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Hospitality is in the DNA of Balamurugan Subramani, pursuing Master’s in Hospitality, Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Glion Institute of Higher Education in Switzerland, as his family business of over 40 decades drew him towards the profession. But what makes his academic trajectory diverse, are the abundant networking and entrepreneurial opportunities that give his aspirations a global dimension.
“I am able to focus on not just hospitality, but also Science and technology to keep my entrepreneurial mind open and fresh,” says Balamurugan, who goes by the name of ‘Bala’ at the campus which is nestled in the hills above Montruex and offers spectacular views of the Alps and Lake Geneva.
Multicultural campus

Away from the tropical climes of his own city in Chennai, Bala has integrated well with the multicultural student community which he says is a must to make a career in hospitality. His campus is abuzz with activities ranging from sport competitions to art sessions, diners and more. “Every student must join a committee as it will allow them to explore their creative interests, while developing leadership and management skills by organising events and activities,” Bala says.
His course, which prepared him to identify a business model through design thinking and creativity, puts students into an industrial reality. “We are asked to work on real business situations as consultants which helps us get real-time feedback on our assignments and thought process,” Bala adds.

Course structure

In terms of the structure, his programme is organised into different modules, and each has courses associated to them. “For the academic classes, we have four different modules: Hospitality Operations, Disruptions & Talent Management, Innovation & Entrepreneurship: From Idea to Business Model, Scaling Your Business: Digitalization & Go-To market Strategy, and Financial Lifecycle & Funding. Each of these focus on particular themes that are essential for the creation of a business, and each course has activities to develop both theoretical knowledge and soft skills. My favourite classes were Creativity and Innovation in Hospitality, Design Thinking and Start-up Creation Process and Business Model Identification where we worked on a business idea for a whole month and then pitched our concept to real investors,” Bala says.

His Semester 1 course includes a business field trip as well, for which Bala went to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. “The trip is always organised in a state-of-the-art hospitality destination to inspire, meet experts and network. In Amsterdam, we saw companies who genuinely focus on sustainability. We also met a company focused on blockchain technologies and it was interesting to see how they developed a process for the creation of their own bitcoins. Having views from different businesses was both amazing and enriching,” he says.

In semester 2, students like him work on the organisation of an innovation fair, where they put into practice the skills learnt through the first semester.

Career plans

Presently in the final and third semester of his 2-year course, Bala has a choice between undertaking a 6-month internship or a Business Research Project on a topic of his interest. “The institute has a career and internship department that guide students in securing internships or jobs worldwide through its career portal,” Bala says, elaborating on his own plans of starting a company in Europe with one of his classmates at the hospitality institute.
He is grateful to his father who runs an event management company and a catering company in Chennai. “From a very young age, I used to go with him and observe the details. He has taught me – hospitality is an emotional connection between human beings. I hope to live up to that belief,” Bala says, committed to carrying on his family legacy.

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