Barney 1.jpg
12.12.19 | ICHM Graduate Story

Hospitality Champion

Dux* of 3rd year (January to June 2019) Barney Leung plans a Front Office career in Tokyo ahead of the 2020 Olympics. (*Dux award is a modern title given to the highest-ranking student in academic achievement.) 

Barney Leung’s first encounter with ICHM came about purely by chance, when volunteering at a career fair being hosted by his school in Hong Kong - ESF Island School. 

‘It was my role to meet university delegates at the front entrance and guide them to their respective booths.

‘As fate would have it, the first delegate I met was none other than ICHM’s Director of Marketing, Simon Ruston. As I already had an interest in hospitality at that point, Simon and I immediately struck up a conversation’, he says.

As a result Barney attended Career Week a few months later in July 2015, which sealed his intention to enrol at ICHM as he says he ‘connected with both the people he met and the activities organised’.

He returned to Adelaide and ICHM in July 2016.

Barney says hotel management was an unusual decision for a student from an international school like his in Hong Kong.

‘Many of my peers pursued more orthodox careers, such as medicine, engineering and law. However, I wasn’t interested in these options, or in the idea of taking university classes for three or more years.

‘For me, the practical aspect of hotel management was quite interesting, and I believed at the time (and still do) that alongside my academic studies the opportunity to do placements in properties around the world was too good an opportunity to pass up.

‘On a personal level I find it quite gratifying, rewarding and fulfilling to be able to speak with people from a multitude of backgrounds on a daily basis, and the challenges associated with hotel management (by no means simple) intellectually quite stimulating’, he says.  

Barney’s first work placement was at the Shangri-La in Sydney. 

He says ICHM gave him the opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge while it was still fresh in his mind, which was vital to his personal development.  

‘The reinforcement of the different levels of my abilities also ensured I was well equipped to tackle the more challenging workloads of subsequent school years, and at this time of finishing my studies I am excited and eager to continue my career in hospitality’, he says.

He is in the process of applying for a full-time position at the Hilton Tokyo Narita Airport, aiming to start in Front Office around April 2020.

‘I spent my second and third placements at the property, and thoroughly enjoyed my time there. And I have been studying Japanese as a hobby for five years since high school.’

The position is a demonstration of ICHM’s catchcry Network, network, network! 

‘An ICHM alumni in Tokyo happened to be looking for a student who spoke Japanese to undertake a possible placement at their property, and I jumped at the opportunity in my second year. I will be returning to the same role I occupied during my placement in Front Office, which is working at the bell desk, as concierge and at the front desk. Japanese hospitality is renowned worldwide and I believe that there is no better place to continue my hospitality journey’, says Barney.

He has not ruled out returning to ICHM for the Masters degree at some stage, and his long-term goal is to achieve a position as General Manager. 

‘I can wholeheartedly endorse ICHM to people who have their hearts and minds set on a hospitality career and are looking for an institution to guide them and help them forge lasting relationships that will define them for years to come’, he says. 

Barney’s parents were born in Hong Kong, but immigrated to Canada in the 1980s following a trend among many Hong Kong residents at the time. After a few years (during which they became Canadian citizens) they decided to return to Hong Kong, where Barney was born shortly after. Thus he possesses both Canadian and Hong Kong passports, and considers his nationality as ‘a bit of both countries’.

The Hon David Pisoni MP presented him with the Dux Channe at the Graduation Ceremony on 7 September, along with a prize of $1000 from the Australian Hotels Association.