Beyond the Edge – Professor Peter Jones MBE

Dear Reader,

We are delighted to bring you the latest blog from Professor Peter Jones MBE who is chronicling his personal story of a major innovation in the hotel industry.

“Beyond the Edge”

Summer is over. There are no bats; building construction is well underway, on time and with no major challenges uncovered as yet! Demolition of the rather unlovely seventies style wing took place in a matter of days once the bats and the birds had been relocated. Foundations for the new wing are finished and the first fixings in Wivenhoe House are steaming ahead.

Watching the demolition crew was a wonder to behold, the skill and precision with which a grab on the end of a huge machine was able to extract rafters and concrete slabs put me in mind of the dentist! Much of the material is being recycled. Not everything is always so precise and one small mishap was late on a Friday, when else? One of the gas mains was located by a trench digging machine a little higher in the trench than anticipated. It needs little imagination to understand how swiftly and efficiently all of the safety measures were put into place. All was well although I do understand that it had some impact on the Vice Chancellor’s plans for a barbecue that evening.

We have had some interesting changes in the front row line up for the School. Kaplan, an international education provider and an existing partner of the university, have taken over as the education partner and bring a different dimension to the development, not least their expertise in online delivery.

The first general manager of the hotel school at Wivenhoe house has also been appointed. He is Stephen Mannock, currently a Director of the Hospitality Skills Academy who has a blend of general management experience with a very good understanding of education. Many will also know Stephen as a champion of ‘service’ and from his commitment to improving status of the profession through the Young Chef Young Waiter competitions. Stephen takes up post on the 1st November. Competition for the post was fierce and the number and quality of the applicants is a very positive reflection on the professional interest in the concept and idea.

This interest continues to grow. At a recent Master Innholders meeting, Harry Murray MBE one of our patrons made a presentation on behalf of the School and was immediately booked for a return at the Master Innholders Conference in January next year. The number of industry sponsors is impressive but opportunities still exist for individuals and organisations to become directly involved in what will become ‘the hotel school’ in the UK.

We have set ourselves the ambitious target to be listed in the top ten hotel schools in the world within 5 years when measured by graduate employment and industry recognition.

When reflecting on where we have come from with the Edge Hotel School, the highs and lows, the dramas and disappointments, the realisation that not everyone shares your dream and passion, one important lesson is that pragmatic solutions can be found if everyone looks hard enough. Getting them to look in the right place is sometimes the problem! We are now less than six months from the first intake of students and less than 12 months from a proposed, official opening. The first phase of the building, Wivenhoe House, will be handed over in late February 2012, with a soft opening in May and a full opening when the Garden Wing is handed over in July.

I am not one to panic but the realisation that we are turning the dream into a reality can cause mild hysteria. If you see me with that strange look it may just be that…

For more information on this and any aspects of the Edge Hotel School please contact either Professor Peter Jones on pjones@edgehotelschool.ac.uk, mobile 07746826872 or Jane Samuels on jsamuels@edgehotelschool.ac.uk or 02079601542

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