Thailand. Oman. United Arab Emirates. China. India.
Visiting these international destinations would be a lifetime of travel for most. For Dipra Jha, it was his 2017 itinerary.
To ensure he’s providing his students with the latest business trends in the hospitality industry, Jha traveled 108,000 miles for academic and professional work last year.
“I try to engage myself as much as I can in the industry and then bring that knowledge right back into the classroom,” said Jha, associate professor of practice in the Hospitality, Restaurant and Tourism Management program, part of the Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences.
That (industry engagement) is very important because we do not want our students to be blind-sided going into the world of practice, not knowing some of these very key things that they are going to encounter.
Jha’s experience abroad helps bring this understanding back to his students, but he also takes his students with him to get first-hand exposure. He has led several studies abroad where students gain new perspectives on the hospitality industry that can only happen by seeing it first-hand.
“They need to know how to do the work to be an effective leader,” says Jha. “If they do not know the basics of how the job is done, it becomes a credibility issue. But at the same time, we are preparing them for leadership positions in the industry. Education abroad helps them understand how the new world of hospitality works.”
That new world includes exponential change, paradigm shifts and new technologies that are radically changing the way business is done. Disrupters such as Airbnb and Uber have almost overnight created new dynamics that students need to understand. Jha’s mission as professor is to make sure his students are ready and able to lead—a process he loves to guide through degree completion and beyond.
It’s both a pleasure and honor to affect young lives and play a role in helping students be successful. That’s probably the most joy I have; to see students going from freshmen to graduation and then into the industry where they become my colleagues. I get back much more than I give to them. That is the ultimate reward of being a faculty member and instructor.