DIRECTOR OF LEARNING & DEVELOPMENT
Mandarin Oriental, Munich
Jan joined Mandarin Oriental in 2011 and his impressive journey from Night Auditor to Director of Learning and Development at Mandarin Oriental, Munich spanned 11 great years. His passion, diligence and leadership have touched the hearts of many Colleagues and guests along the way.
Thinking back to your time with Mandarin Oriental, what memory makes you smile?
What I see right now when you talk about smiles at Mandarin Oriental, is I see all the smiles of the colleagues after we've been successful as a team. I also spent a lot of time with many, many apprentices over the years. When they finished their three-year program, they were so happy, they were so proud, and that made me proud as well. But also, from a team perspective, I remember the first time in Munich. We were the first and only Forbes Five-Star Hotel in Germany. A lot of smiles there.
You spent over 11 years with the Group. It was an eventful journey from a Night Auditor to Director of Learning and Development. During that time, what was it that made you feel driven, and what motivated you to strive to achieve more?
I think it was really a combined success story over the years. When I started in 2011, of course, Mandarin Oriental was not a new company, but it was still a rather small company. Over the years Mandarin Oriental has grown so much; New properties, new locations, so many innovations and changes over the years, and I really felt like I was part of the company growth. My own growth and success can be very well linked with the company growth, and I think this is really what motivated me because I really saw that were growing together.
Is there a particular person in Mandarin Oriental you would like to thank for their support? If so, what did you learn from that person?
If I must only choose one, I think it would be Andrea from the spa team. Even though Spa is one of the few departments I've never actually worked in at Mandarin Oriental, Andrea impacted me on a lot of different levels. Professionally, but also personally, she helped me with her spirit and all the guidance she provides to colleagues to live a healthier and better life. To be a little more mindful, a little better, to take care of yourself as well. You can only take care of others if you take care of yourself, which not only impacted how I lived, but also how I worked, and how I eventually came to lead. Jacqueline from the learning and development team is someone else I would like to nominate. I spent many years with her working so closely and I'm very thankful that she always supported me. And the third person, I will stop at three, even though I could go on for a little longer, would be Eddie from the L&D team in Hong Kong. We never actually physically worked together in the same location, but he was always there for me. He was more than a colleague; he is a friend. I was always able to count on him, and I still do. I think that's the beauty of Mandarin Oriental. I was in Munich, and Eddie was in Hong Kong, but it felt like we were sitting together in the same office. Andrea, Jacqueline, and Eddie thank you for helping me become the person I am today.
You were a unanimously charismatic and respected leader at Mandarin Oriental, Munich. What are the key characteristics of your leadership style, and could you share with us a valuable lesson that you have distilled from your management experiences?
I think in all my different positions I learned very different aspects of how I wanted to lead. from starting off as a line colleague to having managers, to becoming a supervisor, to becoming a manager and lastly a director, one thing for sure is to always listen. I’m a very good listener. I was not always a good listener; I became a very good listener. I learned to listen and be very aware of what's happening around me. Use all your senses, pick up on how everybody is feeling and what everybody’s individual needs are. Not only as a team and as a company but also the individual colleagues. I think that's something that really became a characteristic of how I lead others.
And the second one is to be flexible, to really go with the flow. To not be convinced that you always have the right answer and that an answer to a solution that worked once will always work, that's just not the case. You really need to be flexible and open to change. You should always innovate and question yourself and your beliefs and what you think is right. Talk to others, you don't have to know all the answers all the time, but you can find them together. These are definitely some of the most significant characteristics of my leadership style.