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Alpine Center, the Swiss Business School for Hotel & Tourism Management Education in Greece held its 22nd Graduation Ceremony at the Athens Ledra Marriott Hotel on 29 November 2010. The ceremony was especially monumental this year since it was the first time Alpine Center appeared with its new partner, City Unity College of Athens. Alpine now constitutes City Unity College’s School of Hospitality & Tourism Management.
“Synergies are what the business world is all about these days. In times of crisis, synergies bring results greater than the sum of the parts. That’s our vision with Alpine Center, to work in concert and create a unified college that offers the widest choices of full-time and part-time specialist programmes of study preparing students for exciting careers” said Mr Harris Geronikolas, President of City Unity College in his opening speech.
Mrs Sybil Hofmann, President of Alpine Center honoured the new partnership with City Unity College citing that this will now give students the opportunity to be part of a larger and richer college environment. She was delighted to inform that the student body has now expanded to include students from 45 different countries which demonstrates that “Education” is a promising “Tourism Product” for Greece.
Over 350 capacity crowd of industry leaders, academics, diplomats, members of the media, and family and friends of the graduates were in attendance to enjoy the colourful proceedings.
Eighty-three students received their Swiss Diploma in Hotel Management, Swiss Diploma in Events & Conventions Management, Swiss Diploma in Culinary Arts, BA(Hons) International Hospitality & Tourism Management and Master’s International Hospitality & Tourism Leadership, conferred by Alpine’s education partners, DCT Switzerland, the University of Wales, and Edexcel, UK.
The two keynote speakers were Mr Enda Mullin, General Manager of Starwood Hotels & Resorts at the Costa Navarino new Mediterranean destination, and Mr Georgios Drakopoulos, Director General of SETE—the Greek Association of Tourism Enterprises. Mr Mullin inspired the students by sharing with them the highlights of his career, how he accepted various posts in different countries including England, Scotland, South Africa, Malaysia and Ireland before accepting to open the two Starwood Hotels in the Costa Navarino region. Mr Mullin’s message to the graduates was clear and simple: “if you do not genuinely love people, this industry is not for you”, “Take time to learn the business before you jump into a managerial position”, “Be inspired each day and learn something new”, and finally “Look yourself in the mirror every single working day and ask yourself a very challenging question: did I add value today?”
Mr Georgios Drakopoulos spoke about the important role that the human element should play in a much-needed new model of tourism development in Greece. Mr Drakopoulos explained how this role would be evident at the level of policy and politicians, at the level of education and training, and the level of image and social status of tourism professionals. Using data from SETE’s own extensive research, Mr Drakopoulos discussed the balance of labour supply and demand in tourism, both in terms of numbers and in terms of education and talent management and retention, emphasizing that even in a financial climate that necessitates minimizing costs, professional training should be seen as a long-term investment by both employees and employers. Mr Drakopoulos urged the graduands to work hard, with patience and perseverance in order to make their own future bright, stressing that the material and ethical rewards of their efforts would be great.
Over 15 special awards were presented to deserving students. Sponsors included: Air France KLM, Aldemar Hotels & Spa, Aquis Hotels & Resorts, Athenaeum Intercontinental Hotel, Athens Ledra Marriott, Capsis Hotels & Resorts, GEA Switzerland, Grace Hotels Group, Grecotel S.A., HC&I ops, Interamerican Athens Branch, Nestlé Food Services S.A., Olympic Air; Sani S.A., Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Hotel Grande Bretagne, and The DMC Greece. Alpine’s Hotel School Director, Alan Furlong, thanked all the sponsors for their genuine support, encouragement and loyalty over the years.
Other speakers at the ceremony were three graduating students who delivered the valedictorian speeches on behalf of their classes, each highlighting the rewards of having studied at Alpine Center! They thanked the faculty and staff for “driving them to their limits” but at the same time for guiding and assisting them along the way.
Dr Birgit Black, Academic Dean of DCT University Center in Switzerland and Mr Mike Reed, Validation Unit representative of the University of Wales addressed the students and conferred the respective diplomas and degrees.
On behalf of the faculty, Alpine Center’s Academic Dean Dr Georgios Papageorgiou expressed his pride for the achievements of the graduands, and reminded them that their studies at Alpine were not only aimed at learning about tourism and hospitality, but centred on developing the students’ confidence in their own thinking and critical ability, and to learning how to learn on their own in order to keep enriching their knowledge and experience throughout their career. Dr Papageorgiou added that graduands should bank on their personality, character, integrity and work ethic as much as on their credentials, and wished that their future would see them flourish to their full potential.
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Alpine Center, the Swiss Business School for Hotel & Tourism Management Education in Greece