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Intellectual Curiousity and Passion-Driven: Key Features of Future Young Professionals!

Stefan van Tulder is Data Scientist, CEO and founder of Talent Data Lab. Although a young professional, Stefan has numerous achievements in his relatively short career. He holds a double master’s degree in Business and Management and has a background in Quantitative Methods (Statistics; Psychology) and was part of the CEMS global business school alliance. His current project: Career Analytics, is a platform designed to help (tourism & hospitality) students, in their career prediction. This is in the form of an App to test students’ confidence in their study program, and to see if this will boost their confidence in their future career choice.

An alumnus of Google and Universum, he recognised that the average individual has limited control over her/his personal data. Stefan believes firmly in truly empowering (tourism and hospitality) students by giving them full control over their personal data. When approaching the professional world, it is not only the personal CV that is crucial to the job application process, it is also having an awareness of the world around us. The tourism and hospitality industries play a significant role in this development. Despite being severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, they can ‘rise from the ashes’ with the help of creative and innovative thinking. This can be achieved by the blending of technological (hard) and human (soft) skills. We need to start giving students control of their data: teach them how they can build their careers by learning relevant skills needed for their chosen future career.


Emerging Trends in Tourism and Hospitality: the roles of hard and soft skills development

What are your major achievements, and can you tell us about these?

”Big tech has been given far too much control over what we can see and do online. Everyone, including myself has fallen into ‘a rabbit hole’ where you find yourself with recommended content that Is very clickable but completely not for you (usually cat videos). Even though, I am passionate about large (scientific) datasets, my biggest fear is lack of personalization.

In my former jobs, I felt that data was not relating to the average consumer: the people. In fact, it is well known that larger firms, like Facebook have stopped recommending content based on what you really like and put in your profile and exclusively care about what people are most likely to “click”. This content can be fun and engaging but for me “it feels as if I do not have control over my social newsfeed…”. My personal wishes are not being met on the Internet.  Some of the recommendations I’m getting are really bad and potentially ‘hurtful’ to who I want to be. That is why I started Career Analytics. This is a platform where people build a personal platform, so based on ‘real’ information and experiences. We use instruments such as psychology and psychometric testing on who an individual really is and not just what is in your CV. We’re not saying that a CV is not important! Because it actually is! But, more often than not, we find that the Internet is using the CV only to provide recommendations, and this is not always effective. An individual has preferences that go deep into societal and interpersonal needs, we have learned to dampen these in favor of eligibility on a list of skills/requirements.

In a recently conducted study into the current state of HR Tech and talent analytics, Stefan demonstrated that despite the strong results achieved, human capital management itself does not seem to represent a bright future. Over 85% of organizations barely touch individualized data and use it to foster growth in their employees. Fortunately, there are tools available that can address this pressing issue. However, we need to be able to use them more effectively (Tulder, 2021).”


What are some of the challenges that you have encountered in your line of business?

”Like every industry there are challenges involved. Firstly, the fact that there are still many industries that are not seeing the importance of creating data available for all people and all processes. There’s a peculiar system of checks and balances that prevents data from falling into the wrong hands, but I believe that this system has put data exclusively in the hands of the few who are at the highest risk of not caring about individual impact. This is a sad truth I have fallen for in my past career too! As a data scientist, “I feel like data is currently not available to the masses. We always talk about diversity and companies needing to be widespread and highly ‘teams oriented’. However, we see other things happening. We see where data is located and who has access to data in companies. That is virtually, nobody, right?” So, “I feel data is not available to people who could use it the best.”


Secondly, like many of you “I used to be on Facebook, Youtube etc. and their recommendation algorithm has been pushing me into cat videos and a lot of irrelevant junk”. This problem exists when you – as an individual – are unable to be represented properly. You should be able to tell a content feed that you only want to be educated by credible sources rather than have your interactions control your feed. Everyone clicks on something funny, strange, or light sometimes, that does not define an individual. In short, we need to start building applications for individual representation and control rather than the quantity of clicks.


Secondly, I feel there is a missed opportunity in using people’s data in everyday life. So far, I have not seen a good application that addresses this need, and I am referring particularly to Human Resources where they actually hold a lot of this data. In HR an assessment is predominantly used as a cut-off tool for hiring. I think it should be a roadmap and guideline to making someone flourish in your environment. In other words, use data as a qualitative asset to help someone discover and define new opportunities.

Thirdly, data should be transformational and widely available to all. In (hotel) construction, we mostly build huge skyscrapers of highly polluting materials such as concrete. This is well known to be inefficient and polluting to the engineering community, yet we are not addressing the issue of sustainability because we like big hotels. This is also true in urban planning, there are no environmental considerations given to these constructions. In fact, how we build is not data driven. Yet we talk about building ‘smart’ cities. These issues should not be dealt with top-down. On the contrary, they must be done by the younger generation. This is a very important place to start: with students. Vertical buildings seem easier to manage but much more energy is utilized rise high-rises than low-rise buildings, and students need to be given this key information. The future is theirs! We need to help students understand what new trends are emerging globally. Environmental issues are very essential in any future tourism planning.”


What kind of skills do you see emerging in tourism and hospitality?

Soft /Interpersonal skills (blended in engineering): such as leadership, collaboration, analytics, creativity, problem-solving, teamwork. Digital skills: technology; automation; Artificial Intelligence, software design, applications, data management, data science, and embedded workflow. And Green skills: urban planning; building sustainably, smart hotels / more awareness of the environmental impact of tourism, are just some of the emerging skills we see these days. In general, though, despite the explosion of technology in many industries, human capital is increasingly important. Even more so now that we have to address some seriously complex issues such as sustainability and individual representation in services.

Moreover, students need to be curious and have an assertive mindset: they need to ‘…go beyond the books…’, seek for new ideas and use these to explore what is ‘out there in society…’, and find people who are willing to share their knowledge; dare to call up the experts and talk to them/ to learn from them…’. And finally, learn from other media than books! What we now see is some of those people who once used to talk and listen to others, no longer do so…For example, Zuckerberg no longer listens to people: clicks have become more important than preferences. Quantity over quality.

Lastly, these are skills that are not being addressed: storytelling, writing blogs, talking to others, being assertive, and listening to others. Having these skills will build trust / confidence among students that they are in control and can make the best choices!

The current pandemic has taught us many things: we now know that some people don’t mind isolation (during the lockdowns): less crowds, more private space, while others hated it: they crave parties and big social events (example of this is King’s Day 2021). This can provide fresh ideas for tourism students. We now need to reflect on the past two years on what worked and what didn’t work during the pandemic in terms of personal and professional development. Through reflection we can plan for a brighter future where our personal and professional growth can be driven via our personal data to an intuitive career and skill  centred digital product.”


Information about the author: Dr. Rose de Vrieze-McBean; senior researcher and lecturer Breda University of Applied Sciences


Follow the efforts of the Next Tourism Generation via our website, Facebook, Twitter | #NTGskillsalliance or via LinkedIn

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