Crisis Management Is Perhaps The Greatest Lesson That Coronavirus Leaves Us: Carlos Diez de la Lastra, Les Roches Marbella

In an exclusive talk with BW Education, Carlos Diez de la Lastra, General Director, Les Roches Marbella, spoke about the institution and more.

Tell us in detail about Les Roches Marbella and its new world rank (QS Ranking 2020).  

At Les Roches Marbella we have a long history of training the elite of the hospitality and tourism sector globally, and we appreciate the trust that the industry and the world's leading companies place in us. In fact, just a few months ago Les Roches was ranked amongst the world’s Top 3 Higher Education Institutions for Hospitality and Leisure Management by QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020, one of the most prestigious university rankings. In addition, in this 2020 edition, Les Roches has achieved, with 93.4 points out of 100, to rank second in the world for employer reputation, which makes it one of the favourite institutions for talent recruiting companies. Industry partners have been instrumental in helping us grow our reputation as a school that delivers fantastic career opportunities to students who enjoy practically full employment rate upon graduation.  

During this difficult time, the sector is going through, both in our country and worldwide, we are fully aware that being part of this classification, which places our institution at the forefront of international and Spanish universities in hospitality and tourism training, is a great responsibility. We are proud of this recognition and the implicit contribution it brings to the development of major current projects in the hotel and luxury hospitality sector. 

Throw some light on the innovative trends in Hospitality Education? 

Undoubtedly, the current situation of instability is going to accelerate processes that, although on a small scale they were already being implemented, will now gain renewed strength and, consequently, it is very likely that the tourism industry will evolve by leaps and bounds. In this sense, smart hotels and trends based on sustainability, luxury or innovation will stand out. There were already many companies that in recent years bet on technology, however, now more than ever it is key that professionals in the sector learn to select and use the tools available at their disposal to monitor the market, analyze the possibilities that Marketing offers them and knowing how to choose, as managers, those that, at all times, give greater added value to their business. 

Crisis Management, which is perhaps the greatest lesson that the coronavirus leaves us, is also a growing trend and must be an integral part of any academic program that aims to educate the next leaders, regardless of the sector or its specialization. We must equip our students with the instruments, capabilities and skills so that they are well prepared. In our school, we carry out drills in which our students must face stressful situations, in which they learn to manage the emotional aspect in crisis situations. We are at a time when a whole new ecosystem for business is emerging, and the resilience of companies and their employees will be vital. Factors such as immediacy, having an overview of the situation around the world, an open mind for problem-solving and setting priorities distinguish good management in tackling a crisis successfully. 

What is the difference that Les Roches Marbella makes to the career of students worldwide? 

Les Roches Marbella offers a comprehensive approach, where the strictest academic training is enriched by practice and leadership management fueled by curiosity, reflection, or self-criticism. Humility, discipline, ethics and passion for people are basic concepts that we never neglect in our training programs and that are the pillar of the success of our educational model, which goes beyond the traditional university experience. Also, during the pandemic, the school itself has had to adapt and for this, we have created a universal platform without borders that is capable of connecting students and teachers from over 90 countries with special courses on crisis management leadership and on the impact of COVID-19. 

Our role as educators is to create leaders who are prepared to work in environments marked by volatility. The next models of tourism will need flexible entrepreneurs, innovative, adaptable professionals with the faculties to analyze and solve problems immediately while always maintaining the human connection and interrelation which are essential elements. At Les Roches Marbella we work every day to achieve it. The data support us, without going any further, our students receive an average of four professional offers upon graduation to join the labour market and work at leading companies in the sector. But we have also managed to nurture self-employment and create important entrepreneurs (33% of Les Roches Alumni). 

How do you look at the future of Les Roches in India, any upcoming partnerships?

Les Roches has always worked towards creating the future of hospitality in India. They have not only donated through their alumni in the past but have also provided scholarships to merited Indian students and helped them in building their future. It has programs that span campuses around the globe and offers unique opportunities for entrepreneurial development. 

In addition, Les Roches has currently joined hands with RAHI (Rise Against Hunger India), a leading NGO that is working towards hunger eradication, supporting this noble initiative with an increased focus on providing meals to Covid-19 impacted communities, to provide 35,000 meals to the migrant groups of Mumbai that are suffering due to the outbreak of the pandemic. The relationship of Les Roches with India goes beyond Hospitality and we feel that projects like this are more needed now than ever before. 

Post Pandemic: How Hospitality education will change? 

The irruption of the coronavirus has left the classrooms empty. The new educational systems should establish mixed, semi-face-to-face models, with reduced classrooms that promote individualized education. At Les Roches Marbella we have accelerated processes, incorporated new technological support tools and have modified part of our programs. We believe that it is crucial that as the industry faces great challenges, our students also learn how to face these crisis situations in the future. 

However, management skills, multicultural and linguistic knowledge, and technical tools must be combined with strong ethical principles, a strong emotional and collective commitment. The so-called soft skills are more important than ever at a time when the global economy and society as a whole face unusual situations characterized by volatility, uncertainty and complexity. 

Employees will be key actors not only to implement the strategies in hospitality companies but also to create and improve them. Therefore, in the hospitality industry, the focus has always been and will continue to be on professionals with an aptitude for service and a desire to keep up with standards and meet expectations. This will continue to be the case in a post-health crisis world, and above all, companies will value and seek employees who are resilient and who can cope with ambiguity and disruptive change. 

In short, the world after the pandemic will necessarily imply that we understand training as a vital intrinsic necessity of a new lifestyle. 

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