An interview with Jan B. Tibaldi – Finalist for General Manager of the Year 2017
Can you give us a brief insight into your education and career path?
My family’s involvement in the hospitality industry is what initially led me to discover my passion working in hotels. My great Grandfather was a hotelier in his days and his fondness for the industry brushed off on my Grandfather who eventually ran a hotel in Grindelwald, Switzerland. As you can imagine, my Dad looked up to my Grandfather and went on to study at École hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland, which is where he met my Mother. After marrying, my parents travelled the world due to my father’s job assignments. I was born in the US, however, at the tender age of four, we moved back to Europe and I spent most of my education and studies in Zurich, Switzerland.
When I was nine, a close friend and business associate of my father asked me what I wanted to do when I grow up, to which I answered – ‘Hotels’. He replied “If you still want to enter the hospitality industry when you finish your studies, let me know”. I wanted to follow my family tradition and become a fully- fledged fourth generation hotelier. After receiving my commercial diploma in Switzerland, I was keen to learn everything there is to know about food and service. I entered a culinary apprenticeship for three years in the kitchen and another year in fine dining, before my father’s friend invited me to Florida to become his Assistant Director of Food and Beverage and open the luxury 5* Ocean Grand in Palm Beach Florida (now the Four Seasons Palm Beach). I took that opportunity and that is how I started my career and work related adventures. I have been given amazing opportunities to travel the world from Bangkok, to Barbados to India and work with various people and cultures. I have never looked back since.
Can you share with us what you feel has been the most valuable part in your career development to date, that has enabled you to get to where you are today?
Before I even knew what career route I would eventually take, my late Grandmother would spend her time telling me stories. She would teach me polite actions like how to open the door for women, how to sit up straight in a chair whilst eating etc. I became so fascinated by her teachings and from a young age I found myself making an effort to follow some of these principles, which I often gained positive recognition for. She used to tell me to put myself in my guests’ shoes, to better understand their needs. I learnt that by treating people the way I would like to be treated and paying attention to detail, makes a huge difference.
Congratulations on reaching the finalist stage of The Hotelier Awards 2017. How are you planning on leveraging this opportunity to inspire the younger generation to work harder at developing their career in the hospitality scene?
I cherish the learning and inspiration I gained from my first role in Palm Beach, working with the Managing Director who was also a friend of my father’s. He pushed me very hard to succeed and gave me the opportunity to work in various operational areas. As a finalist of the Hotelier Awards 2017, I hope to also inspire the younger generation to develop their careers. Traveling the world, learning languages and interacting with people of all walks of life in various environments is so gratifying. Every day brings different challenges and learning opportunities, it never gets dull and hospitality is a lasting and constantly evolving craft.