B.H.M.S. graduate Anh Nguyen Thao is a well-loved lecturer at Hanoi University in Vietnam, where she teaches hospitality. From studying German to doing her MBA in Switzerland to finally teaching the next generation, her path has been unconventional, but one thing seems clear: she was destined to end up in the hospitality industry.
With a bachelor’s degree in German and fluent in both Korean and English, Anh’s interest in languages enabled her to land her first job in hospitality, quite by chance. When she applied for the role of telephone operator at JW Marriott, the hotel happened to be hosting a swath of Samsung employees and was specifically looking for multilingual speakers. As a self-proclaimed extrovert, Anh thrived in the customer-centred environment where she got to speak to people all day, answering phone calls and enjoying interactions with guests.
This first taste of working in hospitality inspired Anh to explore options for further study in the field. Not wanting to set aside her German entirely, an internet search drew her attention to Switzerland. A partially German-speaking country famous for its hospitality, it seemed like the perfect fit, and the MBA at B.H.M.S. would allow her to get a degree in a new field without having to do another bachelor’s — the next fork in Anh’s road was determined.
“At B.H.M.S., we really gain experience in a lot of different sectors,” Anh states, and her own teaching curriculum is evidence of this; she currently lectures in Housekeeping Management, Hospitality Management, Sustainability in Tourism, Food & Beverage, Operations Management, and Project Management in Tourism. Next semester she will be adding the Tour Guide Skills course to this lengthy list and points to her time at BHMS as the source of her confidence in each of these areas.
During her internships she gained valuable experience at in two different hotels as a front office agent. These positions taught her how to think on her feet and solve problems quickly, especially during night shifts when housekeeping was not available. After graduating, she returned to Vietnam where she worked as a duty manager/assistant front office manager at the Hotel de l'Opera in Hanoi.
The next curve in Anh’s career path came during the pandemic. With very few guests, hotels used the opportunity to focus on training their staff and hospitality students — which, to her own surprise, Anh loved. This new interest, backed by her studies and experience, prompted Anh to take a step back and use her knowledge and story to inspire the next generation of hospitality students by going into lecturing.
“I’m so happy doing what I do now, in Vietnam,” Anh says, reflecting on her winding road and its inevitable destination.
“They say that you don’t choose the career, the career chooses you, and it definitely feels like that’s been the case for me.”
Her journey of learning has not stopped Anh certainly has a lot of good advice for aspiring hospitality workers - from learning German by listening to train announcements, to being strategic when it comes to choosing internships. However, she insists that her own story is the most valuable thing she can offer her students.
“Get as much experience as you can, work part-time jobs alongside your studies, be actively involved in the industry! The hands-on experience I gained during my time as an MBA student stands testimony to this.”