Because tourism in Cambodia was developing and there was a pressing need of human resources in that area, Ieng Sophal decided to choose tourism as his major at the National University of Management (NUM).
And, at the age of 31, he was able to achieve the goal he had dreamed of when he was in high school: of having his own travel agency or running a tour company.
Ieng Sophal has made his dream come true by becoming an outbound manager at Senses Journeys Travel Cambodia.
“Senses Journeys Travel Cambodia is a company that three of my friends and I co-operated in and created,” he says.
Before becoming a shareholder in this company, Ieng Sophal had gained a lot of experience, and dealt with many challenges, as a student.
While studying, he tried to do as much research as possible and improved himself by putting into practice what he had learned in class. “When I was a fourth-year student at NUM, my friends and I conducted a group trip to provinces in Cambodia such as Siem Reap and Sihanouk,” Ieng Sophal says.
He and his friends planned that exercise as though they were working for a real tour company. They organised the trip and arranged the timing so all the students in their group could join the tour.
As well as that practice, Ieng Sophal had a part-time job after class. He worked as a local guide, taking tourists to places in Phnom Penh such as Wat Phnom, the Royal Palace and the killing fields.
During that time, he also worked as a translator for a non-government organisation.
After graduating from NUM with a bachelor’s degree in 2006, Ieng Sophal went to train with a company in Phnom Penh, then applied to work in a tour company.
I had a dream, and the ability I had gained enouraged me to work hard.
He spent three years working as an inbound tour consultant – a job he found quite challenging. “I needed to do a lot of research about the places tourists visited.”
During those three years, Ieng Sophal accumulated a lot of knowledge about tourism. After that, he and his three friends began working together and founded Senses Journeys Travel.
Ieng Sophal says he felt he had enough experience and ability to run his own business, so he began working to reach another goal.
“I had a dream, and the ability I had gained encouraged me to work hard,’’ he says.
Ieng Sophal says Senses Journeys Travel, which opened for business in August last year, is running well and a branch has been opened in Vietnam.
As the company’s outbound manager, he plays an important role: “I’m the one in charge of all the tourists who travel overseas with the company.”
Having achieved one of his goals, Ieng Sophal is working on another: he wants to set up a tour company on his own.