Thu 3 Jan 19
Before becoming an academic, Andy Boer worked for a range of hospitality companies such as Inter-Continental Hotels, Steigenberger Hotels and Edwardian Hotels in the UK, Germany and Italy.
Before joining the Edge Hotel School Andy transferred from a career in hospitality to the higher education sector, initially at Huddersfield and then, for 28 years, at Bournemouth University. At Bournemouth he became Associate Dean of Hospitality and Retail as well as validating and managing 11 partnership institutions in geographically diverse locations such as Australia, Switzerland, Cyprus, Malaysia, Greece, and Israel.
Since taking on the role of Principal of the Edge Hotel School four years ago Andy has gained a national profile due to the unique two year accelerated learning structure of some of the Edge Hotel School degrees and the substantial experiential learning approach that is delivered here. He has been called upon to give presentations and evidence to a number of policy forums including the Education and Employers Conference (at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills) and to the Cross Party Policy Meeting on Higher Education in the House of Commons.
What drew you to a career in hospitality?
The initial attraction was the opportunity to travel, see the world, engage with interesting people, experience different cultures and eat great food. In this respect (apart from the food) hospitality is not that different to Higher Education and I have been very fortunate to be able to indulge in most of these elements, not just in my hospitality career but also in my educational career too!
What makes the Edge Hotel School unique?
We are unique not just in the brilliant physical learning resource that we have access to (Wivenhoe House hotel) but also in the ethos of ‘industry engaged learning’. These two aspects have not only attracted the interest of our industry but also that of politicians. We were shortlisted in the Outstanding Employer Engagement Initiative category of the Times Higher Education Teaching and Management Awards 2017, but also positively acknowledged in the House of Commons Education Committee ‘Value for money in higher education’ report in November 2018.
Why is an academic education vital in industries which are regarded as hands on?
Academic education is vital in any field, and the hospitality and events industries are no different. People who think of us as merely hands on or chefs and waiters really don’t have much understanding of the true breadth and nature of the industries we support.
The reality is that management in our industry will often be required to work and motivate a multi-cultural workforce; they will need to manage the varied expectations of large numbers of customers; they will need to ensure the delivery and successful logistics of a complex products and services in multi departmental organisations as well as being able to manage the operational and strategic finances and planning of a multi-million pound commercial organisation.
How do you see the future of the UK hospitality industry?
We live in interesting times. Many organisations in the hospitality and event industries will need to evolve rapidly in order to survive and prosper and the most immediate issue is that of securing a consistent and skilled and enthused workforce.
Brexit and the simplistic and often negative image of our industry will play a really important role in the near term future of the industry…and this is one of the reasons that the Edge Hotel School has, over the past two years, been heavily involved in raising the profile of the industry amongst school and college students and working with some of the biggest names in the industry to promote the view that this industry provides both lucrative and aspirational careers for the next generation of the industry.
We are unique within our industry and, as a consequence we take seriously the responsibility to represent both higher education and the hospitality and events industries in a way which reflects our unique professional and academically rigorous image.