Humans of Griffith

Made Handijaya

Introducing Made

With no knowledge of food and beverage service, Made (‘ma’they’) Handijaya landed his first job as a waiter at a 5-star hotel in Bali when he was 18.    

His mum told him to ‘dream big’, but at that time, he did not know he would go on to become a Hospitality and Tourism lecturer, a PhD candidate at Griffith University, or work on a research paper to be published in world-renowned journal articles.    

Made constantly draws on inspiration from his father, who says, “success lies not only in what a person can achieve but in what they can do for society.”     

He continues to dream big, with long-term aspirations to establish a foundation to help Balinese children with education while raising environmental conservation awareness.   

Learn more about Made below.


What is the best advice you have ever been given? 

The best advice I received came from my Mum and Dad. My mother always told me to have big dreams. She advised that I would only be able to be enthusiastic about doing daily activities if I had big dreams, but I also need to have small dreams that act as milestones to achieve the bigger dreams. From this message, I have big dreams that always start with fulfilling these milestones. 

My mother is someone who pushed me to study abroad. She always encouraged and always supported me when I was down. In addition, my father always reminded me to stay humble and not arrogant. My father advised that a person’s success lies not only in what they achieve but in what they can do for society. I always apply this message between maintaining my attitude and increasing my knowledge in my life.   


“The most important thing to me is to contribute to the society of Bali and Indonesia through education and environmental preservation.”


Who or what inspired you to become a researcher? 

I am inspired a lot by my father in pursuing my goal of becoming a well-known marketing and tourism researcher. He is an academic Professor at a public university in Bali.   He came from a very poor family in a village in Bali. I admire him as he was able to reach a high academic position despite being the only child in his family to attend school. He pursued his entire higher education on a scholarship.

Apart from making his big family proud, of course, he also makes his village proud.  When I started going to school, I often participated in some of the social research that he completed. He invited me to do some interviews, distribute questionnaires, and analyze data. I enjoyed the moments when we did social research because we not only saw several new phenomena but also used the results to solve social problems that existed in society.  

I learned that to help society, we have to understand first the issues clearly, and it should be done through clear research. My father was also always enthusiastic to invite me to his research activities at that time. When I graduated from high school, he also advised me to take doctoral education so that I could seriously pursue one of my interests in the academic field. 


What are you researching at the moment?  

I am currently researching parasocial interaction (PSI) in the travel vlog ecosystem, including its implications for tourism destination marketing.  

PSI has been used to describe the psychological interaction between viewers and public figures on the radio, movies, and television. I want to use PSI theory to understand the phenomenon of travel vlogging, which is a popular marketing tool to build awareness and associations with tourism experiences. I am interested in travel vloggers (influencers) in crucial positions who have become opinion leaders, and who can strongly influence audiences, especially the younger generation.

Therefore, I adopt the PSI theory to examine and explain the interaction activity performed by actors involved in the travel vlogs ecosystem: the travel vlogger, the vlog viewer, and the destination marketer. I will focus on vlogs related to the popular tourism sector in Bali, where I am originally from, and explore the views of the Australian market, which is considered the largest foreign visitor market to Bali.   


What was your first job and what did it teach you?  

I will never forget my first job, which was as a waiter in a 5-star hotel in Nusa Dua, Bali, when I was 18 years old. At that time, I chose to work part-time to put some money in my pocket.  

I was required to serve the guests, but I remember not having any skills in food and beverage services or any clue about menus, beverage types, and sequence of service. Obviously, things weren’t easy during the first few days. I was made to clean the chiller with a temperature of 1 degree Celsius by the manager if I failed to fulfil some tasks. However, I did not give up. 

That experience taught me a lot about hard work, teamwork, and patience in professional life. Importantly, this experience taught me that we need to persevere and push for things we want in life to survive. The job helped me to pay the rent and have a decent lifestyle. As an educator, that experience also gave me lots of inside knowledge about the tourism sector. 


“I love to talk and communicate with other people from various backgrounds. I don’t mind telling you about Bali or Indonesia, but I’d prefer to hear your stories first. So, let’s connect!”


What are you most passionate about? 

I have three main passions that I discovered long ago and grew when I was on the path as an academic.  

My first passion is teaching because it allows me to continue learning and developing. In the past, I enjoyed teaching because I could recall the material. Nowadays, teaching helps me to keep my knowledge up to date by sharing opinions and ideas with students who are generally younger than me. 

My second passion is mentoring, especially with local entrepreneurs in the handicraft and tourism sectors. Mentoring is an alternative way for me to understand social phenomena in general society. But on the other hand, with mentoring, I could understand the main purpose of respecting the opinions and ideas of others. In other words, mentoring also helps me to control my ego and try not to be arrogant.  

My last passion is networking. For me networking is everything. Not only to discover who can help me but also to discover what and how I can contribute to others. 


