Hospitality Professional Welcomes Education Career
When Najib Iftikhar, assistant professor, hospitality and business, was traveling with his parents in eighth grade, he turned to his father and said he wanted to work in the hotel business.
“I always knew I wanted to work in hospitality,” says Iftikhar, a graduate of County College of Morris, who began a 25-year career in the hotel business when he was a senior in high school. He worked in operations and sales for Marriott and Hyatt.
“I love talking to people, getting to know them, and bringing one-on-one service to them,” he says. He adds that his wife and children have come to accept that wherever they go, he will be striking up a conversation with someone.
“I love listening to people,” he says. “That’s what hospitality is all about – getting to know people and supplying services to them.”
When he taught his first class, something magical happened. “The very first class that I taught about three years ago, a student gave me a high five and said, ‘This is the best class I’ve ever had.’ That really hit me in the heart and I thanked him.” From that point on, he was hooked on teaching.
“You’re making a difference in someone’s life,” he says. “Nothing is better than that.”
In the hotel industry, every client is different and needs to be approached in an individualized manner. He applies that to his students.
“You have to deal with every student differently,” he says. “I see every student as my client. One could be difficult, one could be easy. You have to adjust yourself to every student and be flexible in the classroom.”
Outside of school, he sits on the Board of Education in his town, a post he was elected to last year. “Education is a concern; it’s a key part of my life because I have kids and I teach. I also want to be involved in the community.”
He adds, “I’ve worked in hospitality for many years. In the short time I’ve been teaching, the amount of satisfaction I get – you can’t put a price on it. I’m glad to be teaching; I truly am.”