Since launching our mentorship programme, back in April 2020, The Growth Works has been keen to learn more about the mentors and mentees who make up our network. This profile series offers a glimpse into the minds of industry leaders who are generously sharing their time and expertise with our mentees, as well as shining a spotlight on the upcoming talent within our industry.
Name: Alexander Söderqvist
Why did you get into hospitality?
From a young age, I’ve had the privilege of growing up amongst a multitude of different countries including Singapore, Japan, China, and Sweden. As a result, this has allowed me to develop such a natural ability to connect with people from different cultures and backgrounds so seamlessly. I am actually half Swedish and half Malaysian, a heritage that I truly embrace and one that I am very proud of knowing that this is truly a unique mix. The contrast of these two countries and cultures are what has led me to form such a curiosity to understanding what connects people in the form of hospitality and care.
Fun fact: I guess the fact that I’m a triplet has played a key role in my ability to empathize and genuinely care too!
What are your career highlights?
I’m very proud to have gained management exposure across three different continents in a relatively short time after being recruited by Hyatt during my final bachelor’s year at Les Roches International School of Hotel Management.
After graduating, I began my career as a Management Development Leadership Trainee with Hyatt in Austin (Texas, USA) and then moved to Doha (Qatar) as Assistant Manager in Housekeeping, and then had the amazing opportunity to open the Grand Hyatt in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) as an Assistant Manager in the Front Office team.
Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi is one of the most spectacular hotels I have ever seen, let alone had the opportunity to work in. Those who have had the privilege to work for a hotel opening in the middle east can certainly attest the fact that they’re incredibly tough and the exposure certainly builds character and an unparalleled level of resilience! Despite a fair share of obstacles, the team was absolutely brilliant and remarkable. A highlight was being able to achieve a higher OTA review score every month since opening for the first 18 months against our comp. set, achieving the 3rd highest upsell conversion rate within Hyatt’s in EAME, and the 2nd highest loyalty program enrollment success rate within Hyatt’s in EAME.
Although, my proudest highlight up to date would be joining the magnificent & exciting Nobu Hotel situated in the beating heart of Shoreditch! The hotel itself along with its electrifying team are superb and we’re all itching to show London what we’re capable of as soon as our doors open up again!
What is the project you are most excited about right now?
There are a couple exciting projects that I have been working on with my director (Tariq Naseem, whom I am also so lucky to have as a very strong mentor!). These projects include reconstructing the guest journey in regards to the implementation of precautionary measures put into place due to Covid-19, seeking to establish a contactless check-in experience, and setting up a diversity & inclusion committee within the hotel.
What are you most looking forward to after the pandemic?
I am looking forward to families and friends re-connecting again. We are social beings and it truly does take its toll on all of us to be separated from one another for so long. There’s a global absence of human connection at the moment and virtual meetings cannot fill that void. Care is delivered and reciprocated through various senses, a smile can be felt from across the room and does not provide the same feeling through a screen. I have no doubt in my mind that the world will soon come together again and that’s certainly what I’m looking forward to the most.
Why did you join The Growth Works mentorship programme?
I actually joined with the intention of offering my humble expertise and experience in the form of a mentor to support junior hoteliers during these turbulent times. At the time, there were no candidates that were suitable for me so I accepted James’ invitation to join the community, partake in in-depth discussions on the forum, and join a hotel operations mentee group which has proved to be so beneficial and engaging. I’m grateful for this program that has proved to be such a great source for knowledge and networking by connecting hoteliers at different stages of their career spread out all across the globe.
What are you looking for in a mentor?
Throughout my career, I’ve always placed a great emphasis on the importance of having a mentor. I pay close attention when interviewing for roles to ensure that my manager is a leader that I can learn from and draw inspiration from. As a result, I have been very lucky to have had such inspiring and brilliant mentors.
Generally, I look for leaders who are passionate and are willing to not just hear but actively listen. It is easy for seasoned professionals to believe they have all of the answers although the ones that continue to keep an open mind are the ones you can continue to learn from because they are continuing to expand their own horizons and embrace new trends in this ever-changing industry.
Tell us one thing you’ve learned since you joined the programme / from your mentor
I have had the pleasure of learning from Mirco Iada, who has a wealth of experience from his numerous General Manager roles across the Middle East and Europe. In such an exciting time where the hospitality industry is entering unchartered territory, I have the opportunity to discuss ideas and approaches as well as emerging trends and receive open feedback in such an honest environment. We have discussed a wide range of topics including ‘’Redefining the guest journey during Covid-19’’, ‘’Implementation of stricter hygiene practices in hotels/finding the right balance of hospitality & hygiene’’, & ‘’The impact of Covid-19 in F&B establishments’’.
Would you recommend The Growth Works mentorship programme? Why?
Absolutely! Networking is one of the most important skills to have and there is always so much more to learn from so many intelligent and inspiring individuals around us. The Growth Works acts as a professional platform & forum that links curious and ambitious hoteliers together. James carefully pairs mentors & mentees so you really hit the ground running and become exposed to discussions that are relevant and beneficial for you.
There are exciting and insightful features that are continuously being introduced such as ‘’Thoughts on Thursday’’ which is led by the crème de la crème of the industry discussing current and topical trends.