IMHI Class of 2016-2017

IMHI Class of 2016-2017
Class of 2016-2017

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

ESSEC Hospitality and Food management Forum 2017

By: Victoria Estic, ESSEC student.

Every year, ESSEC Business School hosts an industry conference focused on topical strategic issues affecting the hospitality sector on its campus in Cergy Pontoise near Paris.This brings students from both of its Hospitality Management programs (the MSc in Hospitality Management and ESSEC’s Global MBA major in Hospitality Management) together with alumni and industry partners to discuss issues, challenges, and trends facing the industry today, giving them the opportunity to interact with senior industry executives as well as advance on their job search for after graduation.

This year ESSEC jointly organized this forum with the Mastère Spécialisé Management International Agro-alimentaire (MIA), further expanding participant's horizons away from traditional hospitality and opening their minds towards opportunities in the broader food production, distribution and retailing areas.

The forum kicked off with two industry panels focused on two key interconnected industry issues –developing business models and innovation.  The first panel, entitled ‘Excellence in Business Models’ was moderated by Professor Peter O’Connor and included speakers from a very wide spectrum of hospitality companies including Trivago, Squarebreak, Touch & PLAY, Deutsche Hospitality and SnapShot. The discussion started by highlighting how the business model behind traditional hospitality companies is increasingly coming under threat, whether from innovative players such as AirBnB or online companies such as the OTAs, both of whom are radically changing paradigms as what it means to be successful.   

According to Laurent Michaud (IMHI 2011), CEO of Eazeat, today hotels are struggling to drive additional revenues.  Currently accommodation make up four-fifths of overall revenues, but this figure is relatively fixed and if hotels wish to keep growing, they need to find supplemental revenues from somewhere else.  Some companies are moving ahead – for example Accorhotels with its innovative ‘Local’ initiative, Deutsche Hospitality by moving away from the company’s traditional markets with its new concept Jaz, and Squarebreak by combining private rentals with hotel-like services while also innovatively responding to a growing demand for both privacy and unique experiences. 

The biggest challenge most hospitality companies currently face is this one of managing change.  Which is why perhaps they should consider trying to collaborate more closely with start-ups like Snapshot or Eazeat, whose smaller size and nimbler organization structure allows them to react to developing market opportunities much more quickly.  As David Turnbull (Co-Founder & CCO of Snapshot) pointed out, the hospitality industry should start investing in technology and data to better understand customers and satisfy their developing needs. The PMS can be used to store information, the CRM to offer personalized services and the channel manager for online distribution. Then, the staff should be trained to use the data and be proactive.

The second panel returned to this topic of innovation.  Speakers such as Régis Bertrand, Innovation Manager at Metro and Laurent Repelin, General Manager Food Service and B2B at Savencia, highlighted the role of having the right people in the innovation process.  Thus, creating an environment that fosters innovation is essential. Thinking differently about this business is one of the key issues, which perhaps helps explain why having a shadow Comex composed of Millennial has become a growing trend in companies struggling to keep ahead of the game.

As Craig Cochrane, Senior Vice President Human Resources Movenpick pointed out, hotels do not always have the internal resources to innovate for themselves, but can use startups to better understand the customer and respond faster to their needs through social media, the web and media such as mobile.  In the food industry, innovation also means finding the proper tools to respond to both individual needs and more macro trends to insure that the company can deliver the right product to the right user at the right time. For example, restaurants could make better use of CRM to better understand customer habits. From this communications channels such as social media could be used to better market to the customer, thus helping to increase turnover.

Irrespective of the industry, the key issue is understanding the customer to know what products he is looking for and how much he is willing to pay. In Berlin, Metro is launching an accelerator where solutions are tested for free by customers to make sure that the digital promise matches real life requirements.  And companies should also keep in mind that although some innovations can be considered global issues, others need to be tackled locally to better service regional needs.

After the round tables, the afternoon was dedicated to meetings with partner companies.  Participants included AccorHotels,, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Citizen M, Colisée, Compass Group, Deutsche Hospitality, Domitys, Dorchester Collection, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Oetker Collection, Marriot, Hosco, Savencia Fromage & Dairy, Metro, Movenpick, Trivago, The Ascott Limited, Paris Inn Group and EliorGroup, providing participants with the perfect opportunity to talk with senior industry leaders and start finding jobs and internships. 

The event highlights the close connection between industry and the school – an important consideration given the latter’s orientation to provide practical, applied and relevant educational opportunities for its participants.  Thank you to all the industry executives who made this possible for your continued commitment to preparing the next generation of hospitality leaders.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Travelling the globe with ESSEC’s Global MBA major in Hospitality Management (IMHI)

By: Victoria Estic, ESSEC student.

Diversity is highly valued in ESSEC’s Global MBA major in Hospitality Management (IMHI), and this quality is reflected not just in its orientation and its student body, but also in the composition of its teaching staff.  As befits one of the leading schools producing graduates for the global hospitality sector, ESSEC’s hospitality faculty not only have widely different educational and professional backgrounds but also hail from every corner of the globe. Here we take a look at four really great teachers that truly represent the spirit of the IMHI program.

