Back in 1955, following the Korean War, Jung-Ho Suh’s father launched the Ambassador Hotel Group, which quickly became Korea’s leading hotel enterprise. So when Suh landed at the Hotel College in the late 1970s, his career path was set in stone: He would get his education at the leading hotel school in the United States, return home to join the family business, and, eventually, take it over.
But the rise to the top was more of a steady stair climb than bullet elevator. In fact, his father insisted on “bottom-up” training, so prior to coming stateside Suh worked low-level jobs at Ambassador hotels, then secured jobs as a restaurant assistant, parking manager, and waiter while at UNLV.
“It was my father’s way of teaching management—one had to know the field in order to manage a business properly … and had to experience the practicalities to understand how one’s employees felt,” Suh said.
Since inheriting Ambassador Hotel Group management rights from his late father in 1992, Suh has continued to grow the family business, which now features — in partnership with international hotel chain Accor — nearly 20 properties spread across South Korea. So how much did his alma mater play a role in his success half a world away?
“My academic experience at UNLV had a huge impact on my life,” said Suh, who was named 2010 UNLV Alumnus of the Year. “I was able to experience a variety of cultures, and learn the advanced hotel and restaurant management methods of America. … These experiences at UNLV formed a fundamental foundation for my company management.”