EHL CEO, Michel Rochat, quizzes this year’s group of bright sparks from the EHL Talent Academy on their thoughts and previsions on what the future of hospitality might entail in a post-pandemic world. Their insights are an important prism through which we can all gauge these changing times.
EHL Group launched a new venture last year called ‘EHL Talent Academy,’ a program designed to support and develop young EHL employees in the professional world of hospitality management education. The EHL Talent Academy was created in order to spot the next generation of managers and leaders within the EHL Group, and involves a high-level training program for each participant.
Upon the successful completion of assessments stretching over two years, participants will be awarded a "Certificate of Completion of the EHL Talent Academy". An overall winner will be selected and receive a management training course at a leading institution of his/her choice, worth approximately CHF 25,000.
This year’s participants are: Samrah Alshawi, Marie Charrière, Florence Lafayette Driessens, Joshua Gan, Lorraine Jalef, Camille Le Bars, Marion Monestel and Jens-Henning Peters. Since September 2019, they have been working together in small groups and individually on strategic projects allocated by the EHL Group Management.
From top left to bottom right: Camille Le Bars, Florence Lafayette Driessens, Marion Monestel, Jens-Henning Peters, Lorraine Jalef, Joshua Gan, Marie Charrière, Samrah Alshawi.
Questions from the CEO to the EHL Talent Academy
What changes can Hospitality students expect?
Future students will be trained to work from home – this is a growing trend that looks set to continue.
Hot desking: flexibility will be important for our students’ learning process, this should include a variety of teaching methods that are constantly modified to suit the changing contexts. For example, remote learning that we have had to adapt to recently and quickly.
Some students today are struggling with online team work, hence the role for student ambassadors to accompany those in need of guidance.
Preparatory Year students will feel the biggest impact: parts of the teaching program will have to be modified especially for them since they cannot always be onsite as before.
Develop strategic virtual lessons for the intro week which is important for bringing people together and establishing the main ‘family’ themes of hospitality.
How do you imagine your professional life of tomorrow?
With the increased role of online meetings, dress code and face-to-face contact will be less effective, therefore our first impressions should be counteracted with a new approach.
Companies should consider investing in guidelines and a specific set of technological tools for everyone (professional webcams, microphones, corporate digital backdrops). This would give everyone the best chance to deliver a professional experience right away and make a strong impression.
The multi job environment is becoming more popular – we can learn from this model which promotes the sharing of knowledge and the switching from one task to another, enhancing brain flexibility and a collective mindset.
In order for efficient work to be produced, we need to consider the work community as a knowledge pool. To enable a self-managed team, use an agile mindset with a scrum methodology.
Goals are set collectively and everyone contributes to the team’s output within a given timeframe. Work output is defined together. We share and demo our work to the rest of the team and define next steps together. Everyone contributes, because each has an area of expertise.
The work process is reviewed weekly in a retrospective: We define what we started doing, what we should keep doing and what we should stop doing. Continuous improvement of the work process and team ability to give feedback & input to each other, both on the work itself and the culture of the work process.
Set personal touch point meeting every day to share: What we did yesterday, what we intend to do today and if there are any blockers the team can help with.
Flexible desk options rather than a fixed personal spot. Also Hub centers that can be at home, Lausanne office, Geneva office or others.
Business tomorrow must feature inclusiveness – offering opportunities to people who are interested in learning but who are coming from different environments.
It will be important to define specific roles for the operational staff who cannot work online.
Develop a new mind set based on openness and curiosity to improve and go further. Once the job is done, allow for flexibility with remainder of time.
Nurture links between the other departments and encourage cross fertilization between them.
How do you see the role of sustainability?
The sustainability factor to be considered: find ways of impacting our clients, reduce unnecessary travel to a minimum, avoid going back to ‘old normal’.
Governments are likely to increase requirements for sustainability for future investments, therefore our services have to be ready to comply.
Reduce MICE travel. Online events have proven to be very efficient and effective - these are the solutions for the future.
A food drive could be an interesting initiative for AP workshops or for the future campus.
What are your feelings about the home-office system?
This allows people to manage their time their own way. The focus is no longer on when you are at work (fixed hours), but rather what output you produce within a freer time-frame. It allows for flexibility in personal life and work time organization.
If there is more work required on a certain job, it may extend into the weekend; if there is less work to do, it means there is time to learn new skills or do something useful. We define our own time. We simply enjoy what we do and do it with passion.
Work relationships can be built at a distance.
The overlapping of work and personal life means a break from ‘normal’ hours. This makes work more enjoyable in many ways. It also questions the need for headquarters. Maybe office space could be now used more as a ‘learning space’?
We have clearly seen that inflexible working hours and conditions do not work for those who have a family at the same time. Flexible timings and locations for doing the work are essential if domestic and professional balance is to be maintained, also for people who have more than one job.
We have the flexibility to set our own schedules in the comfort of creating a homely atmosphere which can increase our efficiency.
Working from home can sometimes tiring when there are no fixed parameters. Although flexibility is important, it’s wise to have some rules with fixed meetings and set responsibilities during normal office hours.
Is there a changing attitude towards skills and the hiring process?
It’s more interesting to think about what skills I need next – not simply what position I want to reach next.
Having skills is becoming more meaningful than having a specific position.
In relation to education and learning: what new skills will pave the way to exciting new roles or projects?
New recruitment criteria for HR: There will be a need for employees to be even more flexible and resilient.
Resilience and adaptability will probably be more important selection criteria for the recruiters versus flexibility and self-working time management for the candidates.