Ekaterina Pomazunova Develops Entrepreneurial Goals through WSU/César Ritz Colleges Degree

By Sue McMurray

Ekaterina Pomazunova, a recent WSU/César Ritz Colleges Switzerland graduate, began learning the art of hospitality as a young child. She’s part of a large family, and her parents commonly held feasts on holidays and special events at their home in Saratov, a provincial city in the southeast European part of Russia.

“My mother often attached special importance to this. She chose the decorations and how the festive table would look for each holiday,” says Pomazunova. “She instilled in me this special culture of Slavic hospitality, and I was certainly in love with it.”

During her childhood, when her family traveled across Europe, Pomazunova would admire the huge, shining chandeliers and bright paintings on the walls of hotels they visited. She remembers talking and playing with hotel staff who treated her with sweets.

“Growing up, I realized the atmosphere is created not only by the building but also by the hotel staff,” she says. “As an adult, I didn’t hesitate to choose to study this particular industry.”

Pomazunova enrolled in the WSU/César Ritz Colleges dual bachelor program in 2019.

“I was initially impressed with the WSU/César Ritz program because of its training opportunities, price, quality, and reputation as one of the best in the hotel industry,” she says. My education has helped me to learn how to study and predict markets. It ignited in me the mindset of a leader and entrepreneur. I stopped being afraid of my crazy ideas and put them into practice.”

Difficult doesn’t mean impossible

Pomazunova’s dream is to open her own wine business in the next three to six years.

She believes there may be potential for opening a chain of wine bars in the east or Middle East, after geopolitical changes in the past year led people in the Commonwealth of Independent States countries to move to eastern countries. There are many expats among them who are already familiar with the developed wine industry.

“Since there is a demand for such businesses in these eastern countries, there is a possible niche that can be occupied,” she says. “In some countries it is difficult to get a license to sell alcohol, but difficult does not mean impossible.”

Program fosters entrepreneurial spirit

The dual degree program trains students how to serve and understand the processes in a fine dining restaurant and buffet. A little later, they study finance, law, and operations. At the end of the training, they write a business plan for their own business venture. During this time, Pomazunova gained waitressing experience and completed an internship at the Lotte Hotel in Moscow.

“Through this training process, you grow from an ordinary waiter to an entrepreneur with your own unique vision and goals,” she says. “This is an amazing path that allows you to achieve success in the hotel industry.”

She also studied wine in classical tasting environments. She noticed the formal setting made some people feel uncomfortable, and she made it a goal to be able to cultivate wine appreciation through basic knowledge and simple explanations that are more inviting to the lay person.

Pomazunova recommends the WSU/César Ritz Colleges curriculum for its frequent interaction with professionals in the hotel industry. Several professional clubs and activities allow students to experiment and demonstrate their creativity. She says the environment was key to helping her develop entrepreneurial thinking and her own business ideas.

One advantage of the program is observing how European hospitality differs from American, she says. “In the future, I plan to use this experience and be able to adapt to a new work environment anywhere in the world.”

Since graduating, Pomazunova plans to complete a second internship and a master’s in wine management while continuing to study the wine and spirits industry.

“I make it a rule that every day is an experiment. And even if my experiment fails today, it will become my experience tomorrow. Only optimists have dreams come true,” she says.