Students and recent graduates from Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School are emerging to lead the industry's next chapter.

As the hospitality industry recovers from a disruptive year, the skills shortage and demand for quality talent has come into sharp focus.

This year, Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School (BMIHMS) at Torrens University Australia marks a significant milestone, celebrating 30 years of a rich legacy and 30 years of producing world-class graduates. BMIHMS would like to reflect on the pivotal role education plays in shaping the next generation of industry leaders and importantly, turn our focus to the next decade.

From its conception, BMIHMS was founded on a commitment to drive hotel education forward, pioneering one of the first immersive hotel education experiences in Australia. Over the past three decades, pedagogy, culture, industry and technology have rapidly evolved. Alongside this, BMIHMS has adapted to meet the need.

Education driving the industry forward

In the wake of a transformative year, the hotel industry now faces its next greatest challenge – a drastic shortage of skilled talent. Now is the time to refocus on building the next generation and ensuring talent within the industry are equipped with the skills to lead, adapt and thrive.

“The urgency of addressing skill gaps is clear—and especially in the hospitality industry, this is more important than ever to do,” said Jerome Casteigt, General Manager, Business and Hospitality, BMIHMS at Torrens University Australia.

“Skills building (more than hiring, contracting, or redeploying employees) is the best way to close gaps. The hospitality industry, in partnership with hospitality education, needs to double down on the efforts to reskill and upskill employees.”

In times of exponential change, quality education becomes a non-negotiable. It’s the responsibility of educators to shape aspiring leaders in the essential skills they’ll need to navigate the future.

“Education plays a pivotal role in building our future leaders. It bridges borders, creates equal opportunities and empowers us,” said Marcus Chan, Director of Sales and Marketing, IHG Hotels and Resorts, who graduated in 2017 with a Master of International Hotel Management.

“We have to attract young professionals and inspire them to see that the hotel industry remains a vibrant, innovative and exciting industry that still provides incredibly rewarding long-term careers,” said Associate Professor Simon Pawson, Associate Dean of Hospitality at BMIHMS.

In an era of rapid change and constant technological evolution, it’s crucial that hotel professionals can upskill quickly to be able to adapt at speed. This mindset of lifelong learning is now a normal characteristic of virtually every career. Globally, short, online courses are a critical tool to facilitate regular, flexible training.

“The rapid rise of digitisation and remote work requires employees to adapt to the significant changes to how work gets done and to the business priorities their companies are setting. Employees also require help from their employers to develop those skills gaps and make them future-ready,” said Casteigt.

It’s also why BMIHMS has reimagined applied learning by developing a virtual reality environment, which opens up a new frontier to immersive, enriching hotel education.

“These innovative developments will ensure the school remains the premier hotel school in our region and continues to graduate highly employable students with knowledge and skills critical to the effectiveness of the global hotel sector of today and tomorrow,” said Associate Professor Simon Pawson.

Next generation leaders discuss the future

As we fix our eyes to the industry’s future, BMIHMS alumni along with current students share their ideas on leadership, education and the future of the industry.

“Automation and the adaptation of artificial intelligence will be the new norm of hotel operations in the future,” said Mary Rose Esperida, a second year student studying her Master of International Hotel Management.

“The future of the hotel industry will be driven by an ever-increasing pace of disruption brought about by the challenges posed by technology, innovation, changing guest demands, climate change and ‘black swan’ events, such as the current pandemic,” said Hairul Syazwan Kamoordin, a second year student undertaking his Master of International Hotel Management.

“Only those hotels which are capable of readily adapting to the emerging environment will be assured of success,” he said.

These next generation leaders are culturally savvy global citizens – fluent in new tech, and socially and environmentally aware. They are increasingly cognisant of all the challenges their generation is going to face.

A world of expertise

BMIHMS’ future leaders come from diverse backgrounds and perspectives, ready to bring fresh ideas as well as globally recognised hospitality training to any hotel brand.

“To me, the hotel industry is heading into a new era in which customers demand changes at every moment,” said Winnie Ho, General Manager at Haven Glebe and BMIHMS graduate, holding a Master of International Hotel Management.

“Hoteliers have to not only be able to keep applying new technologies and new ways of operating, but also to keep the warmth and comfort of humanity,” she said.

These up-and-coming leaders offer important insights into the future of their industry, shaped by their experience as well as their education. They are also aware of what it will take for them to reach their goals and become trailblazers in this new economy.

What it takes to be a next-generation leader

The leaders of tomorrow are sharing ideas for the industry’s future.

What skills and characteristics exactly will it take to be a great hotel leader in the future? Some of our BMIHMS leaders have shared their thoughts on this important question.

“A great hotel leader is one who creates an inspiring vision of the future and motivates their team to engage with that vision,” said Chan. “The past year has taught me a lot, personally and professionally. Being strategic, creative and, more importantly, resilient are some of the many qualities of a great hotel leader.”

“Enthusiasm, confidence and empathy are characteristics I consider the most basic elements of leadership,” said Wen Chien, a current student undertaking her Bachelor of Business International Hotel and Resort Management. “Improving yourself and knowing who you are before you have people follow you is what I believe it will take to be a good leader in the future,” she added.

“The current condition of the world changes so rapidly, we will never be able to predict what the ‘new normal’ will exactly be,” Ho added. “Therefore, being flexible, able to think out of the box and keep trying any possibilities to bring my hotel in a new direction, would be the key for me to lead my hotel to success.”

Free short courses

BMIHMS is offering Creative and Critical Thinking short courses completely free for a limited time. Learn more about this special offer at