The quality of education provided by IFT ensures graduates are well equipped with skills highly transferable for use in industries other than tourism, particularly in sectors with a strong focus on customer service. That is according to Mr. Carrel Ieong, holder of a Bachelor Degree in Tourism Business Management from IFT. He has been working in e-commerce and digital communications for more than a decade.
Since last year, Mr. Ieong has been Vice President of Marketing and Communications and Head of Digital Communications at the Singapore Exchange Ltd. The latter operates one of the world’s largest securities market platforms.
Mr. Ieong graduated from IFT in 2005 with a prestigious best graduate scholarship. He subsequently earned another scholarship to pursue a postgraduate degree. Mr. Ieong obtained a Master’s Degree – with distinction – in Tourism Marketing from the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom.
Mr. Ieong says it was his passion for travel – and commitment to help others make the most of their holiday time – that led him to study tourism at IFT.
“I am certain that this decision was correct,” he says. “At IFT, the learning-by-doing approach allowed me to put theory from textbooks into practice. This unique experience set me apart from fresh graduates from other institutions when I started working.”
E-commerce was not on Mr. Ieong’s radar when he began studying at the Institute. That changed after he returned to Macao from his postgraduate studies in Europe: there, he came in close contact with the latest travel-sector e-commerce trends.
“I started to believe that digital technology would radically change our perspective of the world, and I began paying more attention to this field,” Mr. Ieong says.
His professional experience of e-commerce and digital communications has mostly focused on travel and tourism, including working for large-scale integrated resorts in Macao and Singapore.
Mr. Ieong says the tourism industry and e-commerce share similar philosophies, namely an “obsession” with offering clients a quality, customer-focused experience. While in tourism that is achieved via high service standards and well-established operational processes, in e-commerce it is all about using information and communication technologies to engage and satisfy customers.
“As the 2 disciplines share many things in common, I find that the skills acquired in my tourism studies are highly transferable to the digital field and many other professions that require a similar level of ‘customer obsession’,” he says.
Recognising the new challenges – including in the legal field – posed by the development of digital technologies, Mr. Ieong decided to pursue a Master of Laws Degree in this area at U.K.’s University of Edinburgh, with his studies focusing on innovation, information technologies and e-commerce. He says the programme helped sharpen his skills for critical thinking, something especially useful for his work at the Singapore Exchange.
Mr. Ieong urges IFT students not to overthink their next step once they graduate from the Institute.“Follow your instinct,” he says. “Choose what you believe is right for you and stay passionate about it.”