A constituent college of the Manipal University since 2003, Welcomgroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration has been consistently ranked as the No. 1 institute in the country for hotel management studies. The institute's alumni have found positions in leading hotel chains, airlines, travel agencies and other organizations like Citibank, Blue Dart Couriers, GE Capital and International Services.
Which is the most expensive cookbook in the world? The answer will definitely make us proud. It is a 1200-page love of labour that has taken 12 years to compile; the 12th copy of Michelin Star Chef Vikas Khanna's limited edition 'Utsav - A Culinary Epic' was auctioned for Rs. 30 lakh and the money was dedicated to feed 200,000 underprivileged children through an NGO he supports. Being the author of over 25 best-selling cookbooks is just one part of Khanna. Former MasterChef India judge, Khanna has cooked for the likes of Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth II, hosted several TV shows, instituted a one-of-a-kind Culinary Arts Museum in Manipal, Karnataka and finally made it to the list of the Top 10 Chefs in the World published by Gazette Review.
However, there is a common chord that connects Khanna with Satya Nadella of Microsoft and Rajeev Suri of Nokia - the two most successful and inspiring personalities from the world of technology and business -the prestigious Manipal University. While, Suri graduated in 1986 and Nadella in 1988, both from the Manipal Institute of Technology, Khanna graduated in 1994 from Welcomgroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration (WGSHA) - a constituent college of the Manipal University since 2003. Showing gratitude to his alma mater, Khanna once wrote, "It is my life's greatest gift to have been educated in WGSHA, Manipal. I love the structure, faculty and all the facilities provided to nurture our talent." Indeed, during his graduation from the WGSHA, Khanna was fortunate to be trained under renowned chefs of Taj Group of Hotels, The Oberoi Group, The Leela Group and many more, which gave him the foundation to do what he is best known for - cooking his way into our hearts.
The WGSHA has been proactive when it comes to providing a global exposure to the students
Khanna may be one of the most celebrated chefs around the world today, but he is not the only one who has been nurtured by the WGSHA. Anil Chadha (Area Manager South, ITC Hotels & General Manager ITC Grand Chola), Maneet Chauhan (Celebrity Chef and Culinary Consultant Judge - Chopped) and Hari Prasad Nayak (Chef, Restaurateur, Author and Indian Food and Culinary Consultant, New York), are a few other eminent personalities that graduated from the WGSHA. Parvadhavardhini Gopalakrishnan, Principal of the WGSHA says, "For the past 27 years, students are absorbed by the top-notch hotel brands (Indian and International) at the entry level. The successful alumni cohort that includes entrepreneurs, CEOs, COOs and various other leadership positions has played a prominent role in the establishment of a unified and shared network to support the placement activities at the institute level."
A Collaborative Learning Environment
The creation of the WGSHA was the result of a great collaboration between two prominent organizations from different industries. In 1987, the Dr. TMA Pai Foundation joined hands with Welcomgroup, the hotel division of ITC to set up the Welcomgroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration. The WGSHA -ITC collaboration since three decades has attempted to bridge the competency gap by providing its specialists and expertise in hotel management to impart education and training to students at the institute. "The WGSHA is the first hotel management college in the country to commence an undergraduate degree in collaboration with an industry partner namely the Hotels division of the ITC. That was a historic event in the Indian hospitality education in India," shares Parvadhavardhini.
The ITC supports the WGSHA for project planning, admissions, designing of the curriculum, selection of faculty and administration of the institute as well as the operation of the annexed Fortune Inn Valley View hotel (member-ITC hotels). The collaboration provides a platform for inclusiveness for the student to gain not only employability skills and competencies but to cater to the larger needs of the service sector. "Our curriculum emphasizes through its pedagogy an educational process of lifelong learning, which includes all activities and experiences emphasizing on the integration of human values. Application learning in the real world of hospitality is integrated for over 32 weeks for a span of four years," explains Parvadhavardhini.
