Faculty Profile – Professor in Hospitality Business Management

“Hospitality should be called the happiness industry,” said Chun-Chu (Bamboo) Chen, assistant professor of Hospitality Business Management. “Because if you love people and want to provide them with a positive experience, then you are selling happiness.”

Chen joined the Carson College of Business in fall 2018. Before that, he taught hospitality business management for six years at various institutions. A native of Taiwan, Chen worked summers for his uncle’s travel agency while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. “I would plan tours to parks and other excursions for vacationers traveling to Taiwan, and I really enjoyed it,” he said. “It was rewarding because the people were happy, and I was responsible for that happiness.”

After graduating, Chen felt pulled to follow his passion. He moved to Hualien to work full time for his uncle’s agency. “It was a big change from engineering,” he admitted. “But working full time as a tour guide and marketing coordinator for a resort hotel really changed my life.” Wanting to inspire others to explore careers in the hospitality industry by becoming a teacher, he moved to the United States to attend Texas A&M University, and the rest is history.

He helps students grow and reach their potential based on their own unique qualities. “We all have our own strengths, and hospitality is set up for that,” he said. “I have a different background, my own culture, but I’m here adapting in the U.S. while at the same time maintaining my own sort of uniqueness.”

This fall will mark Chen’s third semester teaching at WSU Vancouver. He praises the area as a top competitor in the hospitality industry. “We have more HBM jobs in this area than we have students,” said Chen. “I’ve been contacted by so many employers looking to hire qualified students. Because WSU Vancouver is centrally located, with Portland across the river, there are so many opportunities.”

In August, Jennifer Sandstrom from WSU Pullman will join Chen in Vancouver to grow the program to meet the demands of a booming hospitality industry. For students pursuing HBM careers, Chen said, “Whether you want to travel the world or relocate, every day is different. Every day is exciting.”

Originally published on Carson College of Business newsletter, Cougar Tracks