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From Gokarting, golf tournaments and belly-dancing lessons, to Milan shopping trips and day trips on the Goldenpass train, Damien Fehlmann who joined Les Roches in 2014, has it all covered. Here are 5 things about him and his job at Les Roches International Hotel Management School, Switzerland.
1) Sport is his passion, but it’s not been his only job
Damien has an impressive career that reflects his desire to see the world and work out what he really wanted to do before he settled down. He was: ski instructor, personal trainer, lifeguard, policeman and qualified PE teacher. He moved around Switzerland and spent three years in Abu Dhabi, before settling here in Bluche.
“I didn’t want to spend my whole life doing one job; I was young and wanted to grow. Doing different specializations was an incredible experience for me. I met a lot of amazing people with a lot of different experiences. I discovered a lot of beautiful regions. I learnt a lot.”
The skills he has picked up along the way serve him well: logistics, trouble shooter, first aid, communication, and always having a plan b, c, and d – if necessary.
2) Damien thinks big
Damien was given a carte blanche when he started his job. It used to be that the activities were more or less run by students themselves. So Damien, with a budget, a head full of creative ideas and the logistics know-how, has got professional coaches in for the football and rugby teams, new kit, a program of competitions, and a trainer for the basketball team. He has organized a program of outings and activities, including the hugely popular ‘Discover Switzerland’ program and coordinated the outing to Milan with 70 people. Not bad for someone who just started in January 2014.
And his plans do not stop there. He has his eyes on a Swiss inter-hotel school tournament, on a full healthy eating program and a cultural program in which people can learn about the amazing art, music and culture of Switzerland.
Oh, and an assistant of course – to help him get all this done.
3) Damien’s strategy for getting lazy people (do they even exist at Les Roches?) involved
“Well, at the moment, whenever I launch a new activity, it’s booked up within two or three days. Students get to hear about it through the flyer, the Facebook group for students, Moodle, the touch screen… But I think the most effective tool for getting people involved is a well-run activity. With the sports, it has become much more professional and more students have joined in.
“When I started the semester, I organized fun activities, little challenges. Paintball with a cocktail. Fun, engaging activities, just perfect to break the ice between the students.
“Of course, students are still students. You can organize something, but if they go to a spontaneous party the night before and are partying in Crans till 4 in the morning, it can be a challenge to get them out of bed for a curling lesson.”
4) Damien’s secret weapon for delivering big events
“The Student Social Committee! This semester I organized the football tournament (for Les Roches, Glion, Bulle, staff), with the help of the student committee, who did an incredible job. I thought about the sports side of things, organizing materials etc. The SCC did all the F&B: hamburgers, hotdogs, beers and entertainment. The mix was perfect. The SCC is a great team, they work a lot.
There are a lot of them. I can trust them to deliver. When they say they will do something, they do. It’s easy to work with this team.”
5) The importance of his work
“My side is so important. The students are incredible. They don’t go home at the weekends. So their downtime activities need to be good. They need to be great.
“A healthy balance for the students is important. Here, it’s a valuable goal. There is an incredible quality of teaching here, but sometimes they are under a lot of pressure and have a lot of exams. And sometimes with me and my department, they can breathe, think about other things, decompress. Get some balance.
“I hope to continue to grow this. It’s really important for the students.”
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