The power of networking and cultural intelligence
Bambi Dang, a Haaga-Helia alumna, is an entrepreneur who is quickly rising to the top of her profession. She has done it by networking with everyone she has met since moving to Finland, including the top minds in the hospitality industry.
This approach has given her the necessary skills to successfully reach her goals in the field of hospitality management. Let us tell you more about her story, and buckle up since it is quite a journey!
In 2015 Bambi received some exciting news: she had been accepted to Haaga-Helia’s Degree Programme in Hospitality, Tourism and Experience Management. After moving to Finland from Vietnam and studying International Business for a year and a half, she had finally reached her goal of studying hospitality – a field she had felt attracted to for years already. While still continuing her studies in international Business at Haaga-Helia’s Pasila campus, she started, with what would become, a passionate journey in hospitality studies at the Haaga campus.
— It felt like a dream come true! I knew Haaga-Helia had a good reputation as a hospitality management school, and I truly felt proud when getting accepted to study there”, she exclaims as she looks back on her memories from 2015.
For Bambi, a new, multicultural environment had opened and she enjoyed it:
— I feel like these kinds of international environments help me thrive, and this experience of studying at Haaga-Helia definitely opened me up to many new experiences, people and cultures and helped me develop my cultural intelligence, which is an important asset, especially in this field, she states.
Networking. That is a word that pops up a lot when chatting with Bambi about her studies and current career. Turns out she is an expert at it: she founded her current company, Finest Future (a company that helps cities and areas in attracting international talents, startups, knowledge and expertise) in cooperation with Peter Vesterbacka, the genius mind behind Angry Birds, Slush, and many other success stories.
— It is a pretty funny and random story how we met: I spotted him at a café, and spontaneously went up to him to pitch my then startup idea. Well, that idea didn’t succeed, but that’s how we became co-founders in my current company! Had I not had the courage to present myself in front of people, I wouldn’t be where I am today!, Bambi laughs.
Besides her built-in courage in approaching people, Bambi’s road to success was strongly supported by the various networking opportunities she experienced during her studies:
— Haaga-Helia offers a great environment for students to build networks, both in school as well as with different companies in the field” she points out. “Also, the international students are provided with a lot of possibilities and ways to network together and among other students: the Haaga-Helia International Degree Students association would organize all kinds of free time activities for students, she adds.
Bambi mentions the different projects she got to take part in during her studies as something that fueled her networking. These projects would be done in cooperation with leading companies in the hospitality and tourism field. Students would get the opportunity to take charge and develop their professional skills.
— I had gained quite a lot of theoretical knowledge in my previous studies, but now I could really attain some practical skills: professionalism, leadership, analytical and teamwork skills.
This also applies to the internship she did during her studies at the front desk of a hotel near the Helsinki-Vantaa airport, and also a few years working in an event management company:
— I really got some hands-on experience of all the operations, learned how to act under pressure and could further develop my skills, she says.
What also helped Bambi in building an extensive network was her openness, curiosity and social assertiveness:
— Sometimes Finnish people can be quite reserved, but once they notice that my active approaches have good intentions, they warm up. I like to call people as my friends quite easily, and that is something I have brought with me here to Finland, says the master of networking laughingly.
While currently rocketing through the heights of her international career, Bambi can still easily recall her humble beginnings in Haaga-Helia. When asked what kind of advice she would give for future applicants, she states:
— Teamwork skills are very important, as well as problem-solving and leadership skills – these are all needed in the entrance examination as well as throughout the studies.
When discussing the importance of the hospitality and tourism field, she made the following comment:
— The service industry is growing, and while there is a huge demand for employees in this sector, also new innovations for services and leisure activities are needed. The best part about working in the hospitality industry is the wide variety of different cultures, people and possibilities.