Ulrika Bjorklund, Dean at Hotel Institute Montreux, caught up with 2005 Bachelor of Business Administration graduate Andreas Magnus. Andreas is now the newly appointed General Manager of Kempinski Palace Engelberg, which opened June 25, 2021, and Frutt Mountain Resort (Switzerland). He discusses how the challenges and successes he’s encountered on his career journey have fed his people-centric approach to hospitality.
What is your fondest memory of your time in Montreux and HIM?
Montreux is such a wonderful location for a hospitality school. My fondest memories have to be the fantastic moments shared with fellow students while living in Miramonte. I remember evenings spent on the balcony overlooking the lake or studying before a test... the collection of moments that make up the student experience.
At HIM our focus is the Business of Hospitality, but I am curious, what does hospitality mean to you?
We as a team take great pride in welcoming guests to our hotel, restaurant, and other facilities, and we do so in a humble and caring way that lets the guest feel comfortable and recognized. Arrogance and selective care do not belong in our profession, and I believe that this is something we as hoteliers need to remind ourselves of. I have to say, my time working for Kempinski in Thailand reaffirmed my belief that humility should be a core principle in our personal set of values.
Humility should be a core principle in our personal set of values.
Most graduates move from one company to another during their career, you have worked for Kempinski for over 10 years. What makes Kempinski such a great company to work for?
When you have found a company whose values reflect your own, I feel that a bit of patience and commitment is due. Kempinski has a clear commitment to its people and the development of its talent, and this message has been part of its internal and corporate language since day one. And they actually deliver on opportunities for their internal talents. Opportunity and trust are what I was looking for in an employer, and that’s exactly what you get with Kempinski.
In your career, what has your biggest challenge been?
Definitely my first time as a number 2, when I worked in Djibouti. Going from being a Head of Department to leading the entire operational team in a challenging destination such as Djibouti offered a learning curve I have yet to match in my career. It was then that I truly learned the human aspect that is so crucial to leadership and what it means to be responsible for others, for their success, and for their development as young professionals, but also for their development as people. I would recommend everyone spend time in Africa if they are given the chance, as it is just an amazingly beautiful place to work in and grow.
…and your most rewarding moment?
I just welcomed our first group to the hotel onboarding and orientation training, and this was fantastic. The energy was great and seeing the teams’ commitment gave me such a fantastic feeling of being grateful and confident.
At the same time, I recently said farewell to a team in Thailand. We had gone through hardship and successes together as a tightly-knit team and seeing the hundreds of people at my farewell and being able to share my gratitude with them was great. It’s all about people!
How has your previous experience prepared you for working at the Kempinski Palace Engelberg?
I have had the opportunity and privilege to live and work in many different countries and to learn about many distinct cultures. I believe that creating the right culture within a hotel is key to its success and to reaching your goals as a team. We have an incredible team here in Engelberg, a team that will create remarkable guest experiences. We'll be able to foster a culture where all our team members will feel comfortable giving their best every day.
I believe that creating the right culture within a hotel is key to its success and to reaching your goals as a team.
You mention in your LinkedIn profile “…loves working in an innovative and motivating environment, where the focus of harvesting the best from each member of a group benefits the guests’ final experience and creates new solutions." How will this shine through in your new position?
I feel that a leader's job is to put a great team together, provide direction, and help everyone work towards a common goal or vision that has been set. At Kempinski Palace Engelberg, our vision is to instigate innovation and initiative and to celebrate one another’s achievements. We want the authenticity of the experience we create to be our calling card and we have worked hard together to ensure that this will be felt by our guests.
What can we expect from the beautiful Kempinski Palace Engelberg?
Engelberg is truly a hidden jewel here in the heart of Switzerland. Before other destinations in Switzerland became famous to the continental traveler, this alpine town was a sought-after destination due to its spectacular setting, which is as stunning today as it was 100 years ago.
I believe our guests will feel comfortable in a setting of understated luxury, but with all of the activities offered by the natural surroundings just outside the door. The facilities are carefully designed to fit into the landscape and serve as a fantastic ‘base camp’ for those seeking to take advantage of the activities offered by the beautiful surroundings. But it’s also an oasis of pampering where, should you choose, you’d never have to leave the hotel at all.
Read about another Hotel Institute Montreux graduate who is in the business of caring for people.
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