Global startup platforms may have been surprised when an "under-the-radar" startup calledStudent.comraised $60 million USD from a number of high-profile investors earlier this month. Well, we weren’t in the slightest. Student.com is a leading global platform that connects international students with overseas accommodation. But long before the company even acquired its illustrious domain, it was better known to us as Overseas Student Living, a QRC Garager. And heading operations in Hong Kong was none other than Veronica Tam. A bit of re-branding and a hop from QRC to DVR Garage later, she’s now the Operations Manager of a company that globally facilitated $110 million in bookings in 2015. But to us, she’s Veronica – one of the most genuinely kind people we know, and that’s a euphemism. Read on as she shares her personal experience with student accommodation, and what she sees for the industry and company's future.
Can you share a bit about your role at Student.com? In Hong Kong, this overseas private accommodation sector is still quite new. Most of the students and parents are only aware of university housing and homestays, which means they’re really missing out! As Hong Kong’s Operations Manager, I mainly help with the building of brand awareness through introducing our services to educators, education agencies and, of course, students and parents themselves via education fairs. Apart from that, I also help with the smooth running of the office. The role is quite diverse and challenging, one of the reasons why love what I do. How did your own university perspective inform the way you perceive your current position? What I've experienced with university accommodation is actually one of the reasons why I joined this company. Students do need a hand in sorting out accommodations because what they’ve been allocated might not always be what they expect. Mine for example, fell far from my expectations. What are some of your thoughts about higher education? From a macro or micro perspective. Whatever subject you study higher education does not define your future career. It’s the process of learning, which helps you build your foundation and growth in the long run. It’s the interactions with people, juggling between assignments, and leisure that adds to your character and mentality for the future. What do you see for the future of the private student accommodation sector in Hong Kong? As mentioned before, the private student accommodation sector is still relatively new to Hong Kong, but there is definitely demand for it. The number of students hoping to studying abroad is at a healthy rate even though the number of final year high school students in the city is slowing down due to the demographic change. On the other hand, the students and parents have higher standards, and they have more choice when it comes to student accommodation, so it's the right time for the private sector to occupy a bigger share in the market. What does entrepreneurialism mean to you? The ability to spot what’s missing in the current market, bridging that gap, and improving the situation. What are some of your future aspirations? Professional or otherwise. Visit Tibet! And I would love to learn another language, Thai or Italian, or both. What’s something that we don’t know about you already? I love the cold and dislike hot weather. Unless it’s at the beach with an ice cold drink in hand!
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