The hospitality industry is booming in Vietnam and RMIT Vietnam graduates are grabbing the opportunities with both hands.
The university does not yet offer a specific hospitality degree but that’s not holding students back.
The Vietnamese hotel industry is growing at about eight per cent a year and as of 2012 there were 540,000 food outlets in the country. With degrees in business, marketing, commerce and entrepreneurship, RMIT Vietnam’s graduates are marching out to take their places in the hospitality industry.
Le Thi My Trinh, banquet sales executive at the Grand Hotel Saigon, and Truong Thi Huong Thuy, quality and continuous improvement officer at the five-star Crowne Plaza West Hanoi, graduated recently with bachelor degrees in commerce and business respectively.
Trinh finds banqueting means she meets many people as she learns the tools of her trade: food, wine and even contract law.
“At work I’ve reapplied what I learnt at RMIT Vietnam: assignments, reports, presentations – they are so close to the real world.
“Presentation and research skills are my strong points and I can work well in a team or individually.”
Thuy took a more gradual but equally as effective approach to the world of hospitality work.
During her internship as assistant to the general manager of Crowne Plaza West Hanoi, Thuy was exposed to high-level management, learning how the hotel worked.
“I gradually took an interest in guest experiences and service quality, the main themes of my job now,” she said.
“Then I worked on a project preparing for the InterContinental Hotels Group 2014 standards evaluation. We passed it with the highest score for all brands in IHG Asia, Middle East and Africa.
“As soon as I graduated, I got the job.”
RMIT Vietnam student Chris Ngo, who has amassed more than 10 years of experience in senior positions with KFC in Singapore, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and RuNam Coffee Corporation in Ho Chi Minh City, will graduate this year with an MBA degree.
Chris learned hospitality at KFC Singapore for over five years, completing formal qualifications in hospitality management.
Returning to HCMC where she grew up, she worked at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf chain to finance MBA studies at RMIT, helping redevelop seven stores before moving on to another coffee shop, RuNam, which is currently developing its sixth store.
Chris works hard to enforce punctuality and high service standards at RuNam.
“I find some people are not serious about their job; they don’t understand the boundary between professional behaviour and having fun with their friends. In the food and beverage industry workers must comply with standards.”
“I’m passionate about coffee, heart and soul. When I’m committed to something it has to be done well.”
Le Vo Quang Huy, who graduated from RMIT Vietnam in 2009 with a degree in commerce, now holds a marketing position in Sydney with Golden Bakehouse, a 10 year-old company that plans to expand into a large franchise in the near future. Huy’s ultimate goal is to create a Vietnamese food franchise to “provide an exceptional Vietnamese dining experience to global consumers”.
Huy points out that he loves food and says eating is an awesome part of his job.
“A marketing job in a café and bakery chain allows me to try new dining experiences,” he said.
“Our marketing team chooses food and drink selected from our customer demand analysis process. Then we go to company plants tasting new products.”
Huy, who worked with L’Oreal Vietnam before moving to Australia for postgraduate studies, is enthusiastic about high standards in his industry.
“In terms of personal career perception, the word hospitality means professional performance,” he said.
“Hospitality represents a win-win situation in which the seller’s happiness is to make the customer happy.”
He believes the hospitality industry is a challenging environment to be a marketing professional.
“Where the products on offer are generally identical, choosing an appropriate marketing tactic to highlight our competency can be a dilemma for a small company with limited budget.”
“It’s a tough environment that a high calibre person would enjoy.”