SchoolSwiss Hotel Management School
ProgramMaster of Arts in International Hospitality Business Management
CountryUnited Arab Emirates
Studying at one of the top 10 hospitality programs in the world is a privilege, much less a top 3 school such as Swiss Hotel Management School (SHMS). The competition is stiff to get into one of the best hospitality and tourism schools, and the courses are rigorous while performance expectations are high. While all students may shine at SHMS, there are those select students for whom it is as much a privilege to teach as it is a pleasure to have on campus.
Maryam Basaeed is one of those students, whose journey at SHMS has been truly remarkable and inspiring. Hailing from Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), she embarked on her academic pursuits at SHMS in 2022 by enrolling in the Postgraduate Diploma (PGD) program in Leysin before continuing onto her Master of Arts degree studies. Her ambition was not just to earn a diploma but to set a strong precedent as the first Emirati student at SHMS. From the beginning, it was evident that Maryam that ‘star-quality’ that defines excellence in so many ways. She is currently busy in her final internship at Clinic La Prairie, one of the most exclusive health and wellness destinations in the world, where she skillfully navigates four different departments—holistic health, marketing, guest relations, and human resources. Despite her schedule, Maryam spared some time to share her insights into her SHMS experience and the strategies that helped her stand out in the hospitality and tourism industry.
Our conversation began with Maryam’s decision to pursue a Master of Arts hospitality degree at the SHMS Caux campus. For Maryam, the decision to continue her education is driven by a profound mission to empower and inspire young Emiratis to enter the field of hospitality and tourism, because despite Dubai’s prominence in this industry, there has been a noticeable absence of Emiratis in key roles. Maryam aspires to change this by becoming the most influential leading women in the hospitality and tourism field. “I want to be the youngest general manager in hospitality in Dubai,” she says. “A Master of Arts would give so many insights into all the departments and functions I’d need to understand as a general manager.” Her ambition extends beyond personal success. She aims to set an example for others and pave the way for a new generation of Emiratis to pursue their dreams in these fields.
Maryam’s journey into hospitality was shaped by a background of competition and academic rigor. Since she was seven years old, she has engaged with horse riding competitions against international competitors, which cultivated her love for meeting diverse individuals and experiencing different cultures. It was this dynamism that she sought in her career, leading her to choose the path of hospitality. Supported by her horse-riding trainer and all of her family members, she embarked on her hospitality career at just 18 years old with Emaar, one of Dubai’s renowned hospitality establishments. Despite being one of the youngest female local employees, Maryam’s dedication and commitment saw her rise to become one of the youngest local female supervisors.
Moving to Switzerland to pursue higher education was a big step for her. At first she was full of anxiety about what lay ahead: what would the teachers be like, and would she be up for the challenge? But Maryam overcame her fears and came to Switzerland, kickstarting her highly successful student career. When asked about her experience upon arriving, she expressed her appreciation for the support she received, emphasizing, “What I really like about SHMS is that they help me a lot. They really support me.” This support was true both in her PGD studies as well as her current Master of Arts studies. “This unwavering support has extended throughout the academic journey at SHMS, from my initial studies to my current intensive work on my dissertation.” She also stressed the pivotal role played by SHMS Dean Dr. Dominic Szambowski, Assistant Dean Claire Jollain, and the faculty, highlighting that even after leaving the school, the lines of communication remained open. Such ongoing support is particularly crucial to young Middle Eastern women like her, which reinforces the importance of mentorship and guidance in such educational and career journeys.
Connecting with lecturers and SHMS faculty goes beyond what is learned in the classroom. For Maryam, human connection is about surrounding herself with good mentors who can open new doors. She cherishes the relationships she developed with SHMS teachers and deans who play a crucial role in her success. Among them is Ms. Fiona Eade, the head of the language department, who continuously supported Maryam and believed in her. Fiona's dedication helped Maryam quickly learn basic French, a vital skill for her internship at the Grand Hotel du Lac, a prestigious 5-star hotel in Vevey, Switzerland renowned for its excellency and consistency. Fiona spoke highly of Maryam and described her as “already an outstanding hospitality professional who stood out amongst other students at SHMS with her exceptional level of service and communication skills with people.” During her internship, Maryam formed a close bond with the hotel operations manager at the Grand Hotel du Lac. He said, “My mission is to bring a new dynamism inside the organization and enhance the service to a higher level of excellence, and I regard Maryam as a key asset among our employees.” He explains how her proficiency in Arabic was a valuable asset during her internship, and that her language versatility further highlighted her adaptability and advantageousness to the hospitality sector in Switzerland. In addition, Maryam has spoken gratefully of the UAE Consul, his excellency Jassem Alabdouli, who even attended her PGD graduation, and of the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs, whom she thanks for their continuous support.
Maryam's passion and dedication have made her a standout student at SHMS. As a Class Ambassador within the Student Government, she represented a diverse group of students, believing in the value of different perspectives within the hospitality industry. What truly sets Maryam apart is her genuine dedication to serving others. Her philosophy of going the extra mile and her passion for people shine through in her approach to her work. She actively seeks opportunities to contribute to various aspects of the operation, even if they are not within her direct responsibilities. Her willingness to assist in different departments and her holistic view of the operation are qualities that were highly appreciated by her colleagues. She hopes her story serves as an inspiration, demonstrating that with determination and dedication, anything is possible. Her success as one of the youngest Emirati students in hospitality challenges preconceived notions about language capabilities and underscores the importance of diversity in the workforce. Maryam's commitment to breaking stereotypes is commendable, and her dedication to people shines through in her work.
As Maryam finishes up her master’s degree hospitality program and prepares to conquer the world to achieve her goals, there is no doubt that SHMS will continue to stand by her side, cheering her on. Her determination and dedication remind us that anything is achievable. Maryam’s advice for aspiring hospitality students is to embrace the educational experience and supportive environment at SHMS. Her journey is a testament to the transformative power of education, mentorship, and unwavering passion.