We have been delving deep into the hospitality courses and careers over the last few weeks. Today, we’ve been chatting to Daniel Evans MIH about the work he’s doing at University College Birmingham (UCB), one of our partners on the Education Membership Scheme (EMS).
Tell us more about your current role and career.
I work as a hospitality finance lecturer at UCB and have worked in higher education for six years. The modules I teach are Revenue and Performance Analysis, Operational Finance and Financial Strategy on the hospitality programmes. I also teach finance on our culinary arts programmes.
My background is in hospitality, I worked for Northcote Leisure Group, based in Lancashire, in many different management roles. I completed a management training programme with the group in 2007 at Northcote (1 Michelin Star Restaurant with rooms) before working in the gastropub sector for eight years.
How has the EMS helped you over the years as a lecturer?
The EMS has been invaluable in developing opportunities for students to gain knowledge and understanding of the sector. It has many different benefits, including webinars, online journal publications and international student competitions. This semester there have been some fantastic webinars which address the current challenges faced by the industry. Many of the student’s assessments incorporate these issues, and students have been attending these to help them research the topic’s complexities.
How do you use it to effectively teach engaging lessons to students?
The EMS is used within the subject area to provide a contemporary industry perspective on real-world management challenges. As the webinars are recorded, students can access this material any time they wish. Often these resources can be a starting point for students to begin to explore the topic.
Which elements of the membership do your students find most valuable?
Students have enjoyed attending the annual Passion 4 Hospitality (P4H) event in the past. At UCB, we have encouraged students to meet with employers, securing graduate schemes and entry-level management roles in high profile hotel and restaurant companies. One of the essential elements of hospitality is networking and communicating/connecting with people. The P4H event is a fantastic platform to show students that they can achieve their potential and go far in the industry.
What feedback do students give on their membership of IoH?
Student feedback on the HOTS simulation and STR market data competitions at P4H have been overwhelmingly positive. The competitions have allowed students to showcase their talents whilst also challenging them to reflect on their own approaches and performance.
The feedback on the networking events and webinars has been as positive too. Students can see the challenges first hand from industry professionals, and this gives them a taste of the types of decisions they will face in the future.
How has membership as a lecturer helped you to connect with the wider industry?
For me, it has allowed me to ensure that the academic provision at UCB is in line with an industry perspective. This balance is key to producing graduates that are ready for the sector. Every time you meet new people, you always take away more knowledge and understanding than you had before, and these conversations often make their way back into the classroom.
How are you using the IoH resources to help with online learning?
We often refer to the management standards for the industry. This is an excellent checklist for students to reflect on their progress and highlight any gaps that need filling. At UCB, we aim to ensure that students have the tools and creative thinking to succeed in the industry. The management standards also support what lecturers are communicating and justify their inclusion in our provision. There have been many lecturers and students attending the IoH webinars this year as everyone is now becoming more connected through online learning.
If you had to recommend just one resource that is particularly valuable to a student what would it be?
I would recommend the webinars, as the topic range is so varied and contemporary. The IoH webinars can be used to inform students’ knowledge across all subject areas, not just finance. Another selling point is that when students can attend the live webinars, they can ask questions and become involved in the conversation.
How are you helping your students to prepare for how hospitality will look in the future?
At UCB, we are doing many things from critically reflecting on what we teach our students, to including technology into the provision. I use the HOTS simulation software to help students apply the financial principles of managing a budget and forecasting demand. I also have worked with STR to deliver the CHIA qualification to our students so that they understand how supply and demand affect prices and RevPAR. However, I think that the central skill students will require in the future is to be able to adapt, make decisions and working effectively together in a team. I try to give students unfamiliar and complex situations so that they can practice their decision-making skills and have a chance to reflect on their outcomes. Team-working is always vital in being successful both in the classroom and industry.
How important is additional learning for securing work outside of a college or university course?
Firstly, having a degree in hospitality will open many doors for students on graduate schemes in a global industry. However, commercial awareness is also vital. Understanding the complexities and challenges of the external environment will provide the context in which the learned skills can be successfully applied. Any learning that enhances commercial awareness will be an advantage in an interview and for students to have successful careers.