The PAP (Professionalization Accelerator Program) presented by David Hurst, Referent of PAP

Feb 15, 2023 -

We had the pleasure of discussing with David Hurst, Referent of the Ferrières PAP (Professionalization Accelerator Program). A unique program aiming to create unique and authentic experiences that will become valuable and lasting skills for students.

1. Hello, can you introduce yourself?

Hello, my name is David Hurst and I am the Manager of the Professionalization Accelerator Program (PAP) at Ferrières School. I am committed to this inspiring and creative new educational model of French excellence for future leaders in the hospitality, travel, and tourism industries. My experience as a versatile leader in the hotel industry for over 29 years in Germany, England, and France reflects the values found in this unique training model. I worked for the Walt Disney company for a large part of my professional life, holding the position of Operational Director for Ticketing and Parking for Disneyland Paris. I led and developed a multicultural team of 110 executives and non-executives.

2. What is the PAP about? What’s its objective?

The PAP (Professionalization Accelerator Project) approach aims to create unique and authentic experiences that can become valuable and lasting skills for students. These experiences will enable them to become ambassadors of excellence in the hospitality industry, specifically dynamic and human leaders who contribute to the innovation of service professions.

Throughout their academic curriculum, whether it be a degree or a short professional training program (in cooking or pastry), students are placed in truly operational businesses. These internships allow students to confront the reality of their future profession in parallel with their theoretical courses. This allows them to articulate their values and expectations, experience non-negotiables, and hear from professionals what is expected of them as future leaders, chefs, pastry chefs, and decision-makers. They can establish professional and personal relationships, acquire general and specific skills, understand what drives and motivates them to achieve their future goals and aspirations. This dual experience is recognized by the best professionals in the hospitality and restaurant industry as they leave school not only with a diploma but also with a solid know-how, immediately applicable in the professional environment. These experiences can only be acquired by living, learning, and developing in the reality of operational businesses, such as hotel reception, spa, kitchen, housekeeping, shop, bakery, restaurant, etc.

3. What does the PAP (Professional Acceleration Program) Coordinator position entail?

My role is not only that of a planner, but also that of a facilitator, guarantor, coach, developer, verifier, evaluator, auditor, trainer, communicator, and liaison. These are many hats, but I understand the landscape of the business and the challenges that business owners and operators face on a daily basis, as well as the support needed for the change and challenge that these immersions can bring to our students and businesses. I am here to ensure that each of them arrives, wins, improves, and develops. I also ensure that everyone respects the requirements and expectations of the academic and professional worlds. In this atypical approach, we have established a reputation for value regarding our degrees and students in the world of luxury hospitality. It is therefore important that the team with whom I work, our partners, ensure that these experiences, progress, and developments are in compliance with the requirements of the business of tomorrow.

4. What are the skills that hospitality/restaurant industry companies are looking for that our students acquire throughout this program?

The last three years have been decisive for the world and our vision of the work we do and how we do it. Hospitality has suffered and this has had an impact on what we are looking for in terms of leadership and personnel.

What these sectors will require:

– Adaptability to navigate the unknown.
– The 4 C’s:

  • A good command of mixed communication in virtual environments with the advent of teleworking and collaborative platforms like Teams or Slack.
  • More cooperation/collaboration to bounce back and move forward together. Cooperation has developed to come together in the face of a more complex environment.
  • More creativity to approach problems and changes
  • The ability to have critical objectivity, a critical mind to evaluate and adjust the process, question how we operate, for example, we are currently testing at school the Plato Robot and how it could be used to collaborate with us in the world of hospitality.

There are many more depending on the role and country. This is what I think, that in the years to come, the industry will demand much more.