Setting the standard in innovation

The Hotel Management School of Geneva teaches students professional excellence

Yannick Nardin
Rebecca Bowring | Patrice Moullet
Summer 2023

The Hotel Management School of Geneva may expect traditional looks like slicked back ponytails and well-groomed facial hair, but the preservation of these hospitality traditions doesn’t prevent this international institution from embracing the trends of the future.

The ICRC, UN, the United States and Turkish embassies… the high-calibre neighbours of the Hotel Management School of Geneva (EHG) all reflect the same international flair of the school itself. Specializing in dining and hospitality (and part of the GastroSuisse Federation), the school has been a fixture in the Genevan landscape since 1951, when
it relocated to an elegant 18th-century villa on the shores of Lake Geneva. Its unique location allows the school to offer its services daily to the variety of NGOs, diplomats, hotels, and regional and international businesses in the surrounding area. But this highly international spirit goes hand in hand with strong family traditions, explains Susanne Welle, EHG’s Director. At this “gem of a school,” as she describes it, teaching is conducted in French — which is rare in the field — for all 200 students. While that may seem like a paradox, it’s actually a unique positioning that expertly balances time-honoured techniques and progressive movements.

Honouring a legacy of expertise
The hotel school industry is extremely competitive, but the EHG stands out by cultivating loyalty to traditions, as they combine the art of hospitality with the acquisition of managerial skills. The school’s curriculum — which culminates in a professional diploma after three years — includes obligatory courses in cooking, hospitality, and hotel room service. “Our agents appreciate that our students are masters of excellence,” explains Susanne Welle, who underwent her own formal training at a host of Swiss institutions. Students who wish to go above and beyond are also given multiple opportunities to further hone their skillset. “We also offer custom services like private events at our historic Vieux-Bois restaurant, receptions, cocktails, seminars in team building, workshops to increase both hard and soft skills, and oenological training.” These custom programs give EHG students a chance to refine their skills and know-how by working closely with a very demanding international clientele.

Training is split evenly across theory and practice. “The EHG prepares students to be able to enter the workforce immediately upon finishing their studies with our ‘plug and play’ model,” explained Susanne Welle. In fact, the EHG recently (in March 2023) established a close partnership with the Geneva Marriott Hotel, which acts as the school’s “initiation hotel.” Its director, Pierre-Henri Perrin, oversees certain classes of students, along with other true professionals in the field who also act as professors.

Preparing students for the jobs of the future
The school’s expertise in excellence means it also stays abreast of the latest trends, as Susanne Welle regularly introduces new internal training and collaborations with industry specialists. “We constantly engage with key players in the industry and current trends. For example, we currently have a professor on staff who is trained in ChatGPT. We also benefit from precious, proprietary industry insights through our affiliation with GastroSuisse.” Other initiatives include the school’s “start-up bootcamps,” created about three years ago, in which students undergo two days of intensive training in innovative topics, and then present their learnings before a jury in a competition format. For their diploma thesis, students are asked to develop solutions for real-world businesses. “This idea is for our students to work with real-life companies, situations, and numbers. For example, in 2022, we asked students to propose internal catering and digitalization concepts for the Palexpo convention centre.”

This dynamism is complimented by a focus on small class sizes. “Our ‘human sized’ school means that every student receives individual attention,” clarified Susanne Welle. “We provide strategic guidance for all our students and help them find internships. Students also benefit from our large pool of alumni who are actively employed all over the world.” Yet another advantage of this sharp and dapper training program: while it may be a classically Genevan fixture, its influence extends well beyond the city’s borders.