Bart van Wijk grew up in Holland and his family moved to Beijing in 1998 with his father's employment. He and his younger sister joined WAB when it was still at its original location and went only through Grade 8. In 2001, he returned to Holland for high school. There were noticeable differences for Bart between the schools. "At WAB, the teachers were your friends." he says, "You could go to the teachers with your problems, even after class."
After graduating from high school, Bart completed training in hotel management in the Hague. He returned to Beijing in 2009 for a 7-month management internship at the Westin hotel, Financial Street, after which he decided to stay. Bart is now enjoying his position as a Sales Manager at the Hilton hotel in Beijing. "The work is fun and challenging. I get such satisfaction when guests leave and have had a good stay with us.
Bart first became interested in hotel management as a youngster in Beijing. During that time, his family travelled quite a lot throughout Asia staying in a variety of hotels. He still remembers one stay at the Sino-Swiss hotel at the airport where he met a hotel manager also named Bart, who recognized Bart's interest in his job and showed him some of the "back stage" world of hotel work. And that was the beginning of a career goal.
Bart won't be with Hilton much longer; he has decided to return to Holland this month to get a Master's degree in Marketing. He says with a smile, "I guess I haven't had enough of the student life yet." Following completion of the degree, he plans to stay in the hotel industry. "I'd love to start a consulting company in the hotel and hospitality industry. I would like to help start-ups in third-world countries grow their hotel or restaurant businesses," he says, "in a sustainable and profitable way."
In Beijing for the last ten years, Bart has made a point to return to WAB at every opportunity, usually 3-4 times per year. He has represented the hotel industry at WAB career fairs and he took part in the 15th anniversary events. "I like coming back to WAB. It is a vibrant place and I like to see my old teachers." His former teachers, Bob Blanch, Greg Dorge, Rob Korfage, and Andy Murphy are still at WAB.
We wish Bart all the best in the next stage of his career and we hope that he stays in touch with WAB wherever his journey leads. His family has a plaque on the WAB bridge - look for it next time you crpss- commemorating their support for the school and reminding those of us here now of the connection to WAB that continues well the school years, as it gas for Bart.
"My WAB teachers gave me the tools I use now to be proactive in my work. I didn't memorize tables; I learned to calculate. Your teacher is a guide to discovery, to thinking, and to finding out the reasons behind things."