Discussing the positive impact of education with EHL Hospitality Business School’s Ines Blal

EHL Hospitality Business School

Exploring proud moments and challenging situations, Dr Ines Blal, the Executive Dean and Managing Director of EHL Hospitality Business School, sits down to discuss further with Stephanie Mullins, Director of specialist business education PR consultancy BlueSky Education.

Dr Blal’s research and consulting often focuses on the financing possibilities for small and medium hotels, and the effect of distribution choices on their sales performance, but she also holds the position of Managing Director of EHL Hospitality Business School, deploying an expertise in the management of education, curriculum development, digitalization of education, implementation of innovative teaching practices, academic governance, and more.

So what are her thoughts on the business education industry? It’s time we heard more about Dr Blal and her insights:

What’s been the proudest moment for you as Dean at EHL?

With five years in one of the lesser known, yet interesting positions in academia, I am grateful for having had many proud moments. All of them are related to a team achievement. There is nothing more impressive than seeing a team working, learning and delivering together. The one I am the proudest of is how faculty and staff managed to turn the difficulties related to the Covid pandemic into a project for digitalization full of opportunities for the learners and faculty.

The pandemic years were, similar to what other Deans, provosts and presidents shared, challenging in every way.

I was proud, but more often I felt grateful and humbled to witness how the entire EHL community came together during the pandemic to support one another. And now, how we are coming together to leverage our insights and using them to the benefit of teaching and learning.

From the start of the pandemic, every member of the EHL community came together to support each other. Not doing anything and staying still was never on the table for any of us. I guess that being anchored in the hospitality DNA drove this attitude. i.e., students, staff, alumni, supporting those in difficult situations; faculty sharing tips and best practices to create this wealth of common knowledge and experience. Administration and my team piled up emergency meetings sometimes three times a day, and each time, came up with evidence to support recommendations, ideas, suggestions and risk assessment. When things started to stabilize, we realized the extent of the experiment we had conducted. Once we gathered again as a community and reverted to our traditional events (graduations, celebration parties, etc.), we launched the project Digital for Teaching and Learning with a specific purpose: leverage technology to tackle the fundamentals of pedagogy. In other words, deep learning: student engagement combined with a UX approach to the learning journey. Together, we are continuing to experiment on the tools and options offered by the Edtech landscape and co-creating as a community with our learners. What’s not to be proud of?

What’s a challenge that you’ve overcome, and how did you do this during your time as Dean?

The challenge is related to this unique position: at the crossroad between students, faculty and management constraints and opportunities of an independent school. It’s an on-going challenge that consists of keeping an open mind, listening to all different perspectives and being creative in the solutions. I rely on an entrepreneurial mindset. My focus is on listening to everyone’s perspective andmost importantly, their pain points. Then I work with them collectively to find a common solution with an evidence-based approach. From my end, I focus on remaining clear on the objective(s) and deliverables, and be present when needed. By doing so, I can ensure that the solution will be stable and, that through the process, each party appreciates the context of others.

Do you think that the business education industry could improve? How?

There is always room for learning in whatever action we conduct in life. I am dedicated to education, and business education in particular because I believe that it is a powerful human and social leverage. Businesses are a key player in our society. Having access to the education of the people that make those organizations is a very interesting way to have a positive impact on society.

Today, we are at a tipping point in education. Our fundamentals (role of research, contribution to society, business models) are being challenged. It is an opportunity to address burning subjects such as the personalized learning journey, individual development as a manager, and our role in society. At EHL, we are working on leveraging our human-centric skills into the learner journey to support the development of future and current managers. I trust that we are not alone in working on these elements and that the business education industry will continue to learn and develop.

What are your hopes for the teaching of business and hospitality for the future?

As mentioned above, my hope is one of positive impact. With our teams we are working on providing an education that is not limited to a classroom but one that considers the learner as a person in development that learns throughout the day, month and semester. Our goal, and we imagine the shared hope of others in education, is to bring the focus on the learners. In other words, not only focus on which course they need to validate, but also work on supporting them in their growth path.

As for teaching in hospitality, I hope that the faculty keeps that passion for transmitting the art of doing and passion for a craft. My hope for hospitality management education is that it becomes recognized for the richness it offers. From the training of soft skills to anchoring management in real-life practice of theoretical management frameworks, hospitality education has a lot to bring to the table of business education and education in general.

See more articles from BlueSky Education.

1 Comment

  1. mithila on January 23, 2023 at 14:53

    Exceptionally well written on leadership course topic. I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this subject?.I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit more.Kudos!