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Glion "The age of the linear career is largely over"

Dr. Michel Philippart became Managing Director of Glion Institute of Higher Education in August 2022. He arrived from EDHEC Business School, where he was Director of the Master in Strategy Consulting and Digital Transformation, and also Professor on Supply Strategies. Prior to his career in academia, Dr. Philippart has held senior roles in business and consulting, working for major names such as PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay, McKinsey & Co and GSK.

What is the ‘DNA’ of your school?

We were founded as a hotel school 60 years ago this year. And while we have maintained our strong commitment to the hospitality industry throughout this time, in recent years we have also developed a specific focus towards the luxury sector. By doing this, we aim to prepare students for roles not just in luxury hotels but also luxury goods, private banking, real estate and retail, plus other bespoke services aimed at high net worth individuals expecting excellence in guest experience.

 What, to you, is the role of a hospitality school; and how has this changed over the years?

Our role has always been to produce highly employable, career-ready graduates. This is why students and their parents invest in a Glion education. What has changed is the sheer variety of career opportunities now on offer to hospitality graduates. That’s because the skills and attributes they develop with us – as well as the confidence and resilience that we nurture within them through our hands-on, experiential education – are equally valued in sectors well beyond ‘traditional’ hospitality, such as those mentioned above.

Do you intend to address working employees through continuing education?

We are already doing just that. Earlier this year we launched our Executive Master’s in Luxury Management and Guest Experience, which offers flexible learning – including 100% online – and is thus purpose-designed to be studied alongside a professional role. There’s a strong component of leadership development to this program, for example through complimentary executive coaching. But most of all it is a high level immersion in the luxury business, with the online content supported by residential weeks which incorporate face-to-face classes, workshops and discovery field trips.

We are additionally looking to boost lifelong learning via massive open online courses (MOOC), the first example of which is our free online course ‘The Luxury Industry: Customers and Luxury Experiences’ which is available to all via the FutureLearn portal.

How have you reinforced your links with the industry during the last two years?

Everyone in hospitality appreciates the industry’s ongoing ‘war for talent’. As a leading school serving the sector, we are acutely aware of the need to produce the kind of quality candidates required to meet some of this talent shortfall. At Glion, we are forging ever-closer links with the major employers, welcoming them to campus to make their pitches to our students, while also seeking their input as we evolve our programs. We also run projects embedded in academic content with industry partners, involving students to solve the issues presented by our partners. We also present some of our analyzes in industry events like the Montreux International Tourism Forum.

 What innovations, programs and projects are you currently implementing – or would like to implement – in your schools?

The biggest development on the academic side for us was the expansion of our graduate degree portfolio with the launch of three new Master’s degrees, which had their first intakes in September 2019. 

These new programs augmented our established Master’s in International Hospitality Business, and it means we can now offer a choice of four highly specialized and intensely career-focused graduate degrees, including sector-specific programs such as the Master’s in Real Estate, Finance and Hotel Development and the Master’s in Luxury Management and Guest Experience.  

Another major development for us was luring the fast-rising, Michelin-starred chef Stéphane Décotterd and his team to launch a new signature restaurant, bistro and cocktail bar on our flagship Glion campus. This has not only boosted our profile in the surrounding area, it is also giving our students an amazing learning opportunity during their first, Practical Arts semester. During this time, they have the opportunity to rotate into kitchen and service roles under the guidance of Stéphane and other supremely talented professionals.

What message would you like to send out to industry professionals?

I would emphasize again the need for us all to work together to improve the image and reputation of hospitality as a rewarding career option. And it is – there are few more globally diverse industries in which to work; and equally few which offer such a breadth of potential career paths, ranging from customer-facing roles which are founded on exemplary soft skills, through to specializations such as revenue management that allow you to directly influence the bottom line of your business.

We want industry professionals to come to our campuses not only to present career opportunities, but also to discuss their issues and challenge our students to contribute to overcoming them.

What message would you like to send out to the youth of today?

My message is to look towards the future with optimism. But also to open your eyes to the changes that will, if anything, accelerate as travel, tourism and hospitality bounces back from the pandemic. If you can stay one step ahead of these changes – be they technological, behavioral or just fashionable – you will prosper in your career or in your entrepreneurial ambitions. 

The core skills of hospitality - particularly the soft skills - are also highly transferable. Around half of our Bachelor graduates embrace careers in other sectors, such as retail, luxury, banking, etc. And we also attract career-changers into the industry, with more than 60% of our Master’s students coming from backgrounds other than hospitality.

The age of the linear career is largely over; and the key to successfully negotiating a non-linear career is to acquire the breadth of knowledge that will enable you to pivot more easily to a different path when the time comes. One of the keys to achieving this is through a commitment to lifelong learning as a means of self-development.

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