The American School in SwitzerlandThe American School in Switzerland
Sara Rosso Cipolini on Business and Happiness

Planhotel Hospitality Group President Sara Rosso Cipolini addressed the senior class in the Palmer Center on the evening of February 17, marking the third installment of the 2019–2020 TASIS Speaker Series. Her talk was entitled “Happiness Is Our Goal” and can be viewed in full above.

Ms. Cipolini covered a great deal of ground in her address and challenged students to think deeply about a number of questions, including the following:

  • What is it about Planhotel’s core beliefs that have led both its workforce and its client base to remain loyal for decades?

  • Why is it so important for a successful business to create emotions, to be a trendsetter, and to practice environmental and social sustainability?

  • What is the purpose of a business? What does it bring to the world that matters?

  • Shouldn’t happiness be our ultimate goal? Why are some nations beginning to measure Gross National Happiness (GNH) vs Gross Domestic Product (GDP)? 

  • For a young person starting out in the world, what characteristic is essential to happiness?

At the conclusion of her address in the Palmer Center, Ms. Cipolini answered a number of questions from her captivated audience. She then moved to Casa Fleming to continue the discussion with a smaller group of students for an additional hour.

Ms. Cipolini also visited a number of classes over the course of her two days on campus, including IB Business Management, IB Literature A, and IB English B. She closed her visit with a lovely dinner at a local grotto with the TASIS Speaker Series Committee, which is chaired by English Department Chair Dr. Chris Love and comprises both students and faculty members.

Ms. Cipolini was educated in Italy and Switzerland. After graduating from high school, she attended professional development programs in Accounting, Financial Management, Hospitality Sales, Strategic Marketing, and Asset Management at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. 

From 1989–1997, Ms. Cipolini worked for Pantravel SA (a forerunner of Planhotel SA) and traveled widely, organizing and accompanying incentive groups all over the world. Since 2008, she has served as the president of Planhotel, a company for which she was Managing Director from 1997–2007 and which specializes in resorts ownership, management, supervising, planning, and development of new projects. This group now comprises 10 resorts, hotels, and spas in Kenya, Zanzibar, Mozambique, Maldives, Italy, and Switzerland.

Ms. Cipolini is an active member of the Lugano community and has served on the TASIS Board of Directors since 2013. She has also been a founding member of the Association of Family Enterprise Ticino (AIFT), which now includes more than 50 enterprises, since 2015.

TASIS Speaker Series

The TASIS Speaker Series (TSS), formerly known as the Senior Humanities Program (SHP) and renamed in 2018 to more accurately reflect its present purpose, draws from five fundamental elements of the TASIS identity—truth, goodness, beauty, international understanding, and humanitarian action—to provide TASIS students with a signature educational experience.

The TSS Committee selects four speakers each year who embody the pillars of the program—with priority given to speakers who fulfill those virtues in some capacity. The Committee strives for a variety of voices, backgrounds, and professions represented in each year’s group but ultimately selects speakers on the basis of their ability to enhance the intellectual and moral experience of the outgoing seniors and the community as a whole. Preceding Ms. Cipolini in the 2019–2020 lineup were Dr. Janne Sirén ’88, the Peggy Pierce Elfvin Director of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and Mr. Thomas Sparrow, a Deutsche Welle correspondent.

Although the TSS focuses on students near the end of their TASIS careers, the program aspires to serve as an educative instrument for the entire division, creating opportunities for all High School students to interact with people and ideas of significance that are concerned with the world beyond the TASIS campus. Students enhance their intellectual experience through discussions, lectures, class visits, and film screenings centered on some combination of truth, goodness, beauty, international understanding, and humanitarian action. Above all else, the program conveys a clear message to students about what the School hopes for and expects from them after they leave TASIS.

The influential program was initially made possible by a CHF 100,000 donation from TASIS parents Michael and Jane Grindfors to The M. Crist Fleming Endowment for International Understanding and Leadership in 2008. It remains an integral part of a TASIS education thanks to ongoing support from the TASIS Board of Directors and the excellent behind-the-scenes work done by a dedicated group of students and faculty members.

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