The first is of course Professor Peter O’Connor, Academic Director of the program and the one who teaches both the Business Computing and the eCommerce courses.  Coming from Ireland, Peter has a deep connection with the hospitality sector. While he holds a PhD from Margaret University College in Edinburgh and has authored both textbooks and countless articles, his true value is his expertise on using electronic channels of distribution in hospitality, as well as on how technology can be used to enhance operational effectiveness in hotels. Peter is greatly appreciated amongst his students. He is not only passionate about his subject but can communicate and pass this onto his students in only one class! A talented speaker, he is a strong believer in “action learning” and “learning by doing”.  While difficult, and often frustrating, for some, by forcing participants to think for themselves, experiment and find creative solutions, this quickly produces deeper learning that traditional methods. “Instead of immediately revealing the ‘right’ solution, by trying over and over people finally succeed and understand much better what they’ve done”.  Perhaps the best reflection of this approach is the high level of technology literacy amongst graduates of the program, a competency much appreciated by employers.

A second teacher who has had an enormous influence of generations of IMHI students is Professor Robert E. Kastner, nicknamed Bob, who comes from America and teaches Financial Accounting. After completing his studies, Bob taught at Cornell on the faculty of the School of Hotel Administration. He is widely known as a lecturer and producer of management development programs for the global hospitality sector. He has had a long association with leading international hospitality management companies, and also works with Robert M. Chase & Associates to deliver executive education programs using two management simulations, the Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Simulation Exercise.  Bob’s highly dynamic nature, enthusiasm, and ethic nature represent well his American genes. Bob is an excellent teacher who pushes students to work hard and excel at what they are doing, with the result that, during their careers, graduates think back about Bob’s financial accounting classes & methods. His key battle cry is “cash-flow”!   Everything invariably has to do with “cash-flow”, the lifeblood that makes a company run well.  Behind his serious manner, Bob is a very nice and funny teacher.  Students will never forget Bob and his countless hilarious ties!  He is a truly passionate teacher who definitely doesn’t leave students indifferent. 

Adding further to the international dimension is Revenue Management specialist Dr. Sunmee Choi from South Korea.  Another Cornell graduate, she teaches courses on quantitative analysis and decision modeling, particularly applied to the Revenue management area. Before joining the academic world, she worked in several interesting industry positions, including Director of Hotel Revenue Management at, as well as in operations for companies such as Hyatt, Hampton Inns, and Sheraton. Sunmee is an amazing teacher who clearly knows her highly technical subject inside-out. She is passionate about research and provides students unique academic articles to read and analyze. Rather the simply teaching classes, she encourages students to dig deeply into research and innovation.  Her way of teaching, which is very methodical and thus very different from Professor O’Connor’s more unstructured approach, represents well her South-Korean roots and thus confronts students with the perfect opportunity to learn about different ways of working.  Despite her highly quantitative discipline, Sunmee is at heart very soft as well as genuine and as a result the students love her.

And last but not least we have global traveller, Dr. Stefan Groschl, an ESSEC faculty member specialized in Human Resources Management, educated in the UK, based in France but originally from Germany and now living in Panama! Stefan is Co-Chair of the ESSEC Leadership and Diversity Chair and Member of the Faculty of Management at ESSEC Business School. A graduate of Oxford Brookes University, Stefan has both worked in the hotel industry and taught in academic positions in England and Canada before joining ESSEC. He is a regular panelist and speaker at academic conferences and industry events all over the world as well as delivering courses at numerous academic institutions in Mexico, Taiwan, Spain, New Zealand, Germany and Bahrain – a truly international profile. Stefan is an excellent teacher and even though his subject – Human Resources – was not necessarily the one that students were initially the most excited about, he consistency manages to make it as one of the students’ favorite classes. Indeed, one of his classes “Managing Oneself and Leading Others” goes much further than just teaching basic human resources management. It enables students to work and reflect on their own personal growth. Stefan also succeeds in prove to students that Human Resources is at the center of success in most companies, but particularly in the people oriented hospitality sector. His rigor, as well as his proximity to students, are greatly appreciated, and his ability to help people understand that hospitality is above all a people business adds an important dimension to the IMHI experience.

Thus, from Ireland, to America, to South Korea and Germany, and many destinations in between, almost the entire globe is covered by the ESSEC faculty. To that we add the students, who typically come from nearly twenty different countries, the orientation which focuses on the global hotels sector and it all adds up to a truly international experience.  Such a variety of intertwined cultures presents students with a unique opportunity from which to adapt and learn, and in fact experience what most of us actually experience when we’re hired in different positions in global companies in different parts of the world. ESSEC’s Global MBA major in Hospitality Management – offering a truly international education to help prepare you for a truly international career!