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Brad Gessner Blog Post NEW!

February 11, 2015

I’m writing this for anyone considering enrolling in San Diego State University’s on-line Master’s in Hospitality & Tourism Management program.

First, here’s a little background about me.

I am a 35 year veteran of the Public Assembly Facility Management industry having spent time with the Sheraton Hotel Corporation, San Antonio Convention facilities department, and most recently as General Manager of the San Diego Convention Center Corporation (2006-2012).

In the spring of 2012 I decided to apply to be in the first Cohort of this new on-line Master’s program primarily because I thought it would look good optically for my consulting enterprise I was launching, and would assist me in pursuing my goal of teaching at the university level someday.

I must confess that I was less than enamored with the on-line type of teaching/curriculum having gone through under graduate programs in the 1970’s and being of the misguided old school belief that you have to sit in a classroom or lecture hall listening to a professor (or Graduate Assistant) drone on for an hour in a monotone voice while taking copious notes to truly learn at the university level.

I now know how wrong I was.

I was fortunate to be accepted to the new HTM program and last August we embarked on the journey that has proven to be one of the best learning experiences of my entire life.

The kick off week was well planned and chocked full of lectures, visiting experts in our field, projects and team building and “leadership immersion” (HTM 601) learning experiences.

Then the on-line portion started with Professor Larry Beck, PhD teaching the Directed Readings class (HTM 790). Great reading and I learned so much about entrepreneurialism, business and leadership style. Then Jeff Campbell’s class on Financial Analysis in HTM (HTM 651) gave me incredible insight and knowledge about practical business techniques in analyzing businesses and how to manage the financial aspects of the industry that were very insightful. Next was  “Leading in Complex Human Systems” (HTM 653). That class raised the bar even higher with Lori Sipe and Mark Testa, PhD teaching a class focused on leadership theory and techniques past-present and future.

I am now the Vice President of Convention Centers for AEG Facilities in Los Angeles, and can tell you there is no question in my mind that the knowledge I have attained in the past six months from the excellent coursework and instruction provided through the SDSU Master’s in HTM has helped me succeed in my new position.

Living in Los Angeles, the only way I could participate and benefit from this coursework is through the on-line program, which I have found to be convenient and more conducive to learning than the classroom style of teaching. It allows busy executives to log on to Blackboard and watch lectures, read materials and complete coursework and exams at their convenience. I am now a true believer that the on-line learning system is the best way to learn for busy executives.

Suffice it to say I’m a big fan of SDSU’s Master’s in Hospitality and Tourism program, and highly recommend it to any executive in the hospitality, tourism or public assembly facility management field.

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