Hotelier Middle East spoke to The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management (EAHM) operations manager, Maximilian Rauch about the impact the industry can have on consumers, the role of technology in education and how his hospitality journey has come full circle.
Have you always wanted to work in the hospitality sector?
Absolutely. It all started with my first summer job in Spain when I was 14 - I was pot washing and dishwashing in a restaurant in Alicante. A few weeks in, I was also supporting with the starter preparation for guests. Ultimately, during that three month summer job, I had developed a great passion for hospitality. Serving people and making people happy - whether that be with food, and/or creating an experience, it just grew on me and I just knew that I would be doing it for the rest of my life!
After numerous summer jobs, it was inevitable that I would study hospitality once I had left high school. It was just a question of where I would study in the future. And so here we are, my journey in hospitality brought me to Dubai.
Although I consider Spain as home, I have been living in Dubai ever since I relocated for my studies and have accumulated over 15 years of experience. I’ve worked with One&Only Resorts, Jumeirah Group and for the past six years, a small business unit of Jumeirah Group – The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management which is a hospitality management university. I’m currently operations manager as well as a 2013 alumnus! It’s great to have returned to my roots and to work with great colleagues and industry professionals, who were once my lecturers.
You are currently operations manager at EAHM. Are companies in the region becoming more receptive to sustainability initiatives?
Evidently, they are. Not only companies but numerous sectors within the government are also enforcing more regulations to control single use plastic materials and pushing for focus on biodegradable or reusable materials.
What can companies do to optimise energy consumption?
Generally speaking, it goes back to “basics” with the emphasis to become a more environmentally-friendly and sustainable planet. When I say basics, I am talking about turning off the tap once you’ve brushed your teeth - controlling the water usage at home. Lights, turn them off once you’ve left a room. A/C, switch to Auto or switch it off when it’s not required, I love opening windows in Dubai’s current weather. And I am sure that those routines would change again once Dubai’s summer heat hits, but at least for six months of the year, you’re aware of your contribution to the environment. Those to me are basics, but I think at times, we need to be reminded how those smaller things have a bigger impact overall.
Personally speaking from what we do at EAHM, we have replaced all of our light bulbs to LED bulbs and have installed multiple solar panels across the campus. We’ve also installed a food waste recycling machine in our kitchens to reduce carbon emissions and we make sure that we are responsible for our waste. We handle it ourselves, rather than call in recycling companies. Let’s just say, less recycling trucks on the road means less carbon emissions and I think it’s important for members of the community to be involved and accountable.
By the end of 2020, we plan and hope to reduce single-use plastic as much as possible. We do not serve plastic straws anymore in our cafeteria anymore (which is used by students, EAHM and Jumeirah colleagues) and we always opt more for biodegradable/reusable eating & drinking materials. In the very near future, we will install filtered tap water around our campus, which will work hand-in-hand with our current water dispenses.
Technology is playing an increasingly important role in hospitality. What are some of the trends that you are seeing emerge?
Of course, technology plays a key role in hospitality and I think that all hospitality universities should utilise modern technology in order to adapt and develop our future hospitality leaders of the world. That could be anything from: in-room energy control systems to managing documentation online: for example, moving hard-copy documents and contract signings to digital online applications in a bid to reduce printing and save paper.
Student learning management systems are also a great advantage within our field as students are able to access everything online and be connected to their peers and teachers in real-time.
These learning platforms provide educators, administrators and students with a secure and integrated system that creates a personalised learning environment. Not only does it enhance the student’s experience overall, but it’s the perfect platform for millennials, it’s less time-consuming for teachers and classrooms become paperless.
How did EAHM impact your career?
It’s definitely impacted me on a personal level as well as a professional level! I’ve made friends for life, and to be an EAHM alumni and then to work for EAHM years later, it’s definitely a unique experience.
Studying an international hospitality management degree really opened my eyes (personally), as well as doors (professionally)… I studied so many diverse electives, which completely opens your mind as a student or aspiring hotelier. From business, finance, law, strategic management, participating in consultancy projects, the degree gave me a solid knowledge of the industryWhat advice would you give to prospective hospitality management students?
Like with pursuing any career, you just need to hang in there! There will be ups and downs and you need to be resilient, and push through them. You will have an impact, you will witness the satisfaction of your guests and clients every hour of every day. Face to face interaction with new people and cultures as well as the feedback which you receive as a hotelier, is significant. From a personal point of view, there is nothing more rewarding than to have happy customers, clients, stakeholders, industry partners and students. A simple “thank you” or a smile is the highlight of your day because you simply have the power to impact a stranger’s life and to create a ‘one of a kind’ experience for them.