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Barney: Studying hotel management for the next generation

After a chance encounter with the International College of Hotel Management (ICHM) at a career fair, Barney Leung knew that a career in hospitality was right for him. Choosing to study hospitality in Australia, Barney completed his studies with ICHM in Adelaide.

We spoke to Barney who shared his experience of studying hospitality at ICHM and being an international student in Adelaide.

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Why did you choose to study hotel management?

Some people thought it was an unusual decision for a student like me from an international school in Hong Kong to choose to study hotel management.

Many of my peers pursued more orthodox careers such as medicine, engineering and law. However, I wasn’t interested in these options, or in the idea of taking university classes for three or more years, so pursuing a Master’s in a unique area I enjoyed was perfect for me.

Why did you choose ICHM?

I started my studies in Adelaide at ICHM in 2016.

My first encounter with ICHM came about purely by chance. I was volunteering at a career fair at my school in Hong Kong and was assigned to meet university delegates at the front entrance and guide them to their respective booths.

As fate would have it, the first delegate I met was none other than ICHM’s Director of Marketing, Simon Ruston. As I already had an interest in hospitality at that point, Simon and I immediately struck up a conversation.

A few months later, I sealed my intention to enrol at ICHM after I connected with others I had met during the career fair.

Why is ICHM the best place to study tourism and hospitality?

For me, the practical aspect of hotel management at ICHM was interesting. I believe that alongside my academic studies, the opportunity to do placements in properties around the world was too good to pass up, including my first incredible placement at the Shangri-La in Sydney.

In my second year, an ICHM alumni in Tokyo happened to be looking for a student who spoke Japanese to undertake a possible placement at their property. As it happens, I have been studying Japanese as a hobby for five years since high school, hence I jumped at the opportunity for a placement in Tokyo. This is a practical demonstration of ICHM’s catch phrase “network, network, network!”

The reinforcement of the different levels of my abilities ensured I was well-equipped to tackle the more challenging workloads of subsequent school years, and as I near the end of my studies, I am excited and eager to continue my career in hospitality.

I can wholeheartedly endorse ICHM to people who have their hearts and minds set on a hospitality career and are looking for an institution to guide them and help them forge lasting relationships that will define them for years to come.

What is it like working in tourism and hospitality?

On a personal level, I find it quite gratifying, rewarding and fulfilling to be able to speak with people from a multitude of backgrounds on a daily basis. Whilst they are by no means simple, I also find the challenges associated with hotel management intellectually stimulating.

What’s your favourite thing about studying in Adelaide?

The chance to study hospitality in Adelaide has given me a range of transferable skills, and my experiences have afforded me a global perspective, with knowledge of not only the specifics of hotel management, but the entire hospitality industry.

Plus, in 2019, I was awarded the Dux Channe and a $1,000 cheque from the Australian Hotels Association, to help me jump-start my career.

After you graduate, where would you like to take your hotel management career?

I will be returning to the same role I held during my placement in Tokyo, working at the bell desk, as concierge and at the front desk.

I haven’t ruled out returning to ICHM for my Master’s degree, to work towards my long-term goal of becoming a General Manager.

Do you have any words of advice for Hong Kong students interested to study in Adelaide?

It’s said that travel broadens the mind and, for those studying, or planning to study, in the hospitality industry, this will only improve your career prospects in the future. If a chance to study abroad comes up, you should definitely consider it!

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