AlumniFrom bytes to bites: How waiting tables inspired this alumnus to change his career

At 36 years of age, married with two sons, Pakistani alumnus Khurram Khan never imagined that he would have returned to school amongst students, some of whom were almost half of his age.

Balancing school and family life was no easy feat but this Swiss Hotel Management School graduate has never been one to back down from a challenge. Today, Khurram is pursuing his management training in food & beverage with the JW Marriott in Houston. Khurram is also one of few who have been selected for Marriott’s Leadership in Motion course that will further help him develop his leadership skills.

You were living in Sweden for 14 years before moving to Switzerland for your studies. Why did you move to Sweden from Pakistan?
I initially moved to Sweden to pursue my degree in Computer Science. My plan was to get a job there after graduation and eventually settle down in the country. However, because I couldn’t speak Swedish, it was very difficult to find a job related to what I studied.

How did you cope financially after graduating?
After trying for three years, I decided I had to put my career aspirations in Computer Science aside and took on a job as a waiter in an Indian restaurant. Of course I didn’t want to be a waiter all my life, but it was necessary for me to get a job so I could provide for my family and parents.

Coming from a Computer Science background, you can imagine how challenging it was to have to learn about a completely different industry. The hours were also long and tiring, but there was something about the dynamics of the food and beverage industry that piqued an interest in me. I developed an appreciation for customer service and how it could make or break our diners’ experience with us. Seeing my interest in this industry, my wife encouraged me to consider a career in hospitality instead.


“Going back to school was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make as I could not support my family and we had to live on our savings for a while. However, I knew it was necessary for me to upgrade myself in this field so that I can secure a stable future for my family in the long run.”


Why did you choose to study in Switzerland?
As I knew I was taking a big risk going back to school to change my career, I did extensive research on hospitality schools in Europe and Swiss Education Group often came up on top in my searches. I also learnt that Switzerland is often referred to as the birthplace of hospitality and many Swiss Education Group alumni have gone on to build very successful careers for themselves. The icing on the cake was when I saw the beautiful Leysin campus of Swiss Hotel Management School.

How did you balance work and family life?
I think it was especially challenging for my sons to get used to not having me around during their play and nap times. I tried to make up for it by going home for lunches and spending time with them. Between lectures, I would go down the hill to get groceries, return home and back to school again. A huge shoutout should go to my wife for keeping my sanity in check! In all seriousness, without her support I can’t imagine how I would have completed my studies.


“For every situation that you think is impossible, there are always several possible solutions.”


What’s your plan after completing your management training?
I’d like to move to the Middle East as I see a huge potential for me to advance my career in their booming hospitality industry. Swiss Hotel Management School has provided me with all the right tools for me to excel in my career and I’m excited about what lies ahead. Hopefully I’ll soon join the ranks of all the other successful SEG alumni!

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