Prabhjot | Tell us about your journey, how did it all start?
Ian | Like many others, I first entered the industry during summer school breaks. My first job was to polish silver in a nearby luxury hotel restaurant and although perhaps not the most flamboyant job in the world I thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere of the restaurant world.
I progressed through the ranks in the F&B department both in Sweden and internationally. At the age of 25 I was F&B manager in a large ski resort with multiple outlets including cafes, restaurants and night clubs, which also meant working 17 hours a day in a high octane environment. It became very obvious that such a lifestyle would not be too sustainable so I decided the best way to continue to elevate my career was to gain a university degree in marketing, finance and human resources management.
After completing my studies at Oxford Brookes University I worked a few years in London as Human Resources Manager and later assistant General Manager in luxury hotels. In 2000 I was offered a job at the Rezidor Hotel Group’s head office in Brussels as Operations Manager for all new hotel developments. It was a job I probably was not entirely ready for but thankfully someone must have seen that I was not a person that would make the same mistake twice so gave me a chance. I worked with some very talented, hard working and experienced people and from them I learned what needed to be done to successfully build a hotel and to make it a commercial success. When I was promoted to Director of Future Openings I was looking after new hotel builds, brand conversions and take overs, which saw me manage 175 projects in 42 countries in seven years. It was an absolutely amazing experience and a dream job but it also meant I was constantly travelling and too often short on time. My life encompassed of airports, taxis, hotel rooms, meeting rooms and again working long after midnight in a hotel room somewhere in the world, instead of being home with my wife and young family.
Therefore in 2007 I returned to day-to-day operations in the capacity of general manager at the Radisson Blu Bosphorus Hotel in Istanbul. The hotel became Radisson hotel of the year in 2008.
In 2010, I transferred to Dubai to open the Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Downtown, which opened in May 2011.
Prabhjot | What do you think it takes to succeed in this industry?
Ian | You need to be hard working and wanting to please guests. It may sound simple but after all it is a people industry where we depend on satisfying guest needs profitably. If you want to give yourself a chance to reach executive levels you must gain a university degree as this industry is no different to any other when it comes to ROI expectations, reporting transparency, responsible business etc.
Prabhjot | What are the attributes you look for while selecting or hiring?
Ian | Attitude, attitude, attitude. Regardless of position or rank, I always look for a person’s attitude to life and work and the reasons for them. If you do not show a hunger to learn, a desire to please guests or not having a financial need to have a job, you are not likely to pass through the initial recruitment phase.
Prabhjot | Tell us a little about your average day.
Ian | Not sure there is an average day but I would have liked if my Investors, fellow employees and guests say that each and every day I lead my team with integrity, manages my business with honesty and never stops trying to improve. Although today’s business environment is certainly much more complex than when I started, the fundamentals still apply. I start each day by checking the breakfast buffet while chatting a little with guests and waiters before reading the previous day’s operational, sales and financial reports. At 8.00 am I run the daily operational brief with my team followed by an hour working through emails.
Each day I try to always walk the hotel corridors, check random guest rooms, and as much of back of house areas as I can. I do those walks so that I can ensure that my hotel is a safe and motivating place to work at, a pleasant venue for guests to stay at and a productive investment for the owners. Also during the day I will participate in various meetings with investors, journalists, staff and of course guests and clients either through external sales calls or just plain one on one meeting in the hotel.
Naturally a large portion of my time will be allocated to various admin tasks such as preparation and analysis of reports, development of contingency plans etc.
Prabhjot | What should someone who wants to work with you do?
Ian | Work hard, be honest, focus on creativity and always remember to enjoy yourself.
Prabhjot | What can we expect from Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Downtown in the coming year?
Ian | We have just opened so the focus is to successfully penetrate the key segments as well as ensuring we deliver the brand promise of 100 percent guests’ satisfaction. There are many fine hotels in the area so we must display our finest Yes I Can! attitude to make a difference. I am very confident in my team and look very much forward to establishing the hotel on the Dubai hotel market.