We had the pleasure of connecting with The Hotelier Awards 2016 General Manager of the Year, Torsten Van Dullemen. Since the Grand Awards Ceremony, Torsten has been involved in several opportunities to develop the next generation of hoteliers and has progressed to become the General Manager and Area Vice President Operations (Southern China) at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. During the interview, Torsten shares with us valuable pieces of advice to applicants interested in applying for the upcoming Asia competition. Come along to find out what he has to say!
Winning the award was a recognition for myself and all the people who helped me to get where I am today. For a while I did not know how I won over all the contending General Managers, as all of them who were in the running were strong contenders. Finally, I came to understand that the judges presented me with this recognition award because they were able to see the incredibly committed and well-trained team I led, producing service that was always consistently good. In a way it was my team who helped me over the line.
Lastly, because The Hotelier Awards platform is such a well-organised award, many people knew about it, which made it a very nice way to celebrate and share this victory with my colleagues as well as my supporting family.
Go for it! It is a fantastic experience that is very professionally handled. You learn a lot about yourself in the process and you are given the opportunity to expand your network and meet really interesting people in the industry. Also, don’t be afraid to nominate others who are deserving. It is a great award and it is of growing importance to recognise the diligent hoteliers who are leading the industry. You are up against great talents Asia-wide and it is definitely something that you should expose yourself to.
In terms of advice during the process, I would say: “Be yourself. Be humble. Never think that you are there because of yourself, it is always because of others who helped you get there, who supported you and aided your growth.” Make sure that what you really stand for, believe in and are passionate about really shines through during the interview. It is vital that the judging panel has an opportunity to get to know who you are and what is important to you. It is not so much about your CV, where you’ve been, your title, or who you’ve worked for. It is more about who you are as a person. The only way you can put that forward is to be yourself, be open, and be honest.
Since I have been recognised by the platform, I have been actively involved as part of the judging panel of The Hotelier Awards Rising Star initiative. In my own line of work, I have set up a 9-month mentoring program for colleagues at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental Macau. In the program, we identified managers who would make great mentors, asked them if they were willing to volunteer, then provided them with an extensive training on mentoring. Once the mentors were ready, they would be paired with colleagues who were interested in the program. The program received positive feedback and is now being rolled out throughout the Mandarin Oriental hotel group in the next 18 months.
I have also continued to guide and coach younger managers who are assigned to projects with me – I am always open to help, support and provide essential advice. I try to involve newer managers as much as I can in current initiatives so that they can get their teeth into something else other than the day to day operations. I genuinely believe it is up to the next generation to continue the growth and expansion of the hospitality industry.