The Resilient Art of Hospitality – Ilias Kuntras collects new experiences on Haaga campus

Ilias Kuntras began his studies at Haaga-Helia during an exceptional year. The coronavirus changed everything. Nevertheless, the Degree Programme in Hospitality, Tourism and Experience Management (HOTEM) has already given him new guidelines for the future career.

Picture of Ilias Kuntras.
Student testimonial

Kuntras moved to Finland in 2014 after spending his childhood and high school years in Rhodes, Greece. At first, he studied in the Culinary School of Perho from which he graduated in Spring 2017.

Applying to Haaga-Helia was one of Kuntras’ goals since moving to Finland. After a few years of professional cooking, he noticed the need of experiencing something more versatile yet still related to the art of hospitality.

— I have had the opportunity to grow a professional network faster than I expected, among different restaurants. The reason why I applied was to broaden my educational level, study the values of sustainable leadership and learn about financing in the industry, Kuntras says.

He has worked in various renowned restaurants in Helsinki: Yes Yes Yes, Pastis, Alexanderplats, to name a few. In addition, he has been working as an extra worker at Grön and Nolla if needed.

Kuntras says, that the studies in Haaga-Helia align with some long-term plans, such as learning product development and completing pedagogical studies.

— Other reasons were to network more, experience student exchange and the outstanding reputation of educational opportunities of Haaga-Helia, eventually opening new doors to working life.

The theme for 2020 applications was local sustainability and diversity. In Kuntras’ case, the application process was quite easy due to double nationality and vocational school degree from Perho.

However, the actual entrance exam did have its challenges. Just before the entrance examination, Covid-19 hit the globe and the exam had to be completed online. It consisted of mathematical assignments and an essay. The final part of the examination was a group interview on Zoom.

— I was glad to see sustainability being one of the themes of the entrance examination, as it is our responsibility to increase awareness and act towards better choices.

Curiosity, good drive and can-do attitude

As a freshman, Kuntras has still a lot ahead. After his first year of Hospitality, Tourism & Experience Management studies, Kuntras will be continuing in the Hospitality Management stream.

— We will study the art and science of experiences, finance and psychology concerning the hospitality industry, and communication skills, Kuntras says.

Moving on to the second year, the studies get more business orientated and start to introduce personal marketing sales. Beyond a broad professional network, students can apply theory in practice with real-life situations, and learn how to develop, plan and experiment with a diverse set of business ideas in prior to professional working life. This adds confidence and basic knowledge on how to strategically approach projects after graduation.

— There are also plenty of free elective courses to choose from. One of my choices is the Basics of Coding. Hospitality and technology professionals can benefit from each other and studying some programming can help communication in between.

Kuntras strongly recommends taking that ‘’extra mile’’ when it comes to studying hospitality in Haaga-Helia.  

— If you pay attention, you can get all the essential tools needed to begin a bright career, Kuntras promises.

He thinks that it is beneficial to use the first couple of months of studies planning and looking for the right rhythm for studying, to sail in smooth waters later.

Kuntras recommends hospitality studies in Haaga-Helia to anyone, who is into entrepreneurship and has an interest in hospitality and different services. The studies offer an opportunity to invest in one’s future while making friends, having a good time and experiencing once-in-a-lifetime moments and lessons.

— It is worth mentioning that we have some of the coolest and passionate teachers you can find!

Development under the crisis

According to Kuntras, hospitality is a field where one learns best while working. Haaga-Helia is flexible with work and study, so it is possible to combine these two and achieve good results due to their synergy.

— It is a good way to learn how to manage time and be productive. That being said, it also depends on the attitude and each person’s situation, Kuntras adds.

He believes that there will be changes in the hospitality field after the coronavirus crisis has taken its toll on restaurants and hotels worldwide.

— Nevertheless, positive outcomes usually thrive after hardships and the restaurant industry has a reputation for being resilient.

While Covid-19 is still affecting not only professional, but student life preventing people from spending time on campus and experiencing social events, Kuntras is looking forward to the big scale events of the future, for example, the Kekri festival.

Kuntras himself is expecting to find a new professional path through the degree program.

— I’m already confident with what’s ahead as long as I keep putting the work into it, he says.

Do you want to study in Finland and create a strong career path in the service sector? Apply to Haaga-Helia!