Glion’s unique postgraduate degree offers students the chance to work on real-life projects. In fall 2014, Glion and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) began an exciting new collaboration. Students who enroll in either the Project Factory or the Marketing electives—part of the Hospitality and the Event, Sport and Entertainment (ESE) postgraduate programs—have an exclusive and valuable opportunity to work on a commissioned student project with the famous sports organization.
Last semester’s projects focused on the 2016 UEFA European Football Championship, or EURO 2016, to be hosted by ten French cities in summer 2016. Students in the Project Factory created cultural programs to entertain top UEFA VIP guests who will attend EURO 2016. Students proposed ideas for activities in four of the host cities: Paris, Marseille, Lyon, and Nice. Students researched all activities to ensure they were viable and created a budget for each one. They also designed a strategy for promoting the events to the guests.
Students in the Marketing course had another interesting challenge: to design intuitive smartphone apps that certain VIP guests could use to access information on hotels, restaurants, entertainment, transportation, and the games, in each of the four chosen cities.
As the culmination of the project, student leaders presented the proposals at UEFA’s beautiful lakeside headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. Among them was postgraduate student Baptiste Guyot-Sionnest. “I have always known UEFA because I love football,” he says. “And I was actually there, so that was quite amazing. To stand in front of managers from UEFA—it was like a boost for me. It made me want to work even harder.”
“We were very impressed with the results,” says Damaris Papoutsakis, VIP Services Manager at UEFA, who describes the project presentations as creative, realistic, and applicable. “There were a few ‘wow’ moments; for example, when we received a live demo of a smartphone application by one of the student groups.”
Ms. Papoutsakis says that the value of having students’ input on UEFA projects is manifold. “Their perspective on a topic is very new and fresh.” Also, they are exposed to “the latest academic research and best practices across different industries,” and they do not have the subconscious limitations in thinking that a particular corporate culture may impose.
Michael Abson, the subject leader for ESE, explains that UEFA specifically asked to work with postgraduate students because they are generally more mature and strongly motivated. He says that following the success of the first projects, “the word is out within UEFA,” and demand is high to engage the students’ research skills. The collaboration gives UEFA a good source of student talent, and it gives Glion the chance to offer real-world projects to students.
“It’s a win-win relationship,” says Eric Mabilon, postgraduate Program Leader. “It’s a huge, invaluable experience for everybody. I’m proud of what happens.” Mr. Mabilon adds, “None of this could be possible without the teachers in charge of these projects,” Mr. Abson and Marketing course leader Antonis Anastassiades.
“Students want a return on investment,” Mr. Mabilon continues. “They are fond of what is close to reality, or what is operational, or what is directly linked to what happens in the industry.” Adds Mr. Abson, “They learn how to conduct research, how to present and perform, how to work in a team, and how to be self-driven.”
At the beginning of each semester, UEFA Managers visit Glion and present their project request to students, who are briefed in advance and ready with questions. Midway through the semester, students give UEFA managers a pre-presentation to check whether they are on the right track. Finally, the presentation at headquarters is, as Mr. Abson puts it, “an opportunity for students to show their stuff in a real-world setting.”
This semester’s projects focus on other UEFA events. Students in the Project Factory are researching the hosting process for cities for the UEFA Champions League, UEFA’s largest annual event. Students in the Marketing course will create marketing materials, using both traditional and e-marketing strategies such as social media, to promote the final tournament of the UEFA Youth League.
For Baptiste Guyot-Sionnest, being the team leader for the VVIP project helped him get an eight-month internship position at the association - most Glion internships run six months. “It helped me a lot to have an inside view of UEFA; I got to know much more about it. When I applied, the managers knew I was already appreciated by some of their colleagues and that I was going to do my best.”
But an even more important factor, he says, was simply being a Glion student. “UEFA has very few internship offers, and they usually only broadcast them through school channels,” he explains.
As an intern in UEFA’s Travel and Conferences department, Baptiste organizes logistics - booking meeting rooms, restaurants, hotels, transportation - for events in Switzerland, such as meetings of UEFA executives in Nyon. “I’m really, really happy to be there,” he says. “I’m learning a lot about how the sports industry works, as well as about UEFA’s procedures and rules. I’m improving my communication skills and organizational skills. You have to be proactive, organized, quick. The bar is high. You learn a lot about yourself.”
Hospitality was not Baptiste’s first career path. He started by earning his master’s in law at a university in his native Paris. “I didn’t like it at all,” he says. “So I wanted to find something for which I was happy to wake up in the morning. I wanted to study and travel abroad, and I was interested in business, hospitality, sports, and events.” A lifelong athlete with a black belt in jujitsu, he says, “You have to be interested in what you’re doing. I could do [sports] all day long. Why not do it for my job?”
“I chose Glion because it’s not only a hospitality school—it’s a business school,” he says. “In only one year, I touched so many subjects: hospitality, events, business, communication, marketing, food and beverage.” Although he is earning his Postgraduate Diploma in Hospitality Administration, he chose several ESE electives. “Why not do it all?” he asks. “This is one of the biggest advantages of Glion.”
He also chose Glion because Switzerland is famous for hospitality education. He considered competing schools, but they did not offer a postgraduate degree - he would have had to start over with a bachelor’s degree. “Glion offers amazing conditions of work and life,” he says. “When I visited, there was no doubt.”
“School gives you the opportunity to improve again and again what you are in life,” Baptiste says. “At Glion, there is a lot of importance to how you dress, how you behave, how you help people. These values are really important in the hospitality and events industry. I only spent one year with people in my program, but if one of them needs my help in ten years, I will do what I can to help them. Glion is a real family.”
He adds that because of the program, he now has friends from all over the world—Asia, Africa, the United States. “Meeting these people makes you grow up, as well. If I move to another country for my career, I will still have those memories of how people in such countries behave and how they are expecting you to adapt to their culture. It goes beyond classes, books, and the diploma.”
In past years, students in the Project Factory have worked on the Champs freestyle snowboarding competition, the Verbier Bike Fest, the Matterhorn Ultracks Skialp and Trail races, and an annual ESE conference attended by many industry professionals. For many Glion postgraduate students, the chance to participate in real projects for real companies is a highlight of their studies.
About Glion Institute of Higher Education
Glion offers business degrees that are purpose-built for the merging worlds of sports, events and entertainment. Since 2001, our faculty of industry-experienced leaders have pioneered sports management programs combining hands-on learning, industry exposure, and strategic business that have earned the support of global sports and event companies.