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Embracing Academia: How an ICMS Alumna became an Associate Professor at American College

Embracing Academia: How an ICMS Alumna became an Associate Professor at American College

November 6, 2023

ICMS alumna Tiffany Shin Legendre (PhD), a tenured associate professor at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Global Hospitality Leadership at the University of Houston, recently spoke of how ICMS was the catalyst for her journey into academia.

Dr Legendre graduated with an ICMS Bachelor of Hospitality Management in 2007. She achieved a PhD in Hospitality and Tourism Management from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 2016, following an MSc from Sejong University (2009).

At the ICMS November 2023 Graduation Ceremony, she paid tribute to how ICMS – both the institutional values and the faculty who supported her as a student – supported her in her journey from hospitality student to Associate Professor. (Pictured above)

Here follows an edited extract of her speech:

Advice to ICMS Graduates

“To the bright-eyed graduates before me: treasure the relationships you’ve nurtured at ICMS.

“Understand that every peer might be a future leader, a mentor, or a collaborator.

“Always remain open to guidance, and know that the ICMS alumni community, myself included, stands ready to support you.

“As you embark on your professional journey, dare to venture outside your comfort zone, and always strive for innovation.

“With an ICMS degree in hand, the world is indeed your oyster. Your passion, combined with the resources and network that ICMS offers, will be the cornerstone of your success.”

Debt of gratitude to ICMS

“While I take pride in my achievements, I owe a profound debt of gratitude to ICMS.

“It was here that my dream of becoming an educator in hospitality management took root.

“ICMS’s comprehensive curriculum, which masterfully melds theoretical knowledge with hands-on experience, was pivotal in honing my analytical and problem-solving capabilities.”

Supported through pivotal ICMS WIL experience

Embedded in each ICMS degree are Work Integrated Learning (WIL) subjects, where students are placed with industry partners to gain valuable real-world experience while still a student.

The WIL team walk alongside students in their journey, from helping with CV skills to ensuring a placement that will put students in the best position to network and make connections in their chosen industry.

“My invaluable stint at the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, facilitated by the ICMS WIL program, was instrumental in shaping my understanding of exceptional service and the intricate dynamics of the foodservice industry.

“Navigating the challenges of the Four Seasons interview process was no small feat, but with the rigorous training and experiences at ICMS, those challenges seemed surmountable.

“ICMS instilled in me the confidence and knowledge to tackle complex industry scenarios head-on.”

Inspired to pursue academia

“While at the Four Seasons, I was introduced to the intricacies of food service operations and management, an experience that was both enlightening and enjoyable. What captivated me further was the profound emphasis the establishment placed on education and training.

“This exposure kindled in me a passion for educating the forthcoming brigade of hospitality professionals.

“Several ICMS faculty members, in their quest for knowledge, pursued PhD programs during my time at ICMS and their journey deeply inspired me.

“As my career unfolded and as I delved deeper into the tourism sector I began to grasp the full expanse of the hospitality industry and my interactions with the research environment left an indelible mark on me.

“The calibre and quality of research undertaken by academics and professionals in the hospitality and tourism sectors was nothing short of awe-inspiring.

“This revelation sparked in me a desire to amalgamate academic pursuits with industry engagement, nurturing the next generation of hospitality aficionados through rigorous research and knowledge dissemination.”

ICMS is The Professional Mentor

Big enough to connect you, small enough to connect with you – this is ICMS’ ethos and is embodied in the mentoring approach towards supporting students from enrolment through to graduation.

Dr Legendre found this to be the case.

“I remain eternally grateful to the mentors and professors at ICMS who believed in my potential. Drs. Jill Macrae and Simon Pawson, luminaries in higher education, were particularly influential.

“They taught me the art of transforming weaknesses into strengths, giving me the courage to chart an ambitious path forward.

“Their unwavering support and encouragement fuelled my aspirations. Their belief in me fortified my resolve to venture into academia.

“This path led me to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, a place teeming with visionary educators and industry stalwarts.

“Today, as a tenured associate professor at one of the world’s leading hospitality programs in Houston, Texas, USA, I am honoured to contribute to the vast repository of hospitality knowledge and to shape the minds that will steer this industry in the future.”

Extending the ICMS alumni network

Between graduating from ICMS in 2007 to the present, Dr Legendre’s journey has spanned three countries, each offering its own set of challenges and rewards.

“Time and again, I have been pleasantly surprised by the pervasive influence of the ICMS network.

“From alumni to former professors, I encountered numerous ICMS connections, all ready to extend a helping hand.

“And now, at the University of Houston, the strength and reach of this network continues to astound me.

“Many of my peers have risen to remarkable heights, and our shared ICMS bond has been invaluable in my endeavours, particularly in research and mentoring future hospitality leaders.”

To connect with Dr Tiffany Legendre, click here.

To find out more about ICMS, click here.

To read more about ICMS alumni, click here.

View Dr Tiffany Legendre’s Graduation Speech, starting at 10 minutes 30 seconds, in the video below.


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