The BMIHMS Leadership Speaker Series: An Exclusive Interview with Special Guest Philippe Kronberg

Last December, Shangri-La Sydney announced an exciting new appointment to the role of General Manager. Philippe Kronberg comes to the position with over 25 years of experience and a huge amount of knowledge.

Philippe trained in hotel management at the prestigious ‘Les Roches Bluche’ hotel school in Switzerland, and has also acquired an MBA from the Management School at UNSW. Since he began his career in his native France, he’s worked across Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Australia. There’s practically no corner of the globe this savvy international professional hasn’t worked!

Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School is thrilled to have Philippe as the latest speaker in our Leadership Speaker Series.

On the 31st of May, Mr. Kronberg will be speaking to students live and via YouTube streaming. These young, aspiring hotel managers will have the opportunity to learn about his career path, the hotels and roles he’s worked in, as well as the industry more broadly.

It’s an incredible opportunity for our students to get some insight into what a career in hotel management can look like.

From the bottom of our hearts, BMIHMS thanks Philippe Kronberg for participating!

We were lucky enough to catch up with Philippe earlier this week, to get an exclusive interview. Here’s a little taster of what our students can expect on Friday!

 

How did you start your hotel career?

I started my career in hotels when I was 17 years old, with a summer job as a waiter in Cannes in the South of France.

What did you love about it?

At the time it was great being in Cannes; the glamour of the French Riviera and looking after some very nice people; also earning some good pocket money to buy myself a Suzuki ATX, a small motorbike.

Any famous names you want to share?

I met a few famous actors including Jean-Claude Van Damme, who sparked my interest in boxing which has become a true passion.  

Did you always have a clear idea about your career path in hotels?

I got my first job as a waiter to earn some money for the summer, but I wanted to be a fighter pilot after watching Tom Cruise in Top Gun.  After that didn’t work out, I decided to follow my other dream, which was a career in hotels.  

What are some of your passions in life?

I am a very passionate person, very energetic. I love spending time with my family. I am lucky that I do not see my work as a job, rather a joyful part of my life. I am very passionate about taking my family and children to the outback, and into the bush.

 I also love sport, and have just taken part in an amateur boxing competition to keep me fit and to challenge me physically and mentally. Enjoying life every day is my motto.

You have worked in hotels all around the world, what are some of your most interesting places?

I have worked in eight countries and eighteen cities around the world, experienced a vast number of different cultures, and enjoyed different experiences.  Istanbul became one of my favourite cities in the world after living there.

What challenging experiences have you had?

In 2016, I was the General Manager at Shangri-La Hotel, Istanbul during the bomb attacks in the city, and also during the attempted coup from the army.  We were in crisis mode trying to keep everybody safe, keep the business intact, with my number one priority being looking after everybody.  It was a very interesting and challenging time, indeed. 

What skills did you draw on to best handle these challenges?

The ability to keep calm and to stay focused on the task at hand was crucial in that moment. The most important thing was to keep everyone safe, and look after guests and colleagues. 

What do you think it takes to be an exceptional leader in a hotel?

For me, the most important thing is to be really close to people, to be a people’s person. I think our business – the hospitality industry – is all about people. We can have beautiful hotels and beautiful locations, but what really makes a big difference for our guests is the quality of the people that we have. 

Knowledge of the industry is also very important, which you gain through learning. I completed my Hotel Management in Switzerland when I was pretty young, and then many years later I moved to Australia, and studied an MBA to enhance my learning. You shouldn’t take anything for granted, and you should challenge the status quo to see how we can do things better and improve.

Where did you study in Sydney?

I studied at the University of New South Wales and University of Sydney, through the AGSM, which is a postgraduate MBA. It was great because most of the students were not from the hotel business so I could learn a lot from various industries.

It was an extraordinary school of learning which has helped me a lot in my current job, particularly studying with leaders outside of hotels to draw on their experiences.

What are your big plans for Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney that you can share with us?

Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney is the best hotel in Australia, with a great location and a great team. I mentioned earlier that people really make the difference in what we do in the hotel business and by continuing to nurture and train our colleagues; we can deliver service excellence and bring five-star hospitality to a higher level.

Finally, what advice would you give a young person starting out in their career with the goal of becoming a General Manager?

It may sound a little bit clichéd but it is really important to believe in yourself, and believe in your own values. It is enormously important to know who you are, and to live by your own code of ethics. 

Do not take ‘no’ for an answer. In my career, many people have told me I couldn’t do this, and couldn’t do that.  If I had listened to them, I wouldn’t be in my position today.  Don’t be afraid to take chances. 

In an international environment, keep moving between hotels and countries. Experience is key, as learning from other cultures, so you can draw from these experiences. That will also be very rewarding for yourself as an individual (if you like to travel) and for your career.

The Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School has just launched an exciting new MBA of International Hotel Leadership. If you’re inspired to follow in Philippe’s footsteps, follow this link and find out more!

See here for more information about the Leadership Speaker Series, and here for more information on the other courses available.

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