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Getting more done with the right tone: Thijs Pars is intern for HMS-Host in Vietnam | 05 december 2017

HMSM student Thijs Pars currently spends his fourth year management internship at HMS Host Asia Pacific. His residence is in Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam. His function is Food & Beverage Cost Control Operations. Read more about the internship of this global citizen and the importance of cultural sensitivity in Asia.

What is your internship about?

“HMS-Host owns restaurants at airports, but also franchises existing brands such as Burger King. Besides that we manage f&b concepts in shopping malls in China. I do a number of cost-control and finance tasks. This means for instance that I design all back-of-house systems for the stores, such as ordering and tracking, but I also analyse the store’s turnover. Besides that, troubleshooting is a substantial task. If there are bugs in one of the systems, I jump on a plane to solve problems on the spot. An example? This week I am heading for Beijing. China is the only country where everything is still translated into Chinese. This results in many errors that impact our control systems. And on top of that, recipes are sometimes changed without notice. Say the carrots in a noodle soup are changed to mushrooms, but this is not communicated. This means that our control falters.”

Seems like a complex job for an intern?

“Sure, but challenging as well! I get a really good idea of back-of-house cost control and I learn to cooperate with people from different cultures. I get a lot of support from my colleagues around here. We are taught a mindset of keeping calm and staying positive and solution-focused. Here at the office we are allowed to vent our frustration, but that really does not work in Asia. If you are friendly and respectful you get people to cooperate, but it only takes one angry mail to stop communication entirely. I also see major differences between Asian countries. In Indonesia people tend to listen and follow what we ask them. But in China, there is more counter-reply and resistance.”

How is life in Vietnam?

“During my practical internship in Thailand I was surrounded by Thai colleagues, but here I work and live in a Dutch environment. There are positives of course: we literally and figuratively speak the same language. But I do sometimes have the feeling that I live in an expat bubble and am less integrated in Vietnamese society. In the weekend we go out and of course I eat out every day.”

 What will you do after your internship?

“If HMS Host offers me a job I will stay. But I do not exclude a career in hotel management, something related to Rooms Division. In any case I would like to stay on in Asia for the time being. I have really grown fond of this continent. I feel happy and free, there are fewer rules and people live more day by day. And I really have the feeling of being part of a dynamic and growing economy where the opportunities are omnipresent. No, if up to me, I won’t be back in the Netherlands for a while. “

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