Professor’s Industry Experience Adds Value to Students’ Studies

Apr 18, 2023 | Business, Careers, Education, Hospitality

Teaching at SHTM provides Dr. Crystal Shi with a desirable atmosphere of diversity and international research

This is the third of three blogs about the School of Hotel and Tourism Management (SHTM) of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU). In February, we interviewed an alumnus, and last month, we talked with a current student in the program.

Dr. Crystal Shi is an Assistant Professor in the School of Hotel and Tourism Management at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Dr. Shi spent nearly four years in management roles with Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle, Washington, and Fairmont Peace Hotel in Shanghai, China, before getting her doctorate at Purdue University. Dr. Shi’s management experience and strong connections in the hotel industry have fostered her research interest in organizational behavior and human resource management in the hospitality industry. She is particularly interested in employee well-being and emotions, ethical leadership, and workplace diversity.

Dr. Crystal Shi

Q1: Dr. Shi, what led you to accept a position at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s School of Hotel and Tourism Management?

A: I accepted the position as an Assistant Professor in the School of Hotel and Tourism Management at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University because it is a leading institution in the field and provides a dynamic and stimulating environment for teaching, research, and professional development. By working here, I have the opportunity to share my knowledge and expertise with students and contribute to the advancement of the industry through cutting-edge research. Additionally, the diversity and international perspective of the students at the SHTM make it a challenging, fun, and rewarding place to teach.

Q2: Why would you recommend studying hotel and tourism management at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University? What sets it apart from other similar programs?

Dr. Crystal ShiA: Hong Kong is a significant hub for hospitality and tourism, making it an ideal location for students to gain practical experience in the industry. The city is home to world-class hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions, providing students with opportunities to network and gain real-world experience. Our undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral programs all allow students to focus on their preferred area in hospitality and tourism management. For example, our Master of Science programs offer various schemes, including International Tourism and Convention Management, International Hospitality Management, and International Wine Management. Among these, International Wine Management offers a specialized education with a global perspective for wine enthusiasts, wine practitioners, and hospitality and tourism professionals, equipping them to be leaders in the wine industry.

The program is taught by leading academics in our school and by well-known figures in the wine industry, such as Dr. Jeannie Cho Lee and Dr. Steve Charters. Both of them are Masters of Wine. Another thing that I would like to highlight is that we offer residential study trips to our students. In the past, we have taken our students to visit renowned wine regions (e.g., Burgundy and Napa Valley) to understand the knowledge of wine production and wine business management.

Q3: How do you bring your experience and research to bear on the materials you are teaching?

A: I worked as a restaurant manager in the hotel industry for around four years at the Fairmont Hotels in Seattle and Shanghai. Having held managerial positions in the hotel industry and having accumulated teaching experience in the United States and Hong Kong, I see teaching as a means of valuing students’ diversity and assisting them in forming connections with industry professionals. Connecting textbooks to real-world situations is one of the most challenging aspects of teaching hospitality-related courses. A strong working experience is an essential element of becoming a successful educator in the hospitality and tourism management field.

Having joined the SHTM as an Assistant Professor in 2020, I have continued to build new connections with companies in Hong Kong and mainland China, including Mystic Island Winery, Summergate Fine Wines & Spirits, and Omtis Fine Wines. By inviting industry practitioners to deliver talks in my classes, I am able to offer students potential career opportunities.

Q4: How will this learning impact your students as they pursue careers in the hotel and tourism management profession?

A: I strongly believe that educators should be responsible for the learning and development of their students outside of the classroom, especially in fields that require a lot of practical experience. My role as a program coordinator in the Master of Science in International Wine Management program extends beyond administrative tasks, such as promoting the program and admitting students. In addition, I coordinated and organized the participation of students in various international competitions.

Wine Business Education LogoAs an example, I worked with Wine Business Education and led our students to attend Intercollegiate Wine Business Invitational, a wine label design competition, to compete with students from other top-ranked hospitality programs in 2020 and 2021. Upon successfully completing the degree, I expect that students will be able to develop solutions to constantly evolving situations within the hospitality industry.

Q5: If you had one piece of advice for a student interested in a career related to the wine industry, what would you tell them?

A: Besides taking wine-related courses and business management courses in the class, it is very important for students to take the opportunity to visit the wine regions and speak with winemakers and industry professionals to gain a deeper understanding of wine production, wine culture, and wine appreciation. The combination of seeing, tasting, and learning about wine in its place of origin provides a level of understanding that cannot be achieved simply through reading or classroom learning.

Thank you for your time and insights! 

SHTM CampusLearn more about The Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s School of Hotel and Tourism Management. In 2022, SHTM was rated No. 1 in the world in the “Hospitality and Tourism Management” category according to ShanghaiRanking’s Global Ranking of Academic Subjects. In 2021/2022, they placed No. 1 globally in the “Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services” category in the University Ranking by Academic Performance. It has also ranked No. 1 in the world in the “Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism” subject area by the CWUR Rankings by Subject 2017, and rated No. 2 in the world among university-based programs in the “Hospitality and Leisure Management” subject area in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023. The School represents excellence in the field, amply living up to its motto of “Leading Hospitality and Tourism.” See their full profile here.


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