Hotelschool The Hague In The Media

19 January 2015

Financial Telegraaf

Below is the translated article with Susanne Stolte from the published January edition of the Financial Telegraaf.

Written by Paola van de Velde.



"We develop the leaders of the 21st century."

Hotelschool The Hague and Amsterdam, is regarded as one of the best business schools internationally. Susanne Stolte, President of Board of Directors: “We develop the leaders of the 21st century."

The list of top managers amongst the alumni is impressive, and increasingly more alumni have glorious careers outside the hospitality industry. Former students include Marc Bolland, who, after a career at Heineken became CEO of the British store Marks & Spencer, Dirk Jan van der Hats, CEO of SNS Securities, John van der Ent, CEO at Etam Group and Patrick Bakker, who holds sway over Adecco Netherlands.

For many years, the German born Susanne Stolte was active in the travel industry. First as an entrepreneur and later as top women at Thomas Cook the Netherlands. Between 2009 and 2013, she was the chair of the Dutch Association of Commissioners and Directors (NCD). In 2012, she accepted her current position as President of the Board of Directors of the Hotelschool.

What is the common thread in your career?

"The last years, this has undoubtedly been leadership development. During the time in the NCD, I was primarily engaged in learning new leadership styles for the wise generation, the over-50s. Here at the Hotelschool, we stimulate the students aged under 25 years old to develop themselves into contemporary leaders. I come from the business, and spent four years working as a travel industry lecturer at the Dutch College of Tourism and Transport in Breda. Therefore, the education sector was not entirely new to me. My motive is to bring the business and education closer together, and to connect training and practice better."

What is the secret of the long-term success of Hotelschool The Hague?

"Clearly, the tremendous focus on the development of the so-called soft skills and the 'yes, I can' attitude. From the very first day we are training our students to work together, to get to know themselves, to think in a customer-centric, hospitable way, in short, to increase their empathic ability. And to work in an entrepreneurial manner. At the moment, precisely these skills, are highly sought after, not only within the hotel industry, but also in the corporate world. "

70% of the students have a job immediately after graduation. Why are they so popular?

"Today, organisations are in need of a high good will factor to become, and remain successful. Providing service, by really helping the customer is the first priority. Hospitality, a term that encompasses much more than just the Dutch translation is not only in the hospitality industry a need, but also at banks, insurance companies, recruitment agencies, or retailers. At the moment, every business needs to have a friendly, human face, in which the customer feels at home, is really appreciated and heard. "

All first-year students are living at the campus. How does this campus experience form the students in the so-called Skotel?

"We just celebrated our 85 years anniversary. At the reunion of former students in November, I regularly heard that this first single year is very important. During this year, students are making friendships for their life. Next to that, everyone is sharing a room with a classmate, which also enhances the ability to cooperate. The students will understand each other better and are able to sharpen their social skills in a short time. "

Are the alumni also very popular because of their international experience?

"Yes. Obviously, the hospitality sector is extremely international. This can also be seen in our student population. Out of the current 2,200 students studying on our two campuses in The Hague and Amsterdam 40% is non-Dutch. The students come from 54 different countries. Therefore, all classes are given in English. Thereby, the first internship needs to be followed abroad. By this way, the students learn how to deal with people from diverse cultures and backgrounds. Worldwide, this skill is highly valued on the list of recruiters and multinational corporations. "

Shortly after your appointment as director of the Hotelschool you also did an internship at the Ritz Carlton in Hong Kong. How was that?

"In one word, amazing. That city is so dynamic. There is a lot of room for innovation. Because I wanted to experience what my students experience, I have worked at all departments of the Ritz Carlton. The atmosphere at the Ritz Carlton truly appealed to me. Their motto is: We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen. This sense of hospitality, on the basis of equality, appeals to me. In this way, you can optimally pamper your guests. Every morning started with a short line-up, where all employees were challenged to think how we would surprise the guests again today. "

What did you bring back from Hong Kong?

"First of all, I recommend all of our students to work in Asia, for some time. It will give you a totally different mind-set. In Asia an optimistic and very competitive atmosphere could be observed, everyone is trying to get the best out of themselves. They are constantly wondering: how could I be better? Therefore, the Asian people dare to experiment more. Secondly, the speed in which changes can be deployed. In Europe, we are often a little too relaxed, too hesitant and because of that too slow. In Hong Kong, a day of meetings to develop a new strategy is already too long. Here, we are accustomed doing so for months. This could be faster, whereby more time and attention is available for the business and the customer. "

Is that rapid adaptability also important for education?

"Definitely. The world around us is changing rapidly. Therefore, the education should also be very flexible. The content of the curriculum must be constantly adapted to the changing demands of the industry and the labour market. Annually, we are sharpening our education program. This month we will have a new dean, the American Peter Starks. He will provide our curriculum with more blended learning - a combination of online learning, teamwork and coaching education. "


                    The original article in De Telegraaf