The STF Swiss Textile School has been THE competence center in the textile, fashion and lifestyle industry in Switzerland since 1881. The school stands for sustainable educational competence covering the entire life cycle of textile, fashion and lifestyle products and offers numerous training and further education, from basic education to master’s degree.
Recently, the CEO of Swiss Textile & Fashion Institute, SONJA AMPORT had a courtesy conversation with Denim Focus Coordinator Pranta Biswas. We are fascinated with her passionate work ethic and her extensive specialist knowledge that has driven the development of STF. As a trained textile teacher, trainer with a federal certificate, business economist FH and a master’s in international management, she relies on a versatile educational backpack. Sonja Amport now leads the fortunes of the STF and, thanks to the support of her great team, she continues to advance it. For our readers, the conversation is drafted below.
Sonja Amport: The situation for global textile education during the pandemic is challenging. Students are traveling little at the time and staying in their countries. Accordingly, we have slowed down the pace of our internationalization strategy and the expansion of our master’s degrees and certificates. In 2022, we will start with a new concept and will align our marketing and communication with it. Our idea is to rely more on blended learning, which means we combine online courses with a few stays in Switzerland. This offers our students many advantages. They no longer need to stay abroad for one or two years but can benefit more flexibly from our textile heritage, our knowledge and innovations.
Pranta: In which area future Textile professionals should focus more on sustainable growth?
Sonja Amport: I think professionals should focus more on mass production, lean innovation processes and how companies can become more sustainable. These will be the key factors in the future. In addition, the supply chain should be improved and individualized production processes will become more important for our industry. Customers want to wear unique and sustainable pieces – especially in European countries – and they are willing to pay for it.
At the Swiss Textile and Fashion Institute (STF), we are offering a new online course in English (CAS) in Sustainability Management in Textiles for the textile industry, starting in August 2021. This could be interesting for students from abroad to learn about the latest initiatives, standards and labels and to find out in which direction sustainability will develop.
Pranta: What is your personal experience in operating such a global educational Institution?
Sonja Amport: It`s a positive adventure and a challenge at the same time. It takes a lot of heart, passion, cultural as well as business knowledge and an understanding of customer needs – yes, we call our students customer. The lifecycle of education is moving faster due to changes in the industry and society. Every day is different, but that makes it adventurous and challenging. Qualified staff is the key factor not only for companies, but especially for a school providing educational services.
Pranta: What is your inspiration for day-to-day growth?
Sonja Amport: My employees, team members, customers, students and our industry shareholders.
Pranta: Any special message you want to convey to the global Textile Industry?
Sonja Amport: It is important for leaders to be open-minded, listens to the ideas of your shareholders and stakeholders and to try to place them in the market. Example: We just started with an incubator & makerspace to offer our pool of machinery not only to students but also to young start-ups and industry for experimentation. The idea came from a young start-up from the industry and brings us many new users to the STF.
Another point: doing good and talking about it. We – that is, the whole industry – should communicate more about our positive achievements, just as other industries do.