Why did you choose to undertake your PhD abroad at Griffith University?  

I chose Griffith University for three main reasons.  

The first reason was the reputation of my supervisor. I have known my two supervisors as top academics in tourism research for a long time. They have often appeared as reviewers and editors in internationally reputed journals. I have also often read their previous works and at that time I wanted to learn from them. 

The second reason was the ranking from Griffith University for studying doctoral tourism with the Griffith Institute for Tourism. According to the 2022 ShanghaiRanking Global Ranking of Academic Subjects, Griffith University’s Hospitality and Tourism Management?program ranks third globally and first in Australia. 

The third reason was the Australian education environment. I think Australia is one of the best countries to study in. I also want to build good relations with academics and the tourism industry in Australia after I graduate.    


I hope that with the network that I am developing today, I could accomplish my dream.


Which research project are you most proud of so far?  

I collaborated with seven researchers around the world and we published an article that discussed the post COVID-19 blueprint for sustainable tourism in small island developing states.  

I am very proud to collaborate with other famous tourism researchers from various countries and regions such as France, Spain, the Caribbean, and Mauritius. The research has been published in a book by Springer, which is one of the top scientific publishers.  During the research process, we often met online regardless of the time difference. We collected the results and provided destination decision-makers with the points of reference to proactively determine what flexible policy moves and measures.  

It has complemented and underpinned any reactive measures taken at regional and national levels the next time the global tourism sector is dealing with an unprecedented systemic shock.   


What is one of the key moments in your career to date? 

One of the best moments of my career was when I started working as a lecturer at a campus in Indonesia in the year 2017. At that time, I began teaching, researching, and providing community service. 

As a lecturer, I also have the opportunity to meet many parties from industry, government, and other organisations. It also allows me to speak in front of hundreds of people. In presenting my research results, I also need to meet with other scholars, be challenged by other academicians, and deliver a speech in front of a crowd.  

Another unique experience was when I had to go to a rural area to help local entrepreneurs develop their businesses.   The stages of my career when I became a lecturer changed my life in a way that is more interesting, colourful, and better overall.   


What is your favourite class to teach and why?  

I have been teaching in Bali for five years, online and offline. There are two subjects that I love the most which are Consumer Insight and Business of Tourism. 

My aim is to teach at Griffith as I finished my confirmation milestone in Trimester 2. I would probably teach in the area of marketing, tourism, and hospitality.  

I like to teach Consumer Insights because this subject is particularly useful for students to learn about marketing strategy in their first year. Once the students explore consumer insights, they can create better marketing and promotional strategies. Usually, for the final exam, I invite industry partners to share their real case studies and I ask students to conduct consumer research to help the partners.  

I also like to teach the Business of Tourism as I could help the first-year students with all types of business in tourism sectors. This subject also has an important role to be a strong pillar of tourism studies.   


What has been a key moment in your life as an international student? 

I have gone through two key moments as an international student at Griffith. The first moment was when I passed an important milestone as a Ph.D. student, namely the confirmation seminar. Sometimes the confirmation seminar moment seems normative, but for me, this moment is very crucial. This is because at this moment I must be able to convince the entire panel about my research ideas and topics.  

The confirmation moment is also the key to whether we have carried out the research process well or still need to get improvements. I am grateful that with the support from both supervisors and colleagues in the Department, I was able to pass the moment confirmation of this seminar. 

The second moment that I think is important is when I became a research assistant for my supervisor. This moment provides a lot of benefits such as understanding how the academic process can be run. Being a research assistant also means getting used to a proper research ecosystem and following academic procedures.  

Besides, it becomes more interesting when there is an opportunity to gather, meet, and network not only with other academics but also with practitioners and government parties with an interest in the research process. During this meeting, as a Ph.D. student, I could explain my research project and achieve many positive responses that they also could feel the benefit and significance of my prospective results.   


What are your dreams after finishing your Ph.D.? 

I received sponsorship from the Indonesian government, so I will return to Indonesia as a lecturer after completing my Ph.D. However, I still want to continue communication with my colleagues in Australia, both tourism scholars, and practitioners.  

I believe that there will be many research collaboration opportunities that can be developed between the two countries. I also wish that one day my students in Indonesia can pursue their further education in Australia. 

Furthermore, I also want to contribute to my birthplace, Bali. I have a dream that one day I could be able to establish a foundation that can help children with education and raise environmental conservation awareness. I believe that this dream can collaborate with similar organisations in Australia.  

Australia is a country that has a strong and long-term vision of preserving the environment and building pillars for education. I hope that with the network that I am developing today, I could accomplish my dream. The most important thing to me is to contribute to the society of Bali and Indonesia through education and environmental preservation.  

If you’d like to chat further about Tourism and Hospitality research, connect with me via LinkedIn.   


Want to connect and hear more from Made?

Connect via LinkedIn – Made Handijaya Dewantara




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