New undergraduate program manager Dr. Jorge Arnanz talks us through his fascinating career and the school’s latest adventures in innovation (Image: Nuno Acacio)
Whoever said ‘travel broadens the mind’ clearly had Jorge Arnanz in mind.
César Ritz Colleges Switzerland’s new undergraduate program manager has had his passport stamped more than most. Born and raised in Madrid, Dr. Arnanz’ studies (in tourism – what else?) have taken him here, there and everywhere, from France, where he earned his BA, to the UK where he studied for his MAS, and finally to Thailand, for his Ph.D. Exhausted just reading about it? We haven’t even got to his career yet.
We caught up with Dr. Arnanz to hear more about his life and work.
Talk us through your career so far?
“I’ve worked in many fields in the travel industry. I’ve worked for international hotel chains in Spain and the UK, such as NH Hotels and InterContinental, as well as Spain’s largest travel company, Viajes El Corte Ingles. I was also a consultant for arguably Spain’s most specialist, high-end travel company, Madrid and Beyond, catering to the North American market. In 2013, after studying an advanced course in community management, I took on a new challenge as the company’s social media manager.
“In January 2015, I made my biggest career move to date and began my new life in Thailand. I started teaching English, tourism, hospitality, and business management-related subjects at one of the top private universities in Bangkok, Sripatum University. Two years later, I co-founded El Tapeo, a very popular Spanish restaurant in Bangkok, where I am currently in charge of marketing.
In 2019, I decided to combine all my skills – lecturing, consulting, and researching – with a department management position at Sripatum, which eventually led me to one of the greatest professional opportunities of my life: in June 2021, I became the undergraduate program manager at César Ritz Colleges Switzerland’s Brig campus.”
How are you finding life on campus?
“My initial idea when I got the job was to live in either Sion or Sierre, two of Brig’s neighboring towns, as I felt I would be more comfortable living in a French-speaking area. But when I arrived in Brig, I just fell in love with everything about it, the cobbled streets near the main square, the little bars and terraces, and, of course, the Stockalper Palace, with its characterful towers.
“Living in Brig means that I can get more involved with the community around the college and find many more opportunities for us and our students I feel so privileged to enjoy such epic views of the mountains from almost every office and classroom.”
What’s the most important part of your job?
“Apart from managing the programs and making sure everything runs smoothly from the academic side, I would say it’s listening to the students and trying to solve whatever problems or concerns they might have. I’m very lucky to have a strong team behind me and a dean who trusts and supports my decisions.”
You’re lecturing in innovation, which has its own, dedicated module. Can you tell us more?
“In this module, you’ll learn about the processes and the value of decision-making from an ethical perspective. You’ll come to understand the influence of technology and modern communication on management. It will prepare you for managing team dynamics and to grasp the need for innovation creation for business sustainability.
“The first thing I do, is have students share some recent projects, people, or products they consider to be ‘game changers’. Then, I’ll ask them to reflect on how these innovators came up with their ideas and what their initial goals were. It’s all about knowing and empathizing with your customer first, in order to get a handle on their struggles and how they can be eased.
“Once problem areas have been defined, we can start generating ideas – the more ideas, the better! These will be categorized and the best will be selected and transformed into prototypes to be tested in the market.”
We also hear students will also have a brand-new space to test out their ideas?
“Yes! Orbis, César Ritz Colleges’ first innovation club, caters to a maximum of 12 students per term, carefully selected based on their applications. Anyone interested in joining can apply at the beginning of the term, and the club is open to both bachelor’s and master’s students. I’ll be supervising, along with my colleagues, Dr. Paola Ossola and Dr. Olga Larina.
“The club allows students to work on real-life projects within the tourism and hospitality industry and to put their creativity and problem-solving skills to good use to find the best customer-centric solutions.
“Each term, we set a new project, or series of projects, for members to work on and give them exclusive use of the room. This space has been designed, conceived, and branded entirely by students, right down to the name and logo. It’s the perfect co-working space to develop your ideas and turn them into something real.”