Interview with Mr. François Schnoebelen, EuroCham Board Member and Executive Director of École d'Hôtellerie et de Tourisme Paul Dubrule
This week we met with Mr. François Schnoebelen to get his views on the current state of tourism and hospitality in Cambodia, as well as suggestions for those looking to invest in Cambodia.
Mr. Francois Schnoebelen has an extensive career as an HR practitioner in various countries and has managed sizable administration teams in various industries: Telecom, IT, Garment, Ministry of Finance, Transport, and Hospitality in 15 countries. Currently, he is a member of EuroCham Board Member and Executive Director of École d'Hôtellerie et de Tourisme Paul Dubrule.
1. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
After an extensive career in HR, mostly for the corporate world, it is a change and a real blessing for me to be able to use my skills for a social project. Indeed, I am thrilled to have been appointed Director of the NGO “Ecole d’Hotellerie et de Tourisme Paul Dubrule”, a non-profit organization engaged in the education of young Cambodians especially underprivileged youth, providing life-changing opportunities in the Hospitality and Tourism sector. We want everyone, without distinction of gender or social background, to have access to education and professional training while encouraging mutual social acceptance, understanding and sustainability awareness. The founder of Accor Group, Paul Dubrule, has launched this project in 2002 and supported it for the last 20 years. We are celebrating the anniversary this year.
2. What are your thoughts on the current and perspectives in the industry, given your extensive expertise in the tourism and hospitality sector?
The COVID Crisis has hit the tourism sector very hard. Especially in Siem Reap. Many skilled professionals have left the industry and do not intend to come back. The sector has not yet recovered its attractiveness. The announced recovery may need an additional effort on Human Resources. I believe also that the Talents may look a bit different after the crisis. We expect more multiple skilled employees, more autonomy and flexibility also. This responsibility lies on the schools and our hotelier partners.
3. How Paul Dubrule School could be an actor of the industry transformation?
Paul Dubrule School is providing high-quality education in tourism and hospitality to allow our students to enter the right work environments, where they can learn and continue to grow.
We constantly challenge our programs and the way we teach, involving blended learning, using more reverse pedagogy, empowering the learners in their learning experience. We also develop sustainability programs as part of a new Eco-Campus project. The Students manage this project together with teachers to develop real awareness on sustainability that they may bring with them in their future workplace.
We also help them to develop creative skills (art class for culinary and patisserie), self-confidence to serve demanding and high standard guests. A significant amount of our students launches their own business. It seemed necessary also to provide to all programs modules on entrepreneurship and management.
4. Given the ongoing pandemic, what advice would you provide to those looking to invest in the tourism industry?
The nature of investments has changed. For immediate ROI, we see more investments related to local tourism or F&B in urban centers. We see also major long-term projects requiring building construction continuing to arise in the country. Long-term investments are less affected than small projects. It could be seen as a sign of the confidence of the sector in the coming recovery.
5. Do you have any advice for those wanting to move to Cambodia?
Let the country show you what could be done and what you should bring into it. The best projects I know were inspired within the country by a concourse between its own DNA and our dreams.