Saturday, August 11, 2012

Ladies Finishing School in 2012?

Concluding my ocean crossing last week on the RMS - Queen Mary 2, I had the pleasure and honour to visit a business colleague Madame Viviane Neri in Montreux, Switzerland.  Now Madame Neri owns one of the world’s most famous and well-respected ladies finishing schools.  While we were touring the school, I asked Madame Neri what I perceived as an innocent but most relevant question on all of our minds “why do women need to go to a ladies finishing school in the year 2012?”

Well foolish me for asking such a question, because I certainly got a bit of a well deserved earful.  As we ignorantly think of a ladies finishing schools, we perceive them as something antiquated of the past where ladies were taught how to dress and be a “perfect hostess” in a world where the man worked and the lady stayed home, kept house, raised their perfect children and lived and breathed to make her home perfect.  But nothing could be further from the truth, this school in 2012 has nothing to do with ladies who lunch, but is focused on training women to become professionals at international business.  It may seem silly to some, but understanding cross-cultural communication and being able to use these to your advantage in business gives you a distinctive advantage.  During the 6-week program students learn correct international table manners, table setting, correct and appropriate conversation and how to position this knowledge to their strict advantage. This school is so tough it even has 45 exams during the 6-week program in order to graduate with a diploma.  Remember many business deals occur in places other than a boardroom, and this is where the Institut Villa Pierrefeu has a distinct advantage as the oldest finishing school.  In fact our very own Queen Elizabeth II would be a great example.  She conducts international public relations, events and ceremonies on behalf of the government, but in her case she was taught these skills at home.  Today, the modern woman goes to this type of school to learn these vital skills.

So who is the typical student?  Well interestingly enough, women attend the school from North America, The Middle East and Asia.  It truly is a globally attended program, and just in case you are wondering, it is both middle class and everyone all the way up the social ladder to Royal families who makes up today’s typical classroom.  Now I would be remiss if I did not mention that as Canadians we will all be proud to learn that the Head Instructor at this school is Mrs. Rosemary McCullum, a born and raised fellow Canadian!  When I found this out, I was once again reminded one of the many reasons why I am so proud to be a Canadian!  The Swiss have imported a fellow Canadian to teach international manners to the world!

 Madame Viviane Neri
Proprietor and Friend

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