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In January our Hotel Management School was one of the sponsors of the ‘Middle East & Africa Future Leaders Challenge’ which took place in Dubai. This new initiative connects hotel management schools and hospitality companies throughout the region, with the purpose of showing its regional high career relevancy. The challenge is an initiative of our industry advisory board member Jochem Jan Sleiffer, president Middle East, Africa and Turkey at Hilton. As part of our partnership with them, our Industry Relations Officer Stephanie van Oorschot joined their advisory board and was part of the jury during the event. Also account manager of the Middle East, Eben Nel, attended the event for speed date sessions with HR Executives from across the region.

The competition was hosted by the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management, which was founded by Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts in 2001, and was attended by 12 schools from all over the region: Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Seychelles and South Africa. The students worked in mixed teams and were asked to come up with strategies to improve talent acquisition and retention in the region. Some of their ideas included a scholarship scheme for underprivileged students, an AI application to support career paths in hospitality, and company certifications to show that they are an employer that invests in talent development.

Besides joining the MEA Future Leaders Challenge, visits were paid to our local partner companies and alumni. In Dubai, we visited the HR director of Jumeirah who is currently hosting multiple interns from our academy, the Le Meridien Dubai Beach Resort cluster and our alumnus Dario Wolfsen who is in the leadership team at the Middle East’s largest dark kitchen and restaurant operator ‘Kitopi’.

In Qatar account manager Eben visited Le Royal Meridien cluster, where we have 3 students currently on internship, followed by our alumna Simone Lugies at Conrad Abu Dhabi.

It was a successful trip focused on talent development where we met new people and gained new connections.