Student Name: Tu Tuan Cuong
Course: BA (Hons) International Hospitality and Tourism Management and MSc International Management and Leadership with Hospitality
Hometown/Country: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Year of graduation: 2019
Tu Tuan Cuong graduated earlier this year with an MSc in International Management and Leadership with Hospitality from Queen Margaret University (QMU) at the East Asia Institute of Management (EASB). EASB are one of the University’s partner institutions - based in Singapore - and deliver QMU developed programmes in management, tourism, hospitality, leadership and person-centred practices such as nursing and community care.
Since graduating, Tu has returned to his native Vietnam to work as a lecturer in Tourism at Van Lang University. He also plans to begin studying for his PhD in the next few years. Read our full interview below.
Why did you choose to study with QMU and EASB, and what attracted you to the course?
I wanted to study with QMU and EASB because I was aware of their strong reputation for providing hospitality courses. I was also drawn to this pathway because of the friendly and interactive small classes; this meant that I was able to receive a higher level of support from my lecturers.
Both the BA (Hons) and MSc courses covered key aspects of business management, while still allowing me to focus on my passion for hospitality. Instead of doing the traditional dissertation, I had the opportunity to take a Community Impact and Practice module which allowed me to partner with external organisations to implement a charitable program for beneficiaries.
Looking back, I feel that this course was the perfect option as it not only provided me with the academic theories and practical experiences necessary for a long career in hospitality but also trained and nurtured me to be a good graduate with strong, ethical values.
What did you enjoy most about your course? What were the highlights?
I enjoyed the way each module was delivered. I was allowed to select and focus on key people, topics and contemporary issues of interest so that I could be able to apply critical and reflective thinking, as well as the advanced practical research skills that I obtained, to appraise both pieces of evidence and theoretical underpinnings. I also found that the delivery of the course made the whole learning process more engaging and rewarding. I found myself extremely interested in research areas such as sustainable community-based tourism development, opportunities and the challenges faced by pink (LGBT) tourism in South-eastern Asian countries, as well as applied technology in food and drink operations.
What challenges did you face with the course and/or university life? How did you overcome them?
Before coming to EASB, I had a lack of self-confidence when it came to public speaking. However, as I progressed through my BA (Hons) course and into the MSc, I had the opportunity to work on a wide range of individual and group presentations, teamwork, consultations and negotiations with several tourism, development and community projects – all of which helped me to overcome this problem. A highlight for me was getting the chance to publicly present my heritage tourism research paper at the ASEAN Tourism Research Association Conference (ATRAC 2018) in Phuket, Thailand - while I was still studying on the undergraduate course.
I have realised that the improvement of my public speaking skills is not only helping me to reduce language barriers and perform well with public interactions but has also improved my interview technique and subsequently boosted my employability. Working and dealing with people are vital factors in the hospitality industry, so excellent communication and public speaking skills are essential in my line of work.
Do you have any advice for current hospitality students?
Learning doesn’t just come in the form of lectures, especially if you're going abroad to study a Hospitality degree. Go outside and say YES to opportunities as they will allow you to explore and broaden your perspective in all kinds of ways. The spirit of hospitality is about having a welcoming heart, as well as being focused on the movement and treatment of people, food and culture worldwide.
"Learning doesn’t just come in the form of lectures, especially if you're going abroad to study a Hospitality degree. Go outside and say YES to opportunities as they will allow you to explore and broaden your perspective in all kinds of ways."
Life as a Student
What’s your ‘top tip’ for making the most of being a student?
Whenever life throws a challenge your way, an “I can – I will” attitude will show you how valuable you are and can make all the difference. By being humble and keeping up your passion, productivity, and professionalism, as well as putting yourself at the root of any problems, you will see significant improvements, and that will lead you to success.
What was the most valuable lesson that you learned at university?
The most valuable lesson that I learned whilst at university is to be able to share and exchange knowledge. Through conversations and discussions with my lecturers and peers, I significantly improved and changed my perspective and acquired more confidence in networking - both of which are vital in the hospitality sector.
Can you tell us about your life post-graduation (your career path, notable achievements, etc.)?
I am currently working full-time as a lecturer in the Faculty of Tourism at Van Lang University, one of the most prestigious hospitality and tourism (H&T) schools in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. I am also planning to boost my knowledge and to eventually conquer the heights of my field by gaining the Doctorate of Philosophy (Tourism and Hospitality) in the next three to five years.
[Published November 2019]