Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands is one of Singapore’s iconic futuristic buildings. It has the world’s largest rooftop infinity pool, award-winning restaurants, and a wide range of shopping and entertainment options. It is also the source of inspiration for Singaporean Kimberly Yoong to study international hotel management at the Ecole hÃ´teliÃ¨re de Lausanne (EHL).
âI got my first glimpse of the hospitality industry when I came across a documentary on the famous Marina Bay Sands in Singapore,â she says. “I was immediately drawn to the dynamism of the hotel’s operations.”
Intrigued, she undertakes an internship at St. Regis in Singapore to satisfy her curiosity. Today, armed with a BSc in International Hospitality Management, she now works for a global commercial real estate company. As an analyst dealing with lease valuation and asset management, she is now part of the movement behind the scenes at iconic hotels that she has always admired.
Below, we chat with Yoong to learn more about his time at EHL, his transition from business management to international hotel management and his future plans.
What made you move from business administration to international hotel management?
Before studying business administration, I was already interested in the hotel industry. At that time, I chose to study Business Administration for practical reasons. But then I realized that I was just going through the movements to get a degree.
Rather than being educated in a field that was close to my heart. So after a year, I took a leap of faith to invest in my studies and left for Switzerland.
Why did you choose to pursue a BSc in International Hospitality Management at EHL?
EHL is renowned for being the first hotel management school in the world. I wanted fully immerse myself in an environment focused on hospitality. Indeed, whether in class or through extracurricular activities, I have always been able to stay in touch with the hospitality industry and I have already had the opportunity to meet and interact with professionals from the industry throughout my studies.
Tell us about your career path since graduation. What is your role as an analyst?
As an analyst, I am involved in various projects. From sales-side hotel transactions to brand operator selections for hotels. As well as strategic advice and asset management, mainly in the region of Central and Eastern Europe and South East.
My job includes underwriting contracts, financial modeling and budget forecasting where I am required to make financial projections. This is based on key indicators such as current and future market conditions, the past performance of the asset, as well as its future potential.
This helps us assess, for example, the price we should target for an investment sale or understand sustainable rent levels for a hotel lease. Besides the nerdy and technical side of my work, I am also involved in exchanges with investors, operators and customers in order to facilitate processes and launch projects.
Are you able to apply the theories you have learned during these experiences in your current position?
The last year of my studies focused on courses that are now directly related to the work I do. For example, real estate financing, hotel asset management and strategic hotel investments.
These courses gave me a better understanding of hotels as a real estate asset class and facilitated my transition from a more operational hotel perspective to a real estate perspective.
What would you like to have learned more during college?
I wish we were more exposed to data manipulation. Being data-driven is so important these days. I am grateful that I was able to acquire skills in data analysis and visualization during my first role at Cushman & Wakefield.
I see how useful these skills have been in my everyday world now. So I think it would have been helpful to dive deeper into this during college. The second thing I wish I had learn more about ESG or sustainability.
It’s a hot topic right now. Especially considering how the pandemic has revealed how crucial it is that we take care of our planet. It would have been great to have had a head start in this area at school.
What advice would you give to international students who are considering enrolling in the same course as you?
Maybe a bit of a clichÃ©, but keep an open mind and explore as many opportunities as you can. I started my EHL experience hoping to get into hotel operations after graduating, but ended up in what seemed like an entirely new field when I first joined hotel real estate. .
Even until I got my internship, I thought about working in hotel brand management. But then I decided to try this new role in a new city and haven’t looked back since.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I don’t have a specific location in mind. Over the past five years, I have had the privilege of living and working in five countries on three continents. Going where my next opportunity takes me is a mindset I intend to keep. I would still like to be in hotel real estate, but maybe focus more on investing and asset management.
What is one thing you missed from home and how did you replace it?
I guess every international student can understand this. The only thing I miss about home is food. Every time I leave the house, I basically pack a suitcase full of groceries to get me on the next trip home – because, well, the priorities!