Introducing Swiss Hospitality Company to the Kingdom through its youth.
Swiss Hospitality Company (SHC) invited us on a trip to Montreux, Switzerland, where we got to see what the Swiss Education Group (SEG) has in store for Saudi students. SEG consists of five different hospitality management schools throughout Switzerland, while SHC is a local consulting and development company aiming to upgrade the quality of services within the hospitality and tourism industry in Saudi Arabia. The two companies have strategically partnered to increase professionalism in hospitality within the Kingdom through educating Saudi students.
I got to know a little more about the workings of SHC at the Swiss Saudi Hospitality Forum hosted by Salman Gasim, CEO of SHC. He gave a speech in which he discussed the company’s leading position in the hospitality industry in Saudi Arabia. SHC has a unique business model that involves major stakeholders such as public sector, private sector, and non-profit. The collaborations aim to achieve common goals that are aligned with the country’s 2030 Vision. He states, “Our offerings are quite broad because we feel responsible to upgrade the service quality in hospitality establishments to a level where it deserves to be, the Saudi people are hospitable by nature and we need to reflect that in our businesses with the highest standards.” All sectors share a main goal, and that is to spearhead tourism in the Kingdom. SHC has over 40 collaborations throughout the sectors including some of the Vision 2030 giga-projects. This is also good for the SEG educated students as it provides them with a wide range of opportunities upon their return.
SHC’s partnership with SEG has transformed the students into skilled, and sometimes trilingual, professionals. The CEO of SEG, Florent Rondez, said, “ SEG, SHC, and Vision 2030 are all working to reach the same goal. We want to contribute to the Kingdom’s tourism and hospitality industries.” He is also excited for the students coming from a country that is under transformation. “The young generation is so eager to make a difference and show the world what Saudi Arabia can be. We are excited to be a part of that with SHC.”
SEG has a recipe for success that includes integrating technology along with theory and application. This means that the students go out into the world well-trained. The students are required to complete two internships pre-graduation. Finding the perfect fit is made easy at a bi-annual career fair known as the International Recruitment Forum (IRF), where students mingle with industry professionals. At the IRF, I met Yves Givel, vice president of human resources at the Hyatt, who said, “Hospitality requires a lot of customer attention, so we look for people who are up for the challenge while remaining empathetic, who can extend care to our customers and try to understand them while anticipating their needs.”
Donya Salahaldin a Saudi culinary student at César Ritz Colleges, shared, “I have always wanted to pursue this field, and after some motivational words from Tanja Florenthal, the academic director at the college, who said I am one of the examples that Saudi Arabia needs in hospitality and tourism, I am now confident that I did choose the right career and I am not stopping here. This gave me the push I needed, because when I first started I was not exactly sure what to expect, but now I am proud and I know I accomplish so much.”
Another culinary student, Alanoud Hakami, shared her excitement regarding the new opportunities opening up in the country. “It’s really impressive to watch the changes happening now! Especially for me because I already have a travel and tourism diploma from my previous studies and now I’m following up with a culinary degree from César Ritz, so I’m hoping to match those two within the tourism industry and maybe start my own thing at home and grow from there.”