An individual can still strive to thrive in the tourism industry though he did not have a proper bachelor degree related to tourism and travel as long as he has enough passion and dedication to any job he was doing. Mr. Nguyen Hoang Nam, who currently works as Deputy Manager of Namaste – Head of Services & Entertainment at Phu Quoc Seaworld Namaste, is such a person. Destination Review had the opportunity to talk with him to learn about his interesting journey.
How did you start your journey in the tourism industry?
At the beginning, I was an engineering student for 5 years at PetroVietnam University to become an engineer in the future. However, after graduation, I felt that being an engineer was not right for me. I then decided to have a gap-year to look for what I really like, spending two months driving the motorbike all by myself to travel across the South Central Coast from Phu Yen, Khanh Hoa to Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan. When I stopped at Nha Trang, I took a scuba diving tour as this kind of experience was famous in Nha Trang back then and as I have always liked water and swimming in general. Sinking from the sea surface and watching the swarm of fish swimming among the colorful coral reefs with my own eyes, I suddenly realized that it was exactly what I would love to do every day. After the tour, I contacted the diving center to express my desire to learn and work for them despite the fact that I have no related skill set and knowledge beforehand. At the end, the center agreed to give me a full scuba diving training course for free, provided I work for them for six months without any wages. And in 2016, I became a scuba diving instructor, which was my first job in the tourism industry.
After working as a divemaster, I also tried in other positions in tourism such as being a tour guide, sales employee of a travel company. I also tried opening a diving company and a tour operator specializing in the Chinese tourist market. And now, I am working for Seaworld Namaste as Deputy Manager of Namaste – Head of Service & Entertainment.
What brought you and Seaworld Namaste together?
The opportunity with Seaworld Namaste came when I was not expected. Through a common friend, I had the chance to chat with the current General Manager of Seaworld Namaste and listened to his dream of building a successful business that uses its profit to restore and rebuild the marine ecosystem in Phu Quoc and Vietnam in general, and to provide medical and educational support to all the islands in Vietnam. His desires and dreams inspired me, and I also felt like I have found the right company for my upcoming journey as his goal and ambition somehow resembled my developing path. So I decided to join Seaworld Namaste.
The resemblance in work outlook and life goals was also one of the reasons why I was offered this position at Seaworld Namaste. In addition, the company also consented with my qualified competency framework and with my strong and suitable foundation for its vision.
What are your thoughts about this current job compared to the previous ones? How does your previous experience help you in this?
Currently, I work as the Deputy Manager of Namaste and at the same time the Head of Services & Entertainment on this ship. In general, about 70 percent of my daily tasks are to manage and monitor the whole ship’s operation of more than 40 employees on board, to develop business in both sales and personnel, as well as to plan and implement strategies. There is only 30 percent of my work requiring working directly with customers.
To compare my current position with my previous jobs, the similarity lies in just a little fact that all are in hospitality, which means they all concentrate on interacting with customers, ensuring their experiences and satisfaction at the highest. Everything else is likely to be different as I have not had any chance to be exposed to those fields. Besides expertise, the way the workload is conducted also differs as now I have to take the lead of more than 40 people on the ship to make use of the most out of our capabilities, not just to make use of my capabilities like before.
However, thanks to this little similarity, I can save quite a bit of time cultivating new skills and expertise. For example, the service Seaworld Namaste is offering at the moment is sea-walking, which takes the same core values as scuba diving that I already knew from my previous job as a divemaster. Thanks to this strong-built foundation, I am able to learn new knowledge at a greater pace to adapt to the new job.
In addition, after many years working in the industry, I had a change in my mindset. I realize that I cannot change the impact of external factors, but I can control how I can react to the events or the environment that is affecting me. This way of thinking has become my guideline later on and I am extremely grateful for the old experience that has helped me realize this. Moreover, my foundation was expanded significantly so that now I can take a much greater workload than I could four years ago.
For the turning points in the job, what difficulties did you encounter and how did you overcome them? How do you see yourself at work?
To describe me at work, I will choose the word “dedicated” as I always try to do every work to the best of my ability to get the job done. “Dedicated” is also what both customers and colleagues usually said about me since I started working in my first job in the tourism industry. Before doing anything, I am always mindful that I have to do the best I can. And after I finished any work, I also ask myself “Did I do well or not? If not, what can I do to improve this?” so that I can learn from the mistakes and prepare for the future. This approach helps me to always move forward.
In addition, everyone also addresses me as an “ambitious” person since I always try whatever good means to achieve my life goal, which is to contribute as much as possible to society.
The word “difficulties” does not appear much in my mind because I consider them “challenges”. Thanks to the new mindset I have mentioned, I believe that every challenge contains an opportunity for me to develop. Where there is a challenge, that place is Nam. Therefore, I always take on every challenge because I know these challenges will help bring me out of my comfort zone, helping individuals and organizations grow.
For example, although I now have to take on a lot of work from different fields, I try not to see this in a negative way whenever I am under pressure. Rather, I will think about this time one year later, when I know for sure I would feel more grateful for this opportunity than anything. When facing with a new challenge, I always look for opportunities in it. I always look for the positivity in the negativity and then just focus on that positivity.
After dealing with the challenges, how do you think this job helps you to cultivate your personal development?
I think that everything needs a process and the current work together with the challenges will help me learn my own lessons. Now the board of directors is trying to challenge me by assigning me to many important positions in the company. These new and challenging environments are going to be a training course, or even an MBA couse, for my new skills. With such a supportive workplace, I believe that I will be able to earn more useful information to further expand my foundation to meet more diverse work requirements.
In addition, I have the opportunity to work with those who all are talented people with vision and they will teach me how to run a business, how to manage or motivate others, all of which are essential for my future. In addition, from my superiors, I also learn how to lead an organization to achieve its ultimate goal of serving society.
Can you share three of the things you think are the most important that have made you who you are today?
If I can choose the three things that I am most proud of and consider as crucial elements in my career development, I will first choose “keep moving forward”. I am always moving forward so that who I am today excel who I was yesterday at least by one percent. To do this, I must always look for opportunities to develop myself, push through ups and downs and cultivate myself every day.
The second is “always looking for your own strengths and passions”. I have been following this, I am still following this and even will continue to do so. As long as you keep seeking, you will find a job that suits you, as well as find your meaning and purpose of life one day.
Finally, I will choose the “founder’s mentality”, which means you do not see yourself as a simple employee but as a co-founder to build the company. Regardless of your situation and position, you can change your perspectives from an employee’s to a leader’s in order to act and work at your best, not just to achieve set targets but to seek the most profitable way for the company. This is the way I have always used to approach my work.
Thank you for your interesting sharing with Destination Review!