The IMInterview: Gareth Currie

22 October 2019

As Undergraduate Programme Leader, Mr. Currie oversees the education of the vast majority of our students. We sat down with him to discuss how IMI best prepares students for success in the industry...

IMI: Good morning Mr. Currie and thanks for taking the time to talk to us. You started teaching at the school in 2005 - how have IMI’s undergraduate offerings developed during your time as programme leader?

GC: IMI has always been known for its hospitality management programmes; however, to provide students with a broader range of opportunities to study at, and benefit from, the educational experience offered at IMI, in the last 10 years we have added a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Degree programme in International Culinary Arts, one of only a few schools internationally at the time of launch to offer this discipline at Bachelors level; The Swiss Degree, a national qualification in Switzerland which we expect to receive full Swiss Federal recognition when we get to the end of the three-year review period in Summer 2020; and, most recently, two additional Business Management pathways to complement our three hospitality offerings. 

IMI: What do you consider to be the main strengths of IMI’s undergraduate degrees?

GC: The international focus of the programme is a key strength. The programme is designed and delivered by experts in their fields from Switzerland, Germany, Greece, Australia, Sweden, Turkey, Cyprus, the UK and the USA. All have relevant industry and academic experience and the knowledge to ensure students are ready for international careers.

IMI: What are the benefits of studying at an international school?

GC: There are many. For IMI students, it is the wide network of contacts made while studying which are invaluable as their careers progress; also the international work experience opportunities, not just in Switzerland, that are embedded in our programmes to provide students with a much broader perspective and assist in defining long-term career goals; and, particularly at IMI, the opportunity to focus fully on their study programmes with no distractions related to accommodation, travel, food or social needs as these are all provided for on our lakeside campus.

IMI: If you could offer one piece of advice to students embarking on a career in the hospitality industry, what would it be?

GC: Work for companies whose hospitality products and services you love.

IMI: Short but sweet! There are obviously many hospitality and business schools located in Switzerland, what do you think makes IMI different from other schools?

GC: The family atmosphere. We say it so many times but it is as true for those who work at IMI as it is for the students who experience it and are part of it. We are not a corporate entity controlled by shareholders looking to maximise returns, we are owned by a family and we espouse family values of hospitality, nurture and care to everyone who passes through our doors.

IMI: What’s your funniest memory of working in the hospitality industry? 

GC: When I worked as a Food & Beverage Manager for the Marriott, our new General Manager was staying in a suite in the hotel until his permanent accommodation was available. He was awoken, late one night, by a noise in the hotel corridor and, using the hotel door peekhole, saw that a guest had left their room and was sleepwalking down the corridor. As the GM was not suitably dressed to assist the guest he phoned reception and asked the night porter to come to the bedroom corridor and guide the guest quietly back to his room which he had noted was room 254. The night porter duly arrived and very quietly took the guest by the hand, still sleepwalking, and, having misheard the room number, used his security key to open Room 252, let the guest in, and closed the door behind him. Within a few seconds the fully awoken and startled sleepwalking guest appeared back in the corridor with the rudely awoken and equally startled occupant of Room 252. The next morning the GM compensated both guests overnight stays. A lesson that attention to detail, no matter the circumstances, is a defining quality.

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