Three former students of The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Discipline of Tourism and Hospitality Management are paving the way for more Pacific Island students to join international organisations and showcase the significance of Pacific hospitality.
The three, Nivkesh Mullick, Romulusi Masi, and Panapasa Buadromo, are living their dream, having joined P&O Cruises Australia, previously known as Peninsula Steam and Oriental Navigation Company, part of Carnival Corporation, a British-American-owned global cruise operator, with local headquarter in Sydney, Australia.
The trio was successfully inducted on board the cruise liner after an extensive selection process that included applicants worldwide, having illustrated significant professional and personal growth by rising through the ranks.
Nivkesh Mullick, originally from Fiji’s Lautoka City, on the western side of Viti Levu, said his USP experience equipped him well for the challenging position he holds in the international cruise industry and encouraged current students to exert effort and make the most of their USP experiences, as these will prove beneficial in meeting the requirements of the global job market.
“I grew up in the Sugar City (Lautoka) and started my journey with USP’s Tourism and Hospitality Management programme in 2014 at the Lautoka Campus before I moved to the Laucala Campus in Suva. I thoroughly enjoyed my study at USP, and at some point towards my final year, I got an opportunity to be an intern at the Sheraton Hotel on Denarau Island in Nadi.”
“Though I always wanted to join the Tourism sector, never once did I ever consider, let alone the thought of working on an international cruise liner. It wasn’t until I attended a Careers Fair, organised by the then School of Tourism and Hospitality Management at the Shangri-La Fijian Resort, where I was allowed to do another internship on a cruise liner, that I realised this is where I see myself in years to come.”
After completing his study with USP in 2017, Nivkesh, with the help of his USP lecturers and mentor Ella Bennion, finalised his paper and started his professional career with P&O Cruises Australia in November of the same year.
Though 29-year-old Nivkesh was excited to start his career on an international cruise liner, he was more ecstatic to meet Panapasa Buadromo, 37, who has been with the company since 2010.
Panapasa, who hails from Bau Island to the East of Viti Levu, the largest Island in Fiji, has and continues to enjoy his career with P&O Cruises Australia, spanning over a decade.
The 37-year-old Bau lad was among the first few Fijians to join the international cruise industry and followed the same pathway Nivkesh did, but years before Nivkesh joined USP.
“Honestly, I never imagined myself doing what I’m doing today, let alone being in a different country altogether. When I started my tourism programme at USP in 2005, I always saw cruise liners docked at the Suva wharf and always admired them.”
After graduating from USP in 2007, he worked for nine months as a customer service agent for Vodafone Fiji before P&O came knocking on his door with an opportunity to join the international cruise liner company.
“Apart from my 9am – 5pm job, I was also doing voluntary work and often in touch with my USP mentors and lecturers. I remember one afternoon when I opened my email, I saw a message from Dr Dawn Gibson (Senior Lecturer in the Discipline of Tourism and Hospitality Management) about an opportunity to join P&O Cruise Australia.”
“It was a no-brainer for me. I immediately replied to express my interest in the opportunity. It wasn’t long after we had finalised my paperwork to join the industry. To this day, I am eternally grateful for the support, knowledge, and assistance rendered to me by my mentors, Ella Bennion and Dr Gibson.”
As the trio reflect on their career in the cruise liner industry, Nivkesh, Panapasa, and Romulusi reiterated the “Significance of Fijian/Pacific hospitality that is known globally. In the global tourism industry, people have heard about this hospitality, and it wasn’t until we worked in this international space that they realised what it meant”.
“For us in Fiji and the Pacific, hospitality is within us. It’s instilled in us from our upbringing and comes naturally to us. Our friendliness and inviting smiles are an asset and are second to none globally”, the trio shared.
Though working in the cruise liner industry would be a dream for many, the three USP graduates strongly emphasised the need to maintain a good work ethic, deliver quality services, have a positive and friendly attitude, and carry out tasks wholeheartedly.
USP’s Acting Head of School for Business and Management, Professor Digby Race, impressed with the achievement of USP students, stressed, “The success of the graduates in this important sector for our Pacific region is evidence of the quality of the teaching and learning programs offered by the Discipline of Tourism and Hospitality Management and the University”.
Sharing a snippet of their work, Panapasa said that on a cruise liner, they often check in thousands of guests before it departs for their voyage, highlighting the importance of hard work in school and in any field of work.
The trio, whose international cruise itineraries cover Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific, and Asia, wishes to encourage USP and Pacific students to go beyond what’s available locally and aim to make an impact and difference in international organisations and spaces.