The collaboration with ITC Hotels has not only facilitated students of WGSHA towards their training and placement but also has given the faculty members a platform for enhancing their competences. ITC hotels make special provisions for faculty members of WGSHA to attend summer training every year. The faculty members are allowed to select an ITC hotel of their choice and undergo short-term domain specific training programs. "All operational and management faculty members visit hotels to acquire exposure about the latest trends and developments in the hotel sector. This is a unique learning opportunity offered by ITC hotels, which has helped us to obtain the highest grading in national rankings," claims Parvadhavardhini. The WGSHA is the only private hotel management college to be ranked in a world ranking based on interviews with alumni employed across the world (Ceoworldbiz.com-Rank 40).
Producing Globally Competent Professionals
Recognized by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and accredited by NBA for five years, the WGSHA has been highly successful in attracting a good number of reputed recruiters to its campus. To augment the placement opportunities, the institute invites industry experts as adjunct faculty to deliver parts of curriculum wherein the recruiter has an opportunity to identify talent. At present, more than 18 companies conduct on-premise selection and placement with over five international placements each year and the employment offers have been recorded from fortune 500 companies such as Marriott Hotels and Standard Chartered Bank.
"The placement process is dynamic and it shifts as per the dynamics of the recruiters' needs. We provide our graduating students with multiple platforms to seek employment across the world," says Parvadhavardhini. The WGSHA has deployed a dedicated team of faculty members to involve in connecting the graduates to employment opportunities in the entire tourism, travel and hospitality sector across the world. In addition to that, over 2381 alumni are connected to the graduating batch for internships and employment. "A well-charted recruitment plan without ignoring the technological advancements has played a crucial role across the recruitment lifecycle of students. We have also imparted proactive employability enhancement initiatives like PDPs, workshops, training programs to address the gap in requirements in entry-level hiring at the institution level," explains Parvadhavardhini.
The WGSHA has been proactive when it comes to providing a global exposure to the students. The institute has collaborated with reputed International and National universities and academic institutions like University College Birmingham, UK, Centennial College, School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culture, Canada, George Brown College of Applied Arts & Technology, Canada, Botho College, Botswana, The University of Waikato, New Zealand Tourism and Hospitality Skill Council, India, The SAGES Institute, International, Surabaya, Indonesia, The Business School, Edinburgh Napier University, Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), Manchester, UK, Alain Ducasse, Paris, France, and City and Guilds, India Chapter. The WGSHA students also take part in student exchange programs such as International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE) and AIESEC India.
"These collaborations help in identifying pedagogical innovations in teaching and learning based on the best practices from each culture. Well-planned visits of students and teachers and an offer of giving joint degrees to students with International partners help in enhancing career advancement opportunities abroad," opines Parvadhavardhini. As one of the very few hotel management institutes in India that has been ranked among the international institutes, the WGSHA has many ambitious plans. "We would be providing the students and faculty a digitally enabled teaching-learning environment that will benchmark the industry practices in digitalization. We will also continue refining the education philosophy and curriculum to achieve academic excellence, internationalization, research capabilities and employer reputation. Leveraging the potential of alumni as teachers will continue to remain a key area of the pedagogy," concludes Parvadhavardhini.
Box 1: Parvadhavardhini Gopalakrishnan, Principal and HOI
Parvadhavardhini has over four decades of experience in the hospitality education sector in India and abroad.She has attended numerous learning and development activities, which include an ILO fellowship to Cornell University and the University of Nevada at Las Vega, and has worked as a lecturer at the Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology at Bangalore. She has also been HOD and Vice Principal at the Institute of Hotel Management, Aurangabad. She was the Dean at the Baisan Institute of Hotel Management at Bahrain - Manama. Her Primary areas of interests in teaching are Accommodations Operation, Services Management, Human Resources Management, Business Ethics and Strategic Management. She is interested in the philosophies of adult learning and motivation.
Box 2: Did You Know?
WGSHA is the only college in India to offer Sommelier program from the International Sommelier Guild (ISG). The BHM / BA (Culinary Arts) courses include wine certifications from The International Sommelier Guild taught by the subject experts from ISG-USA.