Imagine leaving the comforts of home, the love of family and the familiarity of a country you grew up in to move to an island without hot water, the internet or permanent housing. And while on this island, you decide to take on the biggest challenge of your career.
This is exactly what Duc Nguyen, who works for the InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG), did.
An RMIT Vietnam alumnus (Bachelor of Commerce, School of Business & Management), Duc and his team have been tasked with getting a luxury hotel up and running, from rubble to grandeur, within just a few months. To add even more pressure, this particular hotel is set to become the most expensive InterContinental resort in the world.
Fully expecting challenges ahead as the Food and Beverage Operation Manager for the pre-opening of this resort in the beautiful Maldives, Duc came in with a toolkit of skills gained from his mentors and personal experience.
“At work things happen that we can never imagine, so extremely good planning is needed, a skill which took me six years to develop. However, one cannot plan in the Maldives. A new skillset is needed here – flexibility and adaptability,” Mr Duc said.
“Champion the change. You need to manage change and develop positive thinking towards any change happening,” he said. “I try and create the change first in a world where everything is changing.”
Before leaving Vietnam for the Maldives, Mr Duc had a clear vision of the direction he wanted his career to go in – to be the first Vietnamese general manager of a luxury hotel in Vietnam – but he didn’t always possess such clarity. This direction came to him through trial and error: he tried everything from sales, human resources, teaching and translation to engineering, accounting and even gardening, through a series of internships.
It was only after an internship at the Sheraton Hanoi and his time with Future Leaders, an elite leadership development program at IHG, that he realised his passion lay in communication, people, and working in a dynamic environment.
He honed in on F&B, a department he felt ticked all these boxes, where he could also interact and laugh spontaneously with customers. He had finally found work that brought him joy.
“My passion is my job. I enjoy doing what I love every day, working in restaurants, bars and resorts,” Mr Duc said.
“Hospitality is about emotional intelligence. A good education helps you to remember the steps that you can rely on so you don’t freak out.”
His advice to students still working on their degree is to utilise the mentoring service RMIT offers.
“A mentor knows about current industry trends and can provide support when you’re lacking clarity. All RMIT students should schedule a mentoring appointment once a week, as books aren’t up-to-date. Students can then feel the excitement and know about real-life challenges. It helps them to be mentally prepared,” Mr Duc said.
The RMIT Vietnam alumnus values mentorship to such an extent that he intends to become a mentor for RMIT students in the future.
“Once I stepped out of Vietnam, it was a new world. The only thing I do is listen. People [I work with] are super experienced and by listening I learn a lot. We need to be humble in everything we do,” he shared. “I learnt this at IHG and RMIT.”
The grand opening for the Maldives InterContinental is September 1, 2019.
Story: Jamila Ahmed