After earning his degrees in hospitality at Swiss Hotel Management School, alumnus Chris Yu is thriving in Switzerland.
Summer was just coming around the corner when Chinese alumnus Honglu “Chris” Yu returned to the Caux campus of Swiss Hotel Management School (SHMS). It had been some time since his return; his studies had culminated at the SHMS Leysin campus, where he earned his postgraduate degree in hospitality in 2013 as well as his master’s degree in 2014. This particular visit to SHMS was equal parts social and professional. While he did come with his family, he also aimed to recruit talented SHMS students for internship positions within MW Trading AG, a luxury retail and hotel company.
For this trip to Caux, they were accompanied by MW Trading HR Manager, Tania Michel. Chris holds a personal connection to offering internships to current SHMS students, as he himself was once an intern at MW Trading AG. He understands firsthand the valuable opportunities and experiences that internships can provide in shaping successful careers. Before his academic career at SHMS, Chris tells us how, growing up in Zhejiang, China, he had been fascinated by the hospitality and tourism industry. He worked as a cruise ship front desk manager for Princess Cruises in the Mediterranean, where he experienced first-hand what hospitality jobs entailed and what freedoms he could have to explore the world in this business. In fact, it was on the Caribbean Princess cruise ship where he first learned about people getting their degrees in hospitality.
One thing led to another, and he was accepted into SHMS. He has so many fond memories of his time in Leysin. “I miss Friday nights in Club Maxx,” he says with a smile. Chris’s journey at SHMS is remarkable not only due to his academic accomplishments at SHMS and his exceptional career, but also because he discovered more than just a career path at SHMS. As fate would have it, he encountered a serendipitous, life-changing connection—his wife Melody Ding, a fellow SHMS alumna who also works at MW Trading AG. With their son, they truly embody an SHMS family.
His first internship was at a restaurant in Zug, Switzerland, where he met Melody. After another semester on campus, they both applied for their second internship together at MW Trading AG—and they were both accepted. Chris is humble about how he was accepted to this internship, where he worked at the front desk receiving guests at the store. “It’s an advantage to have staff from different backgrounds and to have people who can speak different languages,” he explains. He had wanted to find something connected to sales, or interacting with tourists from all over the world, and MW Trading AG fit the bill. He was excited about working within the Swiss company as well because he also has a personal interest in luxury brand watches. He was able to do and learn so much there in Interlaken, and he grew professionally alongside the young company.
As Melody and Chris completed their internships and finished up their degrees in hospitality at SHMS, the choice of what to do next was laid out in front of them. For Chris, the answer was clear. “It’s such a pleasure to work in this company,” Chris says. “The team is diverse, with colleagues from Korea, Thailand, Portugal, Switzerland, South America…it’s a young team and we can try different things every year. Look at how we started from luxury watches. Now we cover everything, from head to toe. We are deep into fashion, from clothes and shoes to wallets and accessories. We have different brands with different price ranges, and even our own fashion brand.”
The rest is history. They moved to Interlaken permanently, where they could develop their luxury careers in Switzerland, get married, and start a family. Chris is now the store manager of the store Splendid in Interlaken, just one of several locations in the city under MW Trading AG.
Although Chris enjoys the supply side of the business, in which he goes to showrooms to find new products and order merchandise for the store, what he finds the most profound is his interaction with the people who come to Splendid. “It’s the people I meet every day, making connections with tourists and having this hospitality and service relationship with different kinds of people,” Chris remarks. While he is deep into the world of luxury goods and products, his history and education in hospitality continues to be invaluable and a joy in his work.
When asked if he will stay in Switzerland, return to China (since both Chris and Melody are Chinese), or go elsewhere, Chris is a bit more pensive. “We’re really happy here,” he notes. Melody and he have started their family in Interlaken, and between the mountains and the lakes, it is a beautiful place to live and work.
Regarding the SHMS students for the internship positions, there was some really good feedback from Tania and at least two students have been confirmed for internships within MW Trading AG. With a little pride, Chris adds, “Students are much more mature now than before. The SHMS interns we currently have are doing such a great job, better than I did! They are so smart and learn so fast. We get a lot of good feedback about the SHMS students who come here.”
But he does have advice for the new interns, which is relevant for all of the students at SHMS: Take note of your attention and enthusiasm towards your work. “At this company, we care about your attitude and willingness to do things. Know what you want and like, and then put 100% of your energy into it.” Confidence in these areas will always result in better opportunities and circumstances to your liking.
And finally, Chris advises students to be open to trying everything if they are not yet sure of where they are headed. He says, “If you don’t like it, you can try different things and explore the world in new ways. Be open to interacting and working with others who are unlike you, and always be learning.”
Chris looks forward to new projects at MW Trading AG and the new SHMS interns headed to Interlaken. The relationship between MW Trading AG and SHMS remains strong, offering more opportunities to current and future SHMS hospitality students through educational exchanges and professional internships. One of the next major projects of the company is a new 3-star hotel in Germany, which is planned to expand to 150 rooms, located around Europa-Park.