Alumni Profile: Cindia Luest
Green Templeton College alumna Cindia Luest (Executive Education, 2005) is an author and entrepreneur. She writes for page and screen and is the Chief Executive and Creative Director of Spice Journeys, a literary, luxury and lifestyle business.
Learning and the written word have always been a passion for Cindia. Her father taught her to read at three years old, and literature and languages have been a constant companion. Looking at things from different perspectives, finding uncommon linkages and interdisciplinary thinking has also been a fascination. This is what drew Cindia to Oxford University.
Cindia’s journey in education began with International Business – Marketing (BSc/BA) from American University, Washington, DC, and then later Comparative Government (MSc) from the London School of Economics. She was awarded a scholarship by Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung to study in Berlin shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, where she took courses including economics, politics, sociology, Russian and architecture.
Her professional life started in Berlin working in management consulting, which took her to many different clients and locations around Europe. Cindia then followed her dream of serving a wider cause by applying her private sector knowledge and experience to the public sector. Working for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and based in Bratislava, Slovakia, she set up the global IT and business support network, and served as Regional CIO and Business Center Manager for Europe and CIS. Following UNDP, she decided to return to the private sector and relocate to Switzerland. As a Director at Credit Suisse, she held diverse roles, including managing the advisory process for Private Banking, managing global projects, and driving innovation initiatives.
It was her need to create and passion for entrepreneurship that led her to write and become a founder. It all started with the idea of a novel with the objective to entertain, allow readers to travel and experience other cultures through the written word, and offer food for thought by including social topics. That idea turned into so much more.
Spice Journeys is a purpose-driven business with the ambition to innovate storytelling. The business model includes publishing and e-commerce as an alternative to traditional publishing, as well as film, events, sensory storytelling and other audio-visual experiences. She has established partnerships with some of the world’s top chefs and resorts, artists and brands. The business model also involves giving back to others, including supporting initiatives in literacy, entrepreneurship and the environment.
While working at the United Nations, Cindia became interested in strategic planning. It was the interdisciplinary approach of the Oxford Scenarios Programme that brought her to Green Templeton College. This programme offered the opportunity to learn from leaders in this field. She is proud that the UN sponsored her, and she continually seeks to apply and share the virtues of this methodology. She is still in touch with the team and follows their work in continuing to champion the application of scenarios to global problems.
Cindia’s connection to Oxford University has recently deepened through her involvement with the Oxford Entrepreneurs Network (OxEN). She has not only engaged in their fantastic programmes, but is now part of the OxEN Executive Board, has produced an introductory film on the OxEN, and will soon be starting a chapter in Switzerland.
Although her ties to Oxford have been business-related, while on campus years ago, her imagination was captured by the literary greats that have come from this university. Cindia hopes to deepen her connections to the university and other faculties as well.
Cindia is originally from the US but has lived most of her life in Europe. She and her husband currently reside in Switzerland, and sometimes Slovakia. They make restaurant reservations before they book their travel, love reading and exploring the great outdoors, and enjoy tasting all that life has to offer.
Welcome to the Journey!