Opportunity is essential in realising career potential

Opportunity is the catalyst in providing professional career development. Motivation and enthusiasm are key ingredients but it is opportunity that makes it happen.

The Future Leaders Programme for the alumni of the Sala Bai Hotel School is a good example of providing such an opportunity. Supported by the Friends of Sala Bai Australia (FOSBA), Swiss-Bellhotel International, the Blue Mountains International Hotel School and eHotelier, the programme has been designed to provide just that opportunity for the participants to develop their professional knowledge and leadership skills in support of their career ambitions.

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Professor Peter Jones (left) and Sala Bai School graduates

The Sala Bai Hotel School is located in Siem Reap, Cambodia and every year provides professional hospitality training and education for 150 young Cambodians. It is funded entirely by sponsors and supporters of Agir pour le Cambodge, the French NGO that created and launched the hospitality training programmes in 2002.

Tourism is the lifeblood of Siem Reap with millions of tourists visiting the world UNESCO heritage sites of Angkor Wat and the Temples of Angkor every year. Providing a high-quality hospitality guest experience to those visitors is vital in maintaining and enhancing the reputation of Siem Reap as an international tourism destination.

The hotel school does not only make a significant contribution to the professional standards of the local industry through its graduates, but it also meets its charitable purpose of creating opportunities for young people, particularly women, in Cambodia. The size and skill needs of the local hospitality industry provide a ready demand for the high-quality education and training provided by the school. The young Cambodians who are selected from the 500 or more candidates who apply annually follow a year-long course. Taught in English, the course provides specialisms for restaurant, front office, housekeeping, kitchen and spa. The courses include periods of internship in the local industry. The rationale of the school is to use professional hospitality training to help to combat poverty and human trafficking, where access to education and vocational training is often difficult, especially for women.

The Future Leaders Programme is a logical development from the initial courses offered through the school, and is designed to foster and develop leadership potential and to encourage the alumni to progress through the career opportunities the industry provides. The programme consists of a series of 3-day workshops, with the most recent workshop held just before Christmas 2018. The focus of the workshop was twofold, one on the importance of communication in leadership and secondly in designing and delivering a staff training programme. Conducted by Professor Peter Jones, Dean of the eHotelier Academy, supported by his wife Susan Jones, the workshop of sixteen delegates participated in an intensive action learning programme that saw them; working in teams, problem-solving, making collaborative decisions and implementing practical solutions.

As the Director of Sala Bai, Jean-Maurice Bertrand said of the Future Leaders Programme:

“This programme significantly enhances the middle management potential of the participants and enhances our reputation in the local industry. It makes a real difference to those taking part who can take those new skills back into their jobs the next day. We are grateful to our supporters for creating such a unique opportunity for the Sala Bai Hotel School.”

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