Over the last 20 years, Wassim Takriti (EMBA ‘22) has guided some of the most recognizable hospitality brands in the world. In his home country of Lebanon, he helped open U.S. franchise concepts such as Planet Hollywood and TGI Fridays. After earning his bachelor’s in hospitality management from C&E College, he embarked on an internship with the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa, where he fulfilled every possible role before earning a promotion to banquet manager. He has also served as general manager of the Sundial Restaurant, Bar & View—located on the 72nd level of the Westin Peachtree Plaza—and director of food and beverage outlets for the St. Regis Atlanta.
Considering Takriti’s penchant for ascending literal heights, it makes sense that he eventually found his way to overseeing retail and dining experiences in airports. If you’ve stopped in a shop or grabbed a quick meal before a flight at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, you likely have encountered his work. Takriti is regional vice president of dining operations for Paradies Lagardère, a travel retailer and restaurateur that handles $1.2 billion in annual sales from more than 1,200 stores, restaurants, and bars in more than 100 airports across North America.
Yet, with all his success, Takriti has bigger goals to achieve. He always dreamed of pursuing an advanced degree, so when the pandemic halted most air travel, he enrolled in Robinson’s Executive MBA (EMBA) program.
“Robinson has a great reputation in the industry,” he said. “It was really a no-brainer.”
Because of volatile markets caused by Covid-19, the pandemic turned out to be an interesting time to study international business and executive management.
“Our instructors framed their classes within real-world scenarios,” Takriti said. “They possess great experience and can discuss growth strategies and decision-making on a global level.”
Takriti and his cohort conducted in-depth research on business operations. One study focused on Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel just as the company prepared to launch the COVID-19 vaccine. The class also examined how Boeing navigated pandemic-related travel fluctuations.
“In the past I only approached business from an operational standpoint. The EMBA program taught me to think like an executive who makes decisions that impact every part of a company,” Takriti said. “Now I’m looking into C-suite positions with global reach because I understand how to build successful teams, products, and strategies.”