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A fresh start for hospitality

Jenny Ang, managing director of Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne's Singapore campus talks about setting up the school during a pandemic.

Jenny Ang,
managing director,
Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne’s Singapore campus

Singapore.ehl.edu

When it comes to building a career, there are the movers and the stayers – those who easily segue from one industry or company to another every few years, and those who stick with the same employer throughout their career. Jenny Ang would have fit into the second category, if not for an opportunity that beckoned.

She took the plunge from managing a music school to launching a hospitality school when she left her role as a deputy director at the Yong Siew Toh (YST) Conservatory of Music to become the managing director for Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne’s (EHL) campus in Singapore. Reputed to be one of the top hospitality schools in the world, Ms Ang is heading its first overseas campus.

Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne Campus

Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne Campus

“The opportunity came at the right time for me, in my forties,” says the 41-year-old who was in charge of artistic administration and strategic development at YST. Besides an honours degree in Piano Performance from Trinity College of Music, she also has an Executive MBA from Aalto University in Finland.

The latter gives her the business skills that she needs, despite her lack of hospitality experience, she says. That, plus her Asian outlook and experience in running a school. Her decision to switch careers was also to show her two teenage daughters that career progression is possible at any age. “My daughters saw me go through the EMBA studies several years ago and continuing to find opportunities. It’s important for me, as a mother, that they see me evolve,” she says.

Now that she has stepped comfortably into her new role, it is full speed ahead to get the campus at Lady Hill Road ready for its students in September. The Singapore campus offers a Bachelor of Science in International Hospitality Management.

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She is in the midst of setting up her team of both faculty and administration personnel, as well as the IT system so that hyflex elements can be included in the educational model. She also wants to develop EHL’s presence in South-east Asia, “such as giving more opportunities to Southeast Asian students to study in Singapore, or for our alumni members to work with regional communities.”

The differences between music and hospitality are not so stark for her yet. “They both aim to tell a story and deliver an experience,” she says. “Perhaps with hospitality, you have to make it profitable from day one, whereas with the arts, you can still depend on your patrons for support.”

Ms Ang adds that there is no better time than now to have a higher education institution for hospitality in Singapore. After all, there has been a growth in the number of five-star hotels and Michelin-starred restaurants. “And with more professionals interested in starting their own restaurants, there should be a space for those who want to pursue their passion in hospitality,” she says.

She isn’t too bothered that the hospitality sector has been hit hard during this pandemic, knowing that people are itching to travel and this sector will flourish again.

“Our opening now is the perfect time to get ready students for the new future in hospitality,” she says.

This article was originally published in The Business Times.

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