Inspirational Woman: Georgette Davey | Managing Director, Glion Institute of Higher Education

Georgette DaveyGeorgette Davey has had vast experience of both hospitality and academia, including spending considerable time working at Glion Institute of Higher Education and Les Roches Global Hospitality Education.

Born in Britain, Georgette studied at Norwich Hotel School, before graduating from the University of East Anglia with a Postgraduate Diploma in Education and Sheffield Hallam University with a Postgraduate Diploma in International Hospitality Management. She then spent eight years working at University Campus Suffolk, becoming a Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader for Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism. She joined Les Roches in 2001, as a professor of Human Resource Management in the BBA program. While there, she was also instrumental in developing courses for the Les Roches Jin Jiang campus, located in Shanghai, China. She originally joined Glion in 2009, working as Postgraduate Programme Leader and subsequently Dean of the Glion campus, before re-joining the institution in 2013 to launch Glion London, located in South West London.

As well as experience in teaching, Georgette also has considerable experience of working within the hospitality sector. She has held leadership positions in a range of organisations, including Hilton Worldwide and the boutique hotel, Adams Group. She combined these experiences by working as a consultant, developing accredited hospitality management schools in Brazil, Kazakhstan, Lebanon and Mexico. Returning to Switzerland, Georgette was appointed Managing Director of Glion campuses Switzerland and the United Kingdom in August 2017.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I am Managing Director of Glion Institute of Higher Education, a specialist hospitality management school which has a campus in London and two campuses in Switzerland. In terms of education, I spent eight years working at University Campus Suffolk, becoming a Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader for Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism. I then moved to Les Roches Global Hospitality Education in 2001, leading Human Resource Management courses, before originally joining Glion in 2009 as Postgraduate Programme Leader and subsequently Dean of the Glion campus. I then re-joined the institution in 2013, after two years at South Thamas College, to launch Glion London, our campus located in South-West London. I was appointed to my current role in August 2017.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No – my career was never planned. I did my original degree in hospitality at Norwich Hotel School and took my own path. I worked for a number of large mainstream hotels all around the world and I held leadership positions in a range of organisations, including Hilton Worldwide and the boutique hotel, Adams Group. Whilst I was working in industry back in 1993, I applied to my local college, University Campus Suffolk, for a role teaching in the field of hospitality (covering various specialisms) and it went from there. I have combined these experiences by working as a consultant, developing accredited hospitality management schools in Brazil, Kazakhstan, Lebanon and Mexico.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Getting to where I am today. When I moved to Switzerland in 2001 I planned to stay there for one year. Ten years later I was returning to the UK and launching our London campus, which uses the Swiss hotel management education model to ensure the employability and reputation of our graduates. In London we now have over 180 students on campus, and 48 nationalities, and it is just a wonderful place to learn. What I have achieved is put into perspective on the graduation stage. When I first started at Glion I would sit a few rows from the front; now I am on the front row and shaking the hands of our amazing students as they embark into the world of employment. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be doing the hosting.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Being female. When I first moved to Switzerland I was in a unique position where most of my predecessors and colleagues were male. Also the journey that we have been on in establishing Glion as a worldwide leader – we have a strong heritage, and thousands of alumni all around the world who are so inspiring.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? 

My passion – and my belief that I am doing the right thing by my students. Giving them the belief in what they do, and developing leaders for the future in the world of hospitality. I see them at open days after just three weeks serving guests with such confidence. They speak and converse – we have a huge amount of opportunities for students to interact in different forums – and the impact is virtually immediate.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

Personally I have benefitted from effective mentoring – teachers and others I have met in education and hospitality. They taught me to go into everything I do with passion, which gave me more confidence, and inspired me to build my career. I have colleagues who have asked me to be their mentor on an informal basis – sharing knowledge and insight, working alongside them in particular areas, and supporting their development for the future. I also witness first-hand the benefits of mentoring from our alumni who come back 20 years down the line to share their expertise with our students today.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for gender parity, what would it be?

Well, there are geographical differences, so it depends where you are based. In Switzerland, many females with young children aged 4-16 do not work for many reasons, one being that in many villages lunch is not considered as a school-related activity and not provided by the school. When I first started working in Switzerland in 2001 I was very much in the minority within an education setting. In the UK, and in hospitality, we are seeing more women holding senior positions now than there ever was. Historically, gender was linked to specific parts of the industry e.g. housekeeping and reception for women, food and beverage and kitchen for men. There is a big difference now. We have more females in the boardroom and more women holding senior roles in areas such as HR, marketing and operations, which is really positive to see. I expect that the pace of change will continue, building on this movement.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

To continue to be successful with Glion, an outstanding school, and build for the future. Within that we want to expand our reach and impact in London and beyond. There is also a need, especially in the UK, to change perceptions of hospitality and the opportunities that a qualification within the subject area brings. Whilst 51% of our alumni go into hospitality roles, the other 49% go into other sectors such as luxury, finance and in managerial positions. A hospitality degree is not just about aiming for a great job in hotels and restaurants; it provides the skills to go into any career. It is truly amazing to see where our alumni go geographically and the roles they end up in. An understanding of customer service excellence and what this means for every business, in every sector, is something our students will always appreciate.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Believe in yourself and do not let things stand in your way. Also achieve through passion. These are also the values we instill in our students.

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