College News Professional Training

Entrepreneurial hot spot

中文摘要 / Summary in Chinese

A number of former IFT students – either holding bachelor degrees or vocational certificates – are making use of what they learned to set up on their own. They say the skills developed at the Institute are helping them to succeed as young entrepreneurs.

Ms. Christine Souso graduated from IFT in 2009. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Hotel Management. She later completed a certificate in advertising at IFT’s Tourism and Hotel School. Ms. Souso launched her own business – called Moment – in 2016.

“I always had a plan to combine dance and performance in a commercial venture,” she says. “There was no company like that in Macao, so I decided to try.”

Moment is an entertainment and marketing company, explains Ms. Souso. “According to the client’s requests, we tailor performances for them.” The firm also offers brand awareness and promotion services. “We are still developing,” Ms. Souso says.

She appreciates the knowledge she gained at IFT, noting it has been useful in her career as an entrepreneur.

She advises fresh IFT graduates wanting to set up their own business to find some help first. “If you are young, you still need a mentor or some more experienced people to give you advice. Macao is small but you have a lot of opportunities. At the same time, you need to have a network of connections to be successful.”

Young entrepreneurs need to be self-motivated, persistent and work hard in order to achieve their goals, says Ms. Souso. “If you think your idea is good, just go for it.”

Ms. Giselle Lou is also investing is a career in events and public relations, as a freelance ‘emcee’ or master of ceremonies. She graduated from IFT with a Bachelor Degree in Tourism Event Management. She also works as a radio disc jockey and as a voice artist.

Ms. Lou says she developed many skills related to event organisation at IFT, including how to respond to unforeseen circumstances. “I enlarged my social network when I was studying at IFT and it now helps me in my job,” she says.

Working freelance provides “more flexibility” than other types of employment, and offers freedom to select preferred projects, says Ms. Lou. She notes however that one must build a good reputation and become skilled in self-promotion. This can take some time, she says.

Sweet dreams

Café Bonbon owner Ms. Betty Fung is arguably one of the most prolific attendees of student courses at IFT’s Tourism and Hotel School: she has taken at least 17 vocational courses there, according to her own calculations. Most of these were related to food and beverage topics, assisting her in her dream of opening a coffee shop. She took that step in 2016.

Ms. Fung worked for more than 15 years in the aeronautical information services department of Macau International Airport, having been a member of its launch team in 1995. Shortly after joining the airport’s staff, she began attending vocational courses at IFT, while studying part-time at the University of Macau in a programme leading to a bachelor degree in English Communications.

During a trip to Shanghai in the late 1990s, she began mulling the idea of establishing a coffee shop in Macao. “At the time, there were no speciality coffee shops in Macao,” she says. “As time went by, my passion for coffee culture grew stronger.”

Ms. Fung continued to attend vocational food and beverage courses at IFT’s Hotel and Tourism School in order to improve her skills. There she came into contact with French hospitality school Le Cordon Bleu: it and the IFT Tourism and Hotel School have been jointly organising cuisine workshops since 2009.

After attending a Le Cordon Bleu workshop at IFT, Ms. Fung decided to take a course on bread making at Cordon Bleu’s headquarters in Paris. The course was only 4 days, “but it was enough for me to decide that I would need to go back and learn more.”

She quit her job and packed her bags: the year was 2014. “I went to Paris to study for a year in Le Cordon Bleu.”

Ms. Fung returned to Macao in January 2015. After gaining some experience in the food and beverage division of a local hotel, she opened Café Bonbon in 2016.

She remains a regular at IFT’s Tourism and Hotel School. She took a course on floral arrangement and now does the floral decorations for her coffee shop. Next on her list is to join a course on Macanese cuisine.

Ms. Fung says she learned a lot from the vocational courses at IFT. “There were several things I gained from those courses, on top of the course knowledge. I got to know better the food and beverage business and I was able to meet and interact with several guest chefs.” She says the courses “definitely” helped confirm her passion for the coffee shop business.

Would-be entrepreneurs should plan carefully the launch of their businesses, according to Ms. Fung. “If you have a passion, go for it, but get prepared first,” she says. “It seems very easy to open and run a café but there is a lot of preparation that goes into it.”

Local artist Mr. Tang Kuok Hou is another young entrepreneur with ties to IFT. He recently created a company to support his creative endeavours, including organising and promoting art-related activities. He took 2 courses in IFT’s Tourism and Hotel School, respectively on book design and poster design, around 3 years ago.

“I think they were helpful for me to develop my company. I am an artist. They helped me to improve in doing posters and invitation cards” for events, he says. “I can connect the content of those courses easily with my work.”

Mr. Tang has seen some of his work as a book designer win prizes internationally. His company is mostly involved in workshops and exhibitions.

He says what he learned at IFT has been “very useful” for his career. “These kinds of courses can help artists and local students learn more about creative areas and how to translate them into interesting projects,” Mr. Tang says.

President’s Corner

The challenge of uncertainty

A new academic year has just started at IFTM. It however differs in many ways from previous ones. We are all navigating our way through uncertain times. COVID-19 has changed substantially the way we live, and is affecting the way teaching and study is conducted at higher education institutions. Read More