Niki Kervezee, HTH Alumna Helped Establish Hotel School In Bhutan
- 5 min read
After graduating from Hotelschool The Hague in 2011 and performing my management internship at a record label in Berlin, I kept working in the music industry. I organised different festivals, show productions and concert tours, but somehow ended up at the corporate side of the industry. After five years, I slowly started to realise I felt the need to be more involved in social work.
Even though the music industry was very interesting and dynamic, I was up for a new challenge after a number of years. One day in August, Floris Pocerattu (also Alumnus) and I came across a Facebook post of a fellow Hotelschool student, stating that he was looking for people to help to establish a hotel school in Bhutan. We looked at each other and within a second we decided to take this opportunity. However, it did take us five months to obtain a visa.
The youth unemployment in Bhutan is remarkably high and there is an urgent need for education in order to give young adults a career opportunity. At the same time, the tourism industry is growing rapidly. This inspired a collaboration of hospitality experienced people from Switzerland and The Netherlands to open the Bongde Institute of Hospitality and Tourism: an institute which allows students to learn everything about Rooms Division, Kitchen and Food & Beverage service. Furthermore, it guarantees them a practical internship and a career at a hotel or restaurant. The institute has its own restaurant and hotel where students get to practise what they have learned in class, just like we did at Hotelschool The Hague.
My main responsibilities as General Manager were on a tactical and strategic level: operations and finance, as well as leading a team of teachers and other staff to negotiate with the government about licences and scholarships. We oversaw the student affairs and hotel operations (assessing exams, reservations, etc), carried out by our staff. The government and other educational bodies also involved us in improving the education in Bhutan.
This not only included operations and finance, but also organising proper meals for the students, assessing the exams and making reservations for the restaurant. Every day was very different, especially in a country like Buthan. As we even had to Google where Bhutan is situated on the world map, you can imagine that we faced a real culture shock upon arrival.
Most of our Bhutanese students have never seen a hotel before, as they originate from the countryside. It was a blessing to introduce them to and make them become passionate about the Hospitality Industry, with the use of what I learned during my study. It is very exciting to see that everything you learned at Hotelschool The Hague can finally be put into practice, especially with a job like this.
Above all, it made me realise how valuable a practical oriented study like the one at Hotelschool is. Not many people have been introduced to the business industry during the first day of their studies in the way we were. Especially courses like Team Management Skills and Personal Selling have prepared me for the real world. I dare to grab as many opportunities as I can and always advise people to say “yes” as much as possible. Outside your comfort zone is where the fun happens!
Since a couple of months, I am working as Senior Operations Specialist at the International Secretariat of World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Last year, WWF launched a new strategy that harnesses the strengths of the WWF network in a shared vision, focussing on six major goals: water, wildlife, the ocean, climate and energy, forests, and food. There are three key drivers of environmental problems: markets, finance and governance. Together these are called the nine "Practices".
As the operational spider in the web, I maintain an oversight of all relevant aspects of Practice operations and take action to resolve issues arising, consulting as necessary with the Head of Conservation Office. I function as the point person in the Global Conservation Department for Practice Leaders and their core teams and provide support on issues related to Operations, Finance, integration and progress reporting. Summarised, I have the ambitious task to "make it happen". And that's what Hotelschool Alumni are usually pretty good at!
Are you interested in seeing more about our Alumni? Then check out the 3rd Edition of our HTH Alumni Magazine, the ALMA.