Student life again for three hotel school lecturers

  • Date

    Thu 26 Jan 23

Left to right: Dimitri Lera, Adrian Martin and Philip Berners

Hot on the heels of appointing its first member of research staff Edge Hotel School is set to gain three more researchers as full-time lecturers swap the lecture hall for the library in the pursuit of PhDs.

Philip Berners, Dimitri Lera and Adrian Martin have been juggling assessment deadlines with teaching commitments as they embark on research degrees that will help establish the School as a hub for hospitality and tourism research.

Philip, now Dr Berners, whose thesis is titled ‘An Events Industry Takes Shape: A Study of the UK and Poland’, passed his viva in the summer and is graduating this year.

Philip, who is a Senior Lecturer teaching events management, has a background organising high-end events including the BRIT Awards and London Fashion Week and was Head of Events at Thorpe Park and the London Hippodrome before joining Edge.

He wanted to combine his professional knowledge with his experiences of previously living in Poland for his research so chose to study how factors including risk, culture, socio-professional structure and globalisation influence an events industry as it takes shape.

Lecturer Dimitri is looking at how sustainability can be embedded in hospitality and events teaching to empower students to make the industry more sustainable.

A graduate of Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland, Dimitri was hotel manager on the first river cruise ship in Italy and was later Deputy Hotel Director on the award-winning Silversea’s Silver Shadow cruise ship in the USA.

Having worked in the sector for over 30 years he grew frustrated at the slow progress made in response to the climate emergency and is keen to see students equipped with the right skills to tackle it head on. Alongside his PhD he has spearheaded a new teaching module on sustainability, which secured him an Excellence in Education award, and helped the School develop its sustainability strategy.

Vice-Principal Adrian Martin, who is halfway through his six-year degree is studying why customers tip or complain in restaurants.

Having worked in hotels for a decade he found it constantly baffling why some people never complain, even when they have cause to, and why some people who receive excellent service never tip.

He’s surveying 1,000 customers to explore whether different personality types are more or less likely to complain or tip.

Returning to studying has not come without its challenges, with all three citing time pressures and juggling teaching commitments as obstacles to be overcome. However, the skills they have picked up along the way have made it more than worthwhile and they all have plans for further research.

“This has given me wider credibility as an academic and allows me to bring my research findings into my teaching. It was interesting to be a student and a teacher, and understand again the student mindset,” said Philip, who, already an established author, intends to write a journal article and a book.

For Dimitri learning new skills has been invaluable: “Both in my previous professional and current academic career transferable skills and competences are key to self-development and personal growth, once learnt in one setting these can be applied or translated to new and different settings.” He’s hoping to get his work published in the Academy of Management Learning and Education Journal or the British Educational Research Journal.

Adrian, who hopes his research will help Edge become a leading figure in complaint management, said: “It’s hard work but the findings are fascinating to not just me but to my students and the industry. I would like to expand the research into the body language of complaints.”