Alumni Interview Series
Five minutes with: Caspar Schmidt

Area Hotel General Manager, TFE Hotels

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Caspar Schmidt, originally from Denmark, moved to Australia in 1999 to study at BMIHMS. Since graduating, his career has taken him from food and beverage to senior hotel management. He chats to us about his experiences and how his studies at BMIHMS led him to where he is today.

Tell us a bit about your career path since graduating from BMIHMS.

I had a job straight after school running a hatted restaurant in Queensland before going to the US to work for Hilton as a GM trainee.

After finishing my internship in the states with Hilton, I went to New Zealand to help a friend with his restaurant and was then hired as an F&B Manager and Assistant Hotel Manager in NZ for a hotel chain over there.

In 2004, I returned home to Copenhagen and was then approached to open Adina Copenhagen. I opened that as the General Manager in 2005 and was also humbled to be an integral part of the opening of our first hotel Berlin and the rebranding of our sister hotel in Budapest before moving back to Sydney internally within TFE Hotels with my wife Kesia in 2009. (Kesia is also a BMIHMS graduate!)

Since being back in Sydney, I have managed Medina/Adina and Vibe hotels in the City. From 2011 to late 2014, I was an Area Hotel General Manager for TFE hotels, before I returned home for family reasons for 9 months.  I returned to Sydney in May 2015 as the GM for Vibe Hotel Sydney and was promoted again in October 2015 to Area Hotel General Manager for Sydney city at TFE hotels.

What does your current role involve and what does a ‘day in the life’ look like?

I manage 11 fantastic properties in the city and on top of that I have then immense pleasure of managing an amazing amount of highly motivated team members that go above and beyond every single day to ensure our guests get a memorable experience when they stay with us.

My day consists of dealing with guests and teams in the hotels as well as lots of revenue management. We need to remain competitive in the market at all times so we spend time on ensuring the hotels are open for business in all markets, 365 days out. We also GO MAD! We thrive on this saying at TFE. GO MAD stands for ‘Go Make A Difference’. We empower our team members at any level to go above and beyond. They can make a decision that will better the guest experience without having to ask a manager. We have received amazing feedback about this program – not only does it make the guests feel special, it also makes the team members feel they are part of something unique. The team members can also GO MAD! within their hotel teams to better the daily operations. It’s really fantastic to see some of the things that have been developed over the last many months.

What did you like most about studying at BMIHMS?

The lifelong friendships and great overall education.

How did your degree contribute to your current career success?

I have used my studies in many areas of my career, but the financial studies has made a real difference.

What’s next for you in terms of your career?

I am really happy in my current role and I am looking forward to taking this portfolio of hotels to the next level in regards to service but also in regards to creating amazing teams in the hotels and of course results for our owners. We also are going through significant refurbishments with both our Vibe Hotels in Sydney so this is a great challenge for everyone in the hotel teams. We will bring our “ Vibe Next Gen” into the market this year and we cannot wait to showcase this to our guests.

Any advice for students interested in a career in hospitality management?

Be humble and work hard to gain some respect. Remember that the current leaders in the business you are looking to work for come from a different background and upbringing where we had to do the hard yards and long hours. Working long hours is part of hospitality, but if you want a career then that’s part of the game. Ask questions and be curious about all departments in the hotel. Also remember that if you go to work loving what you do, you will never work a day in your life!

How would you describe the hospitality industry in 5 words or less? Adventurous, Motivational, Challenging and Innovative

What words /motto do you live by/ why?

You only have one life. Live it now and embrace what is thrown at you. You will have ups and downs but what defines you as a human being is how you deal with these obstacles in life. Remember: “ A boss who micromanages is like a coach who wants to get in the game. Leaders guide and support…then sit back and cheer from the sidelines.”

What do you do in your spare time/what are your hobbies? 

I love football (soccer) and I am about to start my 6th season with North Sydney United in their division 3 team. It’s amazing for me to think about that I can still catch a 20 year old on the pitch when getting up to full speed. (I will soon be 40 so I am pleased I can still participate at that level)

What’s one interesting/fun fact about you that would surprise people?

I cook all the time. I have a secret passion for cooking and I really relax when I cook. I enjoy making food for my family and friends. When you cook something your four-year-old son eats then it’s a triumph!