After completing her BSc in International Hospitality Management at EHL in 2015, Rubina Insam knew two things: she wanted to gain global industry insights and further strengthen her academic background, so she signed up for EHL’s Master of Science in Global Hospitality Business (MGHB).
During the EHL undergraduate degree, Rubina majored in hospitality finance, and she practiced managing hospitality operations during her two internships in Austria, gaining experience with the European market and clientele. However, she had yet to experience the hospitality and tourism markets of Asia and the Americas, and she wanted to pursue her interest in hospitality finance with a broader industry perspective.
Rubina graduated from the MGHB program in 2016, so she’s had time to reflect on what she learned and how it changed her professional outlook. Here’s what she shared:
What motivated you to join the Master in Global Hospitality Business program?
I chose EHL’s MGHB because it is a unique program that offers so much industry exposure and global experience. I was interested in the real-world industry projects, such as the Capstone Project with a real company and the business field trips where you get the chance to meet numerous leaders from the industry. Plus, I knew that EHL would provide an excellent academic learning experience at graduate school level because I saw how good the professors and lecturers were during my bachelor’s degree.
How would you describe the program?
Life changing! This 18-month program is a quick-starter for the career, especially for students who have hospitality experience that is limited to one area of operations or one area of the world. This program opens the horizons for your career options and gives you the confidence to take your career to the global stage much faster.
Which classes or projects did you appreciate most?
Personally, I like the orderly, logical side of finance, so I enjoyed the classes at EHL Campus Lausanne, which is where we focused on real estate finance and advanced corporate finance. Those topics may seem quite dry, but the professors at EHL have a passion for their subjects, and they show you how important and applicable academic theory is in the real business world.
The most enriching class of the program was probably “Hospitality Business Strategies”, which is a course that is offered in every location, as it focuses on the different strategies employed in various parts of the world. In addition to the course content, I found the different ways of teaching and approaching the topic to be very enriching.
I also liked the course “Organizational Behavior and Leadership strategies” delivered in Houston (Texas, USA), which was a valuable preparation for working life.
What was it like to move around and study on the three campuses?
During the program, I made friendships that will last for a lifetime, because we experienced things together that no one else can understand. I was high on adrenaline for 1.5 years because every day of this program is different and fascinating. And it goes by very quickly, by the time you start to settle into one location, it’s time to move on to the next exciting place.
On a practical level, EHL and the partner universities in Houston and Hong Kong did an amazing job in helping us with the logistics of travel and accommodation. They made it easy to move around the world, which allowed us to focus on our classes, career planning and personal development.
What did you enjoy most about living/studying each location?
In every location, I really enjoyed meeting the locals and travelling on the weekends to see more of the region. I was already quite familiar with Lausanne, having done my bachelor’s degree at EHL, but Hong Kong and Houston were completely new to me.
In Hong Kong, my favorite thing to do was to discover the restaurants and bars of this vibrant city and to visit the beaches and search for the best vistas on the hills of the Island. The campus is in Kowloon, which is the less-westernized part of Hong Kong compared to Hong Kong Island making it an amazing location for everyone interested in stepping into the Asian culture. Hong Kong Island is just across Victoria Harbour and only a short tube ride or beautiful ferry ride away.
In Houston, I really enjoyed living the cliché American campus experience with football games, cheerleaders and tailgate parties, and I got a chance to learn more about the oil industry as the city is a hub for the oil business, and it attracts a huge amount of young ambitious talents. I got to visit a lot of interesting places in Texas such as Austin, Dallas, and Marfa, and I also explored other major sites like New Orleans.
What have you been up to since you graduated from the MGH?
I joined PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC Switzerland) as a Consultant in the Real Estate Advisory department in July 2017. Since then, I was promoted to Senior Associate. Within my team, I am always called to work on the hospitality-related projects which entail the strategic analysis, valuation, and sale of hotels as a real estate asset.
How did the program help you to access your current position?
In addition to the academic and strategic business skills that allowed me to get into a real estate finance role, I developed some valuable soft skills. I gained self-confidence and learned to work effectively in teams, which was a continuation of the growth I experienced during my bachelor’s degree.
The networking also helped me grow on a personal and professional level.
I probably met more than a hundred industry professionals, and every time it was an opportunity to perfect my personal strategy for making a lasting first impression. This is essential in my line of work as I have to convince clients to trust in me, my professionalism and skills.
What are your greatest professional challenges right now? How does your experience and knowledge from the MGH help you handle them?
One of the most challenging parts of professional life is learning to manage a heavy workload under time constraints that add more pressure. My academic training at EHL taught me to manage my time wisely, and the global travel experience and constant change of venue and subject taught me to be agile and cope with stress.