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Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Hospitality, Entrepreneurship and Female Leadership Development

By Dr Stuart Jauncey, MD, Les Roches Global Hospitality Education

Monday, April 30, 2018, 16:42 Hrs  [IST]

“A sense of resourcefulness, resilience and agility is not only increasingly necessary in today’s fast-paced industry, but also resonates with the values of Gen Z and empowers graduates to realise their own professional goals.”

Agility and Ambition: A New Workforce for a New Workplace
Aspiring hospitality professionals are no longer limited to the traditional career pathways of a generation ago. The digital age has transformed the industry, changing traveller preferences and opening doors to new business opportunities. Besides building careers as hotel and restaurant managers, today’s hospitality leaders are just as likely to be technology experts, experience curators and the founders of start-ups.

The values of Generation Z, or those born after the mid-90s, are well-suited to this new entrepreneurial landscape. According to a study by Universum, INSEAD Emerging Markets Institute, the HEAD Foundation and MIT Leadership, one in four Gen Z students and professionals worldwide is interested in starting their own business. In terms of leadership aspirations, the gender gap is also closing across this young generation, a trend that began with their Millennial predecessors. 61% of Gen Z and Millennial women and 63% of Gen Z and Millennial men say that becoming a leader is important to them, compared to 52% of Gen X women and 63% of Gen X men

As educators, we must strive to prepare students with entrepreneurial — and intrapreneurial — skills. Today’s secondary school and university students have grown up in an age of entrepreneurship that reveres disrupters and self-starters. At the same time, even large, well-established companies require innovation from within to remain competitive. A sense of resourcefulness, resilience and agility is not only increasingly necessary in today’s fast-paced industry, but also resonates with the values of Gen Z and empowers graduates to realise their own professional goals.

Developing an Entrepreneurial Mindset
Entrepreneurship professor Tina Seelig of Stanford University believes that entrepreneurship can be taught by building upon inborn traits, such as our natural ability to imagine. At Les Roches Global Hospitality Education, we have adapted our curricula to encourage students to generate innovative solutions through imagination and creativity. As part of the BBA in Global Hospitality Management degree, students can specialise in Hospitality Entrepreneurship, learning how to research, plan and pitch their own hospitality business concept. Through a partnership with talent incubator Seedstars, students can apply their knowledge in an immersive entrepreneurship “bootcamp” on campus in Switzerland; for three days, they receive coaching from entrepreneurs and compete to pitch their start-up ideas to a jury of experts. In addition, Les Roches regularly invites entrepreneurs as guest speakers on campus to share their experiences with students.

We often find that it is through out-of-class activities and real-world projects that students truly discover their entrepreneurial potential. For this reason, Les Roches encourages students to partake in competitions, hospitality summits and other immersive learning experiences. Guided by faculty, each year teams of Les Roches students work together to successfully present their best business ideas at international hospitality competitions. Students also have the opportunity to help companies solve real business problems: at the graduate level, MBA students carry out business consultancy projects as part of their degree, working with renowned hospitality companies in Switzerland and abroad.

Through these experiences, as students develop essential hard skills, such as financial forecasting and modelling, they also gain valuable soft skills, such as teamwork, leadership, multicultural communication and creative problem solving — skills which are vital in any workplace.

Supporting Female Entrepreneurs and Leadership Diversity
Empowering students and preparing them for the global marketplace begins with fostering a diverse and welcoming campus environment. Approximately 80 nationalities are represented among the student body at Les Roches Switzerland, and 53% of our students are female. Our diverse faculty also bring experience and expertise from around the world. As a result, students develop skills in multicultural awareness and communication from day one — skills that are further enhanced through internships and semesters spent abroad.

The diversity of the Les Roches community is reflected in an alumni community of industry leaders spanning the globe: leaders such as Shagun Mehra, class of ‘03, who runs her own food and beverage consultancy business, Food Design Studio, and has been named one of the Top 5 Craftspeople in India by Fortune Magazine. Shagun’s passion for the culinary arts led her to be invited as a judge on Indian television show Femme Foodies, where she advocates for women working in gastronomy.

Other Les Roches women have also made their mark both in business and in supporting female leaders. Dimple Lalwani, class of ‘12, has founded two start-ups in London. The first, Social Belly, was an app connecting foodies over shared meals; the second, Talking Circles, fosters knowledge sharing and talent development among co-workers. In addition to running her own business, Dimple supports a network of women and men dedicated to gender equality as a Lean In Circles Regional Leader with a focus on women in start-ups.

Grace Muchiri, class of ‘00, founded the Club Managers Association of East Africa to transmit her passion for this industry and empower others in their professional development. Symphony Loo, class of ‘14, is breaking boundaries in the typically male-dominated field of bartending: the 25-year-old group bar manager at The Dandy Partnership (a group of bars and restaurants including Neon Pigeon) was named Rising Star in 2017 by The Bar Awards in Singapore. And Brazilian alumna Gabriela Carvalho is the founder and chef of Quintana, a restaurant that was chosen as Best Restaurant in Curitiba by national magazine Veja.

Given the right tools, today’s youth is ready to break new ground in different industries across the world. As educators, we have a responsibility to equip students with the entrepreneurial mindset and skills to seize those opportunities.

About the author: Dr Stuart Jauncey serves as Managing Director of Les Roches Global Hospitality Education, a leading hospitality management institution with campuses in Switzerland, Spain, Chain and the US. An academic and hospitality professional, he has spent the past ten years as Dean of The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management (EAHM) in Dubai.

Les Roches Global Hospitality Education
Founded in 1954, Les Roches Global Hospitality Education is a private institution based on the Swiss model of experiential learning, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in the fields of hospitality, tourism and event management. Les Roches prepares entrepreneurial and innovative graduates across a global network of campuses in Switzerland, Spain, the US and China.

Part of Sommet Education, Les Roches is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. (NEASC). Les Roches is ranked number six of the world’s top institutions for hospitality and leisure management and number three worldwide for employer reputation (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2018). For more information, visit

The views expressed within this column are the opinion of the author, and may not necessarily be endorsed by the publication.

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