A group of students in SIT’s Hospitality Business programme learn to make the perfect brew and enjoy a sip of reality.
It’s not every day that your humble project assignment grabs the attention of the senior management from a successful homegrown company. However, at SIT, students are well accustomed to coming up with solutions for real-world problems.
Trained to Expect the Unexpected
Recently, a group of Year 2 students taking the BHB2003 Service Innovation module as part of the Hospitality Business programme were caught off guard by a surprise visitor. Mr Jesher Loi, Director of Branding and Market Development at Ya Kun Kaya Toast, had joined the judging panel during a class presentation. Although, the students were visibly shocked by Mr Loi’s appearance, they recovered quickly and responded with poise and professionalism. Under the guidance of their professors, the students experientially understood that they had to ‘expect the unexpected’.
Hospitality Business students presenting their ideas to Mr Jesher Loi, Director of Branding and Market Development at Ya Kun.
Despite coming from an external standpoint, they made many valid observations. “It was refreshing to meet and work with a team that tried to bring real-life applications to their study and research. I sincerely hope that they had an enriching learning experience,” said Mr Loi.
The Art of Making a Pitch
In fact, the group did so well that they were invited by Mr Loi to present their group project to Ya Kun’s management team. Mr Loi even spent an hour of his personal time to coach the team prior to the meeting. He gave them advice on how to tighten certain aspects of their presentation and shape their recommendations in a manner that would resonate with the management team. This was a valuable applied learning opportunity for the students.
The students didn’t squander the valuable advice from Mr Loi and did well enough to inspire Ya Kun’s management to seriously consider adopting their ideas.
Students getting a valuable opportunity to present their ideas to Ya Kun’s senior management.
From Classroom to Boardroom
During the initial stage of their project, the students identified customer-facing companies that they wanted to study. Then, under the guidance of A/Prof Jawn Lim and A/Prof George Liu, the teams proceeded to analyse the key customer persona’s challenges before creating the customer journey map. Thereafter, the team prepared supporting service blueprints before they iterated how these experiences could be further improved and identified possible innovative solutions.
The next step was to create a video prototype of the new service experiences before the students made their presentation to a panel of judges, which would include an external industry professional. Instead of case studies that might seem alien to the students, the teams were allowed to select 26 companies with a local presence that they were interested in.
Throughout the programme, the students used a customer-centric approach to unearth potential business challenges. With each iterative cycle, the students dug deeper and learnt to discard ideas or solutions that were no longer relevant. This process gave students an authentic experience and ‘dress rehearsal’ of service innovation in the corporate world.
Going Beyond the Limits
As one of the six team members, Kayla Phang Wan Ying, said that a quote that truly resonated with the team’s experience was: “The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible”.
The team is also very grateful for A/Prof Jawn Lim’s guidance.
“This is a very distinctive module compared to others. We were taken through every step to ensure that we stayed on track. We didn’t just memorise facts and focus on passing exams. In this module, we learnt how to see things through the perspectives of consumers, businesses, and innovators,” said Kayla.