Name: Deborah Koehler
Current company and title: Visiting Faculty at - GATE Nepal
[JJ]You've had quite a diverse range of academic experiences, ranging from MIT to post grad studies at Harvard - what motivated you to do take on these studies and what do you feel you've gained?
[Deborah] To think you need input and exposure to new ideas. Old knowledge becomes like stale bread: its edible but not tasty. If you are not on a quest for new information than how can you be alive? MIT and Harvard are great institution in they make classes available to those that wish to continue to learn. In these classes you have the opportunity to meet people of diverse backgrounds and have access to information bases. THe homework and the team work enrich what I knew of the world and added more to the mix. Knowledge is not facts but the connection between thoughts. This makes for originality because no one person is going to have the same mix of exposure to information.
[JJ] Your professional background is just as diverse as your studies - could you take us through the major roles you've taken on in your career and your most important achievements?
[Deborah] I like to put myself in the network of opportunity where I am around interesting people that want to do interesting things. My major roles for companies are about what I have created. I am generally hired for one role but because of my thirst for learning and my willingness to take on unusual tasks, my roles with companies evolve and I end up in roles for New Business Development or working within a company to improve a process. Often I have been without title as what I do best is make things work. My most important achievements - how does one answer this questions??? My own definition is that I enjoy everything I do. It is not about achievement but more a way of being. It is about being engaged with the work, the people and the opportunity.
[JJ] What is your current involvement with GATE Nepal and where do you see the institution headed?
[Deborah] My current involvement with GATE is to teach a study skills class to the Swiss Merit Higher Diploma class. They will eventually be working in a western environment and my interest is giving them skills to cope with the challenges they will face when they are are away from family and culture and how to help them have resilience to prosper when they take on an overseas job. The GATE Institution has unlimited possibilities and it is limited only by the lack of creativity. My hope is that it can be a nexus of dedicated people that want to bring skills training on a very practical level and to create a place where many people come for discussion and planning so that it is not just one institution but that it becomes an institution that generations collaboration among many.
[JJ] What drives you...and what are the elements of your job that really interest you?
[Deborah] I am driven my an innate restlessness to see things happen. I am not judgmental and I know things take time. At my core I believe things do happen and all it takes is some magic power of 100% attention and insightful questions to unlock potential in every person.
[JJ] What advice would you offer to young hoteliers and other professionals looking to follow in your footsteps?
[Deborah] The advice I would offer is to say yes to opportunity and don't procrastinate. To listen clearly to the expectations and execute specifically, to ask question and seek feedback. To work to develop others around you - so that as a collective - everyone wins. It is really about making others around you successful because life is so much more fun.
[JJ] Any specific moment that you can relate to your teaching experience at GATE Nepal?
[Deborah] There are moments in the classroom when it is so easy for me to speak for the students - to fill there heads with information. But I must restrain myself because what I know - is not relevant. As Hospitality teachers - we are so quick "to want" to share our experience - because it has the most relevance to us. But to truly teach - we teachers must make the lessons relevant to the students lives. We need to find daliy references to lay down the receptors to understand so that when they are in an overseas situation they can take up new information. For example: in the classroom - They must understand if they complete a task early than the teacher will have more time to give them suggestions for improvement. If the students procrastinates and turns the assingment in at the last minute - then they lose the teachers feedback. This is the same in the workplace - if the requested task is done immediately then the boss has time to give the feedback. The feedback becomes immediate and specific. If the student does the task in his/her own time - then judgement will be made by the western boss that the student is lazy or not capable. I want the students to understand how they can be successful in the west by demanding in the classroom the standards that their future bosses
will be expecting of them.
[Deborah] All these lessons took a life time to learn. There were lots of tears and frustrations along the way - it doesn't just happen - to have a successful career takes personal courage and the ability to tolerate uncertainty and ambiguity.
Faculty/Cross Cultural Business Management
GATE - Global Academy of Tourism & Hospitality Education
Mandikhatar - 9, Kathmandu, Nepal