Close links between The Bahamas and Switzerland have long existed in the financial services sector, but now a growing number of Bahamians and residents are waking up to professional development and educational opportunities overlooked in the past.
Travis Mackey is among them. In 2020, he completed a post graduate diploma programme at Les Roches, a leading hospitality business school in Crans-Montana, Switzerland.
“I did research on hospitality schools and Les Roches kept popping up, so I applied,” said Mackey who hopes to one day open a boutique resort in The Bahamas.
An enterprising professional committed to leveling up his career trajectory, the 29-year-old felt Les Roches served up what it promised “academic rigor with a twist of innovation and entrepreneurship.”
Living and learning with a global cohort of accomplished peers, all with diverse perspectives and life experiences, helped round out Mackey’s already impressive resume. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics from China’s Beijing Union University and an MBA from Collège INSA in Montreal, Quebec.
“The only way to understand how to profitably run a small, boutique hotel is to go through all these avenues of learning,” said Mackey, who attended Les Roches flagship campus, nestled in the beautiful Swiss Alps, close to the world-famous ski resort of Crans-Montana.
The school offers study abroad opportunities. Students can spend a semester at one of two campuses in Marbella, Spain or Shanghai, China.
Les Roches, explained Mackey, offered a dynamic learning experience. Post graduate students typically visit Dubai or they could tour resorts and attend conferences that offer extensive networking opportunities with top executives.
Still, figuring out the move from The Bahamas to Switzerland could prove to be a daunting task for some. One company guiding Bahamians and residents through the process is Swiss Learning.
“We help smooth the path for successful entry and matriculation through boarding schools and hotel management institutions, as well as winter and summer camps for students,” said Swiss Learning Founder and President, Christophe Xavier Clivaz.
“The camp experience offers a remarkable try before you buy opportunity, since it serves up a taste of what’s to come if students and parents were on the fence about full-time study abroad in Switzerland.”
In understanding the needs of both markets, the company helps turn possibilities into educational pathways.
Swiss Learning represents a consortium of secondary, university and professional development institutions in Switzerland. For prospective students, it can troubleshoot, provide a wealth of insider information and make the transition significantly less stressful. For the institutions in its network, Swiss Learning provides assurance that only promising candidates get recruited.
For more than a decade, Swiss Learning has worked closely with 14 boarding and two tertiary-level hotel schools helping to expand the pipeline of international students who know and want to go to Switzerland.
“Switzerland sells itself,” said Clivaz. “It’s a stable, multilingual jurisdiction that makes use of innovation and technology. It provides a superior learning environment against a beautiful backdrop. In short, it’s ideal.”
There are many factors driving awareness of the benefits of learning and living in Switzerland, whether it’s leading resorts in The Bahamas seeing value in providing staff members with professional training opportunities or financial services providers sent overseas with their families.
“A Swiss Education benefited me to achieve my university goals,” said Valerie Guggenheim, a permanent resident of The Bahamas since 2017.
A private banker who has worked in New York, Paris, London and Geneva, Guggenheim chose Switzerland when it came time to educate her two children.
“On a personal level, my children and I are part of a multi-cultural and international community. We became citizens of the world. We are a family, and the friendships we develop all around the world remained 40 years later. This bond we share created a very rich network of contacts and friends for a lifetime.”
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