A Peek Into Mr Isaac’s Life
Take “A Peek Into” Mr Isaac’s Life, head of school for the School of Tourism & Hospitality (STH) and find out what happens behind the scenes.
What do you do as the head of school for STH?
Ultimately, it revolves around our mission of maximising the future readiness of our learners.
Since the pandemic, classes have moved online. The priority has been about ensuring our local and international students have a good learning journey. This was something new not only for learners but for most of the faculty too.
It’s been a year now and through various trials and errors, I am glad we have embraced these nicely. It’s interesting to see the various educational tools used by different lecturers such as break-out rooms, Kahoot, Padlet to deliver the classes online and keeping learners engaged. Redesigning learning is a tedious process which requires lots of thought and reflection, but I must admit the team did very well here and I am proud of them.
Another one of my roles is keeping the syllabus relevant considering an evolving tourism and hospitality industry. Recently, we completed a major review of our pre-degree programmes and decided to bring in new modules such as digital marketing, information technology and artificial intelligence, intercultural communication and service quality to name a few.
Finally, it’s the entire spectrum of school operations ranging from strategic planning, sales and marketing support, admissions, student and academic support to achieving the budget.
What do you love about the Tourism & Hospitality Industry?
It’s never a routine day, is it? I realised early I had this huge amount of energy in me and the food and beverage sector suited me fine. I love the pace, constantly learning a variety of operational and management skills, the multicultural aspects which has taught me so much about appreciating language and culture besides increasing my circle of friends worldwide, the opportunity to contribute and create memorable moments, travel opportunities as the core skills are transferable globally. Actually, the list goes on as there’s just so much to this exciting industry – so I will just stop here and invite you to explore it.
What would the students be surprised to find out about you?
I started work early to sustain myself. At 10, I was washing cars and just moved on to any available part-time job during my free time such as packing, cleaning and eventually at 14, I was introduced to kitchen stewarding. From the kitchen, I was exposed to the glamorous side of the restaurant and after countless part-time positions in hotels that don’t exist today such as Garden Hotel, Phoenix Hotel, Seaview Hotel, Paramount Hotel etc, I decided this was where I wanted to develop myself after my O’levels and managed to secure an industry scholarship into the Singapore Hotel School.
Any tips for students who are pursuing their studies in Tourism & Hospitality?
Since the pandemic, this industry has undergone a lot globally, but the desire to travel, and demand for food and beverages will return as we are seeing the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) being established. Many have also moved on from this industry with no plans to return, creating a vacuum of staff. This presents so many opportunities and possibilities to develop and progress. We are already seeing a huge manpower shortage in this industry today.
In STH, we offer practical skills development which is critical for the industry, as well as internship opportunities locally and globally. Students can leverage on the latter to explore this industry and subsequently decide their preferences.
In addition, STH equips learners with a range of business competencies that are easily transferable to other industries, such as banking & finance, technology, design, services and more.
How has the industry evolved and changed with the COVID-19 pandemic?
As countries around the world continue to curb the spread of infection, the tourism and hospitality industry has remained agile and continues to evolve by adopting various disruption management strategies such as redefined guest experiences, job redesign, digital transformation and manpower upgrades to adapt, resulting in rapidly evolving competencies.
I must add that a major contributor to developing current and forward-looking competencies are tourism and hospitality education institutes. Our primary objective remains in supporting the industry with practically and theoretically competent individuals able to meet the demands and challenges. Hence, educational institutes must perceive and consistently review existing management curricula to ensure its relevance in meeting the evolving human resource requirements of an industry undergoing significant transformation.
What were you like as a student in the past?
I am still a student right now pursuing my third Masters in Educational Leadership. I have never stopped being a student. In primary and secondary schools leading to hotel school, I was either busy with soccer/athletics or part-time work besides studying. Yes, so that’s me constantly busy with something.
If you could instantly become a master of any one skill, what skill would you pick and why?
Managing people, referring to internal and external. I mean – the world is so diverse and if I could master this skill, which I doubt, then the world is my oyster, don’t you think?