Ryan Naidu: Making Strong Hospitality Connections
CIA Student Bio
“I chose the CIA because of the new hospitality program. Being the first graduating class is a great opportunity to make a significant contribution to the CIA and be a role model for future hospitality students at the CIA.”
How did you become interested in food and hospitality?
While with another college, I took three management consulting internships, two of which were with Deloitte in the United Arab Emirates. After completing them, I realized my true passion was not just investing and finance, but food and hospitality as well. During my first internship at Deloitte, our clients wanted to develop a park right outside the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi. So, when working on-site at the Emirates Palace Hotel, this gave me a great perspective on the operations of a hotel and generally how a hotel is run, which sparked my interest for hospitality.
It was a great experience to live in Abu Dhabi. I studied at a high school with students from around 80 different nations, so it was a great opportunity to learn how to adapt to a different society and communicate with many people from around the world in a social and professional setting. Interning in Abu Dhabi and Dubai was an amazing opportunity to get work experience internationally at such a young age. It was such a privilege to learn and grow my skills in communication, team bonding, analytical research and development, and building client relationships. Living in Abu Dhabi, I was more centrally located to many countries which gave me a great opportunity to travel. Through my travels I have been so fortunate to try different foods from all over the world, which sparked my love and passion for food.
Why did you choose the CIA?
I chose the CIA because of the new hospitality program. Being the first graduating class is a great opportunity to make a significant contribution to the CIA and be a role model for future hospitality students at the CIA.
How have scholarships and/or grants helped you reach your goal of getting a CIA education?
My grants and awards have helped me to take all of the business courses at the CIA. These business courses are great to understand accounting, finance, and economics from a restaurant and hotel perspective and this has really helped me change my mindset towards the hospitality industry.
What do you like best about the CIA?
My favorite part of the CIA is how willing professors are to help students with their career goals and academic success. They have guided me to many opportunities. Professor Murphy helped introduce me to Alexandra Ceribelli to become an accounting/finance analyst for the Menus of Change kitchen on campus. Dr. Joy Dickerson helped me and a few other students in our class start a club. We founded the Hospitality Management Club, which turned out to be a great success in terms of attracting a big club following and guest speaker events.
Do you belong to any clubs or participate in any activities/sports on campus?
I am one of the founders of the Hospitality Management Club and the previous treasurer. This was a great opportunity to learn more about hospitality outside of class, and to connect with one of our guest speakers, Mark Hoffman. Mr. Hoffman is the executive vice president and chief operating officer of Sunstone Hotel Investors. It gave me a chance to learn about the REIT business and identify my career goals.
What is your favorite dish to make?
My favorite dish to make is a Chipotle Spiced Baked Chicken with Edamame and Mung Bean Pasta. It’s healthy, packed with flavor, and very affordable to make.
How has your CIA education prepared you for the business side of food and hospitality?
I believe that the business courses and the professors who teach them—such as Professor Murphy, Professor Neuneker, and Professor Rabe, for example—have helped me a lot and I have built amazing relationships with them all.
I also believe that the CIA’s amazing network really helped me. During my time here I have reached out to CIA alumni and Board of Trustees members who had careers similar to my interests in accounting, consulting, finance, real estate, and revenue management. Brad Whitmore from the college’s Advancement office has been amazing and is always willing to guide me to the right people. He recommended that I reach out to Steven Rushmore, founder of HVS and a pioneer in hotel consulting and appraisals. So I did and he invited me to lunch at the Harvard Club. This was an incredible experience to speak to Mr. Rushmore about the recent trends in the hotel industry and receive some incredible advice.
What are the best lessons you’ve learned while at the CIA?
A big lesson was from that meeting with Mr. Rushmore. He asked me about my long-term goals, and my response was quite vague. So he responded by telling me that if you don’t have your goals set in place, you won’t know your direction. This advice was very crucial to me because I strongly believe that writing down your plans can provide you with a great sense of direction and help you understand what your end goal is.
What are your career goals and how will your CIA education help you get there?
My career goals are to work for a lodging real estate investment trust (REIT)/real estate investment firm or become an equity research analyst for an investment bank’s real estate, gaming, and lodging (REGAL) group. The business and hospitality courses I took in the hospitality management bachelor’s program will help me get there.
What advice would you give to a new student or someone who is considering attending the CIA?
I would recommend that every student at the CIA read Goals!: How to Get Everything You Want—Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible by Brian Tracy and Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. Mr. Rushmore recommended these books to me because they help you set goals that are achievable and show how to network by building relationships. Both have helped me a lot to understand my long-term goals and how to develop a strong network of relationships.
Ryan Naidu is a CIA student pursuing his bachelor’s degree in hospitality management at the college’s New York campus in Hyde Park. He is from Wyckoff, NJ.