This month’s profile features Angelo Vassiliades who graduated from the BSc International Hospitality & Tourism Management, Class of 2005 and is now Campaign Marketing Manager, InterContinental Hotels Group based in Dubai.
What attracted you to choose the University of Surrey and to study your course here?
Firstly, the university’s outstanding reputation, its high global ranking in the field of hospitality and tourism and the quality of education that is delivered. Secondly, because of the fantastic facilities that are available and overall campus environment. Finally, but importantly, the overall university life, from the diversity of cultures, the feeling of community, the vast amount of societies to sign up to just to name a few. All these contributed to a strong sense of belonging.
What were the best things about your course?
The course material was very relevant and current, individuals who greatly impacted the industry were course lecturers, there were opportunities for practical training and the degree covered topics from all sectors of the industry which really made the experience complete.
How did you change as a person during your time as a Surrey student?
I arrived at the university as an 18-year-old and graduated when I was 21. During these three critical years, I truly grew and matured as an individual. I understood that I was creating the building blocks that would shape the rest of my life. I learned to manage my time, to prioritise tasks and balance out my schedule especially during the times I held part-time jobs. I was reassured that the field that I chose to study was the right one as it represented my interests and where I wanted to build my career around.
What do you do now and what do you find most enjoyable about your line of work?
Ever since graduating, I have followed my passion and pursued my goal of excelling in the hospitality and tourism industry, having held positions across various industry sectors. Presently, I am based in Dubai and work for InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) as a Campaign Marketing Manager covering the India, Middle East & Africa geographies. What I find most enjoyable in my current line of work is that I am able to collaborate with other regional or global departments and gain access to valuable business insights. During this process, I learn about overall business performance and consequently come up with creative solutions to deliver against objectives.
How did your time at Surrey influence your career?
My time at Surrey enabled me to lay the foundations for my career. The degree that I attained was able to open the first door into the industry which led to the next door and the next after that. Given its outstanding reputation, the university qualification was highly regarded by employers; there were even instances where employers themselves had also undertaken degrees at Surrey which further added to the university’s influence in my career.
Did you do a professional training placement?
Regrettably I did not take advantage of the professional training placement. If I was giving advice to my younger self, I would emphasise on the importance of this experience in getting a glimpse into the corporate world, having some personal insight and learnings to apply to latter coursework and to establishing an initial network to help with the first stage of the career journey.
How can students hoping to work in your profession make the most of their time at Surrey?
By exercising active listening at lectures and asking questions (no question is a wrong question), engaging in discussion with peers about industry topics, reading, researching and understanding the history, the trends and the future direction of the industry, using all the possible resources that the university makes available (research material, online libraries etc.) and taking up placement opportunities.
What aspects of being connected with the alumni network are most important to you/of most interest to you?
What I find fascinating about the alumni network is its global expanse and reach, covering literally all corners of the world. Equally as fascinating is learning about the various stories, journeys and career paths shared by alumni.
There is a good presence of alumni in the UAE with several gatherings organised over the years. It’s been remarkable to see the support shown amongst the alumni community and the willingness to help each other out.
What is your happiest memory of your time at Surrey?
There are too many great memories to list out but reflecting on my time at Surrey, what makes me happy today is knowing that some of my best friendships that still exist started at the university, and for that, I am forever thankful.