of the mountains against a scenic backdrop of the Swiss Alps, the event was held in Lens. The sun was shining and the weather was absolutely delightful. As Stella put it, “I do not know how Les Roches does it but every single time there is an important event, the weather is always good”. Having experienced bad weather the past few days, I could not help but feel the sun was out to celebrate with us too.
THE GUEST SPEAKERS
Invited members included Brian Payea, Head of Industry Relations at Tripadvisor, Rafael Micha, Chief Marketing Officer at GRUPO Habita and Michel Gehrif, VP Talent Development at Kempinski amongst other notable guests present at the event.
It was truly inspiring to see how the hospitality industry spilled over and affected other industries. One of the event’s invited guests was Suzan LeVine, US ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Listening intently to her speech only did it occur to me me how political relationships between countries and the government affected the hospitality landscape of countries and I am grateful for the competent professionals such as Suzan. Moreover, did you know that she was the ex vice president of marketing and sales at Expedia? Accrediting much of her current knowledge and soft skills to her job at Expedia, it was motivating to know the limitless employment opportunities extended from a job in hospitality.
The misconception that many people have is the stringent career prospect as a result of having a degree in international hotel management but the panel of invited guests and keynote speakers from an array of industries fight that very belief.
The hospitality industry is a highly relevant industry in today’s industry where large emphasis is placed on the service culture and consumer expectations are on the rise. Understanding the pertinence to be on the forefront, Les Roches conducted a conference inviting key speakers from various industries to speak about three key topics that of innovation, entrepreneurship and employability. Topics discussed at the panel included the relevance of technology in shaping employability, the insidious risk starting your own company and current innovations to meet the ever-changing trends of today’s modern society.
Live streaming of the conference was even held at the Les Roches main lobby so that students who were unable to be present at the event could still listen in to the conference. See what I told you about keeping it within the family, nobody gets left behind or forgotten – I definitely ripped that one from Lilo and Stitch I will be honest with you.
Invited guests were cordially invited after a round of morning coffee and croissants (of course, it’s Switzerland) to sit and listen to the conference. Throughout the conference, guests were allowed to post updates and questions to the panel of keynote speakers through the Les Roches Anniversary mobile application.
The Les Roches mobile application acted as a pseudo social media platform for the event inviting guests to share their ideas, thoughts and pictures with fellow guests. In-line with one of the main topics of innovation and being adaptable with the current needs and wants of customers, the Les Roches anniversary mobile application was on point! Kudos to Les Roches!
Listening to the keynote speakers talk about innovation and share their personal knowledge and expertise, I felt empowered. I felt absolutely honored to be sitting at the conference listening in, it was as if all the questions I had wanted to ask before to my General Manager during my internship had been answered. Moreover all I had to do was typing it out on a mobile application, it was an opportunity too hard to miss. I was able to converse and communicate with many industry leaders and how enlightening was it to see how passionate they are about their job!
SUCH A FRIENDLY ATMOSPHERE!
The first thing I realized about the conference was how warm and hospitable people are. Initially I was nervous, probably a little skeptical as from my understanding I was simply a student and they were highly respected individuals in high-ranking positions – what can I talk to them about that they do not already know and why would they be interested in what I have to say?
Being at Les Roches 60th Anniversary conference proved me wrong and made me realize, not realize but rather remember, we were all there because we love being in the hospitality industry. The gift of service and the general love of being in the company of people was what inclined us towards this industry and is ultimately what will propel us into these high-ranking positions.
So in-fact, the higher the position, the friendlier they are – is that what you are saying? Exactly. I found myself chatting with Rafael Micha, the Chief Marketing Officer and Founder of GRUPO Habita hotels in Mexico and New York, and if a picture paints a thousand words, I hope the picture on the left tells you that we got along really well.
The overall atmosphere at the event was exhilarating because everyone was truly interested and enthusiastic. The one thing that makes the hospitality industry so different and interesting, as previously mentioned, is the myriad of different industries that form the fundamental clockwork that runs the industry. From technology to education, people from different walks of the industry gathered to share about their thoughts and contribution to the industry. Being young and aspirational I could not help but poke my head in and out of a couple of conversations to listen.
Overall the event was truly a success. Looking at the theme right now “breaking boundaries”, one can simply cast it aside as simply another theme for a school event. However, if you think about it, making it to the 60th mark is itself a milestone. On top of this, at 60 and aiming to break boundaries and continue to innovate and take risks – this was not simply an event to celebrate but also an event to introduce, make a stand and let industry partners and leaders know Les Roches’s presence, direction and message that we will continue to strive with vigor and fervor in this field to achieve none other than what we perceive as, “standards of excellence”.
Almost royal yet highly unprecedented, this event was tantamount to a grand entrance of a new and fervent Les Roches to the industry. We’re breaking boundaries and we’re breaking walls, we will do whatever it calls! Even after 60 years, I absolutely cannot wait to see what else Les Roches has in store.
By Jovel Chan, Student Ambassador