Interview by Yash Panchal
r. Nigel Viegas is the Executive Director of Bahrain Institute of Hospitality and Retail (BIHR), Kingdom of Bahrain. His academic qualifications include a B.Sc. & Master’s degree in Hospitality Management and a three-year Diploma in Hotel & Hospitality Management.
Mr. Viegas has also been the Director at BIHR. Prior to BIHR, he has been the Director, Regional Operations/General Manager and Director of Sales & Mktg. and Training Manager at Gourmet Taxi WLL; Front Office and Revenue Development Manager at Bahrain International Hotel, Kingdom of Bahrain; FO Manager and Revenue Development Manager at Le Royal Meridien Jumeirah Beach; Front Office Manager at Novotel, Zurich, Switzerland; Sous Chef at Ramada Renaissance Zurich, Switzerland; Service Trainee/Head Waiter at Hotel Victoria Relais Chateau and Night Manager at Asia The Dawn, Shimla, India.
Mr. Viegas’ experience in the education industry and his views on why it is the best industry to work in
Education is a legacy that nobody can take away from you, it is a noble profession and is actually a vocation. I am proud to share that being part of BIHR – HTMi (Dadabai Holding) is a great accomplishment in my career. I joined the company in 2006 as a faculty member, successively appointed as Dean and then Director, it was not easy as I had to go through a lot of ups and downs, eventually got my career ladder which took me to the top being the Executive Director of the institute thereby providing the highest quality education in the field of hospitality and retail, meeting internationally recognized academic standards and industry requirements to be able to match the specific needs of its varied student population.
The Group’s vast experience within the hospitality and tourism industry has translated into a wealth of data crucial to defining the Institute’s curriculum, training standards, policies, and procedures. BIHR has twice been awarded the rating ‘GOOD’ - Grade 2 from the Education & Training Quality Authority - NQAAET, Kingdom of Bahrain successively. BIHR boasts of a Swiss-inspired hospitality school campus with simulated learning labs, including one of GCC’s largest training kitchen with state-of-the-art equipment.
Why is it the best industry to work in?
The dynamic world of hospitality is one of the fastest growing, stimulating and innovative industries. If you want a career that can take you around the world and offers a wide scope of opportunities, then consider this for you. Due to the growth in tourism, the hotel industry is flourishing at a rapid pace and some of the popular brands like Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., Marriott International Inc., InterContinental Hotels Group Plc, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc., Accor Group, Indian Hotels Co Ltd., ITC Ltd., and Four Seasons Holdings Inc. are spreading their empire in every continent. Their expansion has created many job opportunities around the world.
Hospitality and tourism employ over 235 million people worldwide. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council and career prospects in the industry expand rapidly every year.
Mr. Viegas’ philosophy of leadership
Leadership is working with goals and vision. It is influence and service for others. Leading people with clear direction, a positive attitude and a diplomatic approach paves the way to create a great team and to the achievement of the company’s mission and vision.
Challenges faced as the executive director of BIHR
Challenges are always a part of every day’s life, be it at home or at the workplace, and it is more challenging when in the workplace because there are cultural differences that thrive in. However, each and every one has to abide by the organization’s norms and goals along with the company’s vision and mission.
It is interesting to note that Bahrain is a growing tourism hub in the GCC region and there is a skills gap when it comes to employing Bahrainis, hence BIHR has to work hard to be able to attract them to join the industry.
The government has taken great initiatives to support this as it is a national call, hence, BIHR is working simultaneously with government entities, TAMKEEN and The Ministry of Labor and Social Development addressing and overcoming these challenges. Nowadays, a number of locals have been placed successfully in the industry and still counting.
Curriculum of BIHR
BIHR boasts of a Swiss-inspired hospitality school campus with simulated learning labs, including one of GCC’s largest training kitchens with state-of-the art equipment. Currently, there are students from more than 16 different nationalities studying at BIHR. BIHR encourages multi-national and cultural diversity and is non-biased to any nationality or culture. Different events and festivals are celebrated for each of the nationality on campus, which is organized by the students.
Along with academic learning, BIHR provides guaranteed internship and employment opportunities to all its students with its industry partners in Bahrain and overseas.
Growth of students through placement opportunities available at BIHR
Over the last decade, BIHR - HTMi has been performing as a learning institute evolving around market demands producing over 8000 graduates who have been placed in job positions not only in Bahrain’s hospitality and tourism industry but have expanded to Kuwait and other GCC countries, East Asia. BIHR is currently working on internship/placement of students and student exchange programmes for the United States of America and the United Kingdom.
The opportunity is vast for BIHR – HTMi students and graduates. Those who want to continue their career to a Bachelor’s Degree can further their education to our campuses in Singapore and Switzerland.
Mr. Viegas on his relation with the students and his availability for them being the director of the institute
Being the Executive Director for BIHR - HTMi is not easy, it is a fast-paced environment and a huge responsibility, balancing my time and attention between internal and external stakeholders, maintaining relationship with industry partners and government body, at the same allocating time to attend and conduct career guidance, periodical meetings with our students and their parents whenever necessary.
On campus, I have an open door policy, I make it sure that my accessibility is evidently seen and felt by the team, students, and industry partners.
Ideal school environment for Mr. Viegas
An ideal school environment accepts the notion that every learner can learn. It means that all the students possess the potentials to develop and grow in the field of education. An ideal school environment assures to create safe learning facilities for students. Classrooms and amenities in the school campus are characterized with full security and protection. The school should provide a curriculum relevant and related to the students’ lives, commitment and the nation’s requirements. It should employ authentic measures or ways of assessing or evaluating student learning and achievement/progress.
An ideal school environment focuses on academic, athletic, extracurricular activities that are vital to the learners’ development. Most importantly, the institute provides the security for the students by providing and ensuring guaranteed job placements for its students and graduates.
This culture is encouraged by providing the following basic and priority requirements:
- Relevant and updated curriculum, competent faculty and staff.
- Ideal school climate.
- A balanced equilibrium between the institute, parents, community linkages, government entities and industry partners.
- Continuous Professional growth and development for Faculty & Staff.
Goals in mind for BIHR for the next few years
The following goals in line:
- More Bahrainis and International students to join the program.
- The Students and Faculty Exchange Programs to commence.
- The possibility of providing Bachelor’s degree in the Kingdom of Bahrain (HTMI Bahrain Campus).
- Expansion to other GCC countries, with a focus in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Suggestions to the current youth and the aspiring students
A career in hospitality and tourism is boundless. A graduate with an international hotel certification can achieve managerial positions within two years and in some cases within the first year as compared to an entry level with no formal education.
The demand for the Hospitality industry is currently growing due to the boom in the tourism industry across the globe. Today, one can have positions in Airlines, Hotels, Restaurants, Cruise industry, which is one of the fasting growing industries in the world and also other tourism sectors.
The hospitality industry is one which will never fade off due to the growing demand for people to be served.