Getting to the Heart of Hospitality

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Narendran Panir Selvam cuts a dashing figure as he stands in front of a class of students at Tropical Breeze, MDIS’ hospitality training centre.


At over 1.7m tall, he is imposing, easily towering over his students. His commanding presence holds his students’ rapt attention as he addresses them in a deep voice. He is teaching his students all there is to know about the OPERA system used by major hotels today.


Narendran majored in Tourism and Hospitality during his undergraduate studies. He chose MDIS to pursue his Bachelor’s in International Tourism and Hospitality Management, awarded by renowned University of Sunderland (UK).


“MDIS’ practicum curriculum stood out amongst all other tourism courses. What really attracted me was the 6-month internship opportunity, which would allow me to gain industry experience and build my network,” he shared.


The institute recently launched two new hospitality facilities – the MDIS Bakery & Culinary Studio, in conjunction with notable partner, City of Glasgow College (UK).  The launch extends the latter’s internationally recognised and practicum based programmes to students and working professionals here who wish to enter, upgrade or progress further in the hospitality industry. The new facilities will soon be engaging over 30 beneficiaries from Beyond Social Services, a local welfare organisation, in pizza baking workshops to extend opportunities to children aged between 7 and 16 as part of its service to the community.


A typical day of work at MDIS sees Narendran preparing materials and readying the training centre for his students. He trains students in front desk operations, housekeeping, bartending and table-setting.


Narendran also has charge of internship placements. When not in training, he spends his time liaising with hotels and other organisations to arrange internship opportunities for his students.


He himself did his 6-month internship during his studies at MDIS with Hyatt Regency in Dubai. He set his goal to intern overseas and his lecturer, Mr Reza Sumali, supported and encouraged his dreams.


His internship was his first overseas experience. A charismatic smile on his face, he fondly shared of his time in Dubai, “I was apprehensive to say the least when I first arrived. Indeed, it was a lifestyle change for me but my great colleagues made it so much easier for me to adapt.”


Narendran was attached to the Rooms Division and gained a wide breadth of experience as he was deployed to front and back office as well as housekeeping. He learnt first-hand how a hotel’s front and back office was run, gained essential knowledge and skills to work the OPERA, Triton and Reserve systems, manage group and airline crew check-ins, handle guest complaints, manage night runs, handle forecasting, promotional activities and more. 


Asked what he had found challenging of his internshiphe replied, “Dealing with the shift work! It was difficult in the beginning but with proper time management and discipline, I managed to adjust my sleeping patterns. It was quite an eye-opener as with every shift, you gain exposure to different experiences.”


“I can confidently say that the six months I spent interning at Hyatt Regency Dubai were the best six months of my life! I am particularly proud to have been recognised by a guest and the hotel for exceptional services rendered and also being a part of the team that achieved the highest check-in score in the Southwest Asia region of Hyatt hotels and set a record of 97% for Hyatt surveys in a month. These achievements proved my capabilities and helped me improve myself further to serve my guests even better.”


He continued, “My time overseas changed my view of work life and also changed me as a person; it made me realise what I wanted for my life and the goals I want to achieve. I would encourage anyone to go abroad to gain experience.”


After graduating from MDIS in 2013, Narendran joined Grand Hyatt Singapore as a Guest Service Agent but his plan and passion was always for teaching.


After three years with Hyatt, Narendran made his move; he applied to MDIS as a trainer.


“I wanted to be able to impart my knowledge and skills to students who are keen to learn about the industry. Being able to make an impact in the lives of younger generations really attracted me to take up a role as a trainer.”


The most satisfying part of Narendran’s job is the relationship he has with his students. He can easily relate to them and they to him, making for a comfortable and enriching relationship. Though he admits it takes patience to deal with students today, who tend to be more streetwise and vocal in their opinions. 


“When I was a student at MDIS I always had a great relationship with my lecturers and trainers. Similarly now that I am working here, I strive to ensure that I always maintain a good relationship with my students. I believe the learning journey and experience we provide is what defines us the most as an educational institute.”


MDIS will be introducing several new skills-based diploma and degree programmes over these next two years, including in new areas such as F&B (Culinary Arts); Healthcare Support; and Leadership and People Management. These programmes will help nurture future-ready graduates who are equipped with the necessary skills and capabilities to meet industry demands.