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: Martin Kubler
Why did you get into hospitality?
I was close to finishing school at home in Germany and at that time, I didn’t really know what I wanted to study. My dad said: “Why don’t you do an apprenticeship?”. We had some connections that were already working in hotels and I had previously spent the summer working in a hotel in London while I was still at school and I liked it, so I said: “Let me do that”. So I did this for two and a half years and I kind of took it from there. I went to the UK to study hospitality management and I have been in the industry ever since.
What are your career highlights?
There’ve been a few. Perhaps opening Dubai’s first independent European family owned and operated hotel, The Bonnington Jumeirah Lakes Towers, in 2007. Also, being part of the team that created the “McGettigan’s Irish Pub” brand and took it from one location to currently 16 locations worldwide.
What is the project you are most excited about right now?
I have been part of a group of people here that have built the UAE restaurant community. We have connected close to one thousand restaurateurs in the UAE on one platform. That’s quite an exciting project, because it also helps the industry. We have done this now during the lockdown, so hopefully it will now evolve and survive as the things are opening up again. In that sense this project is in its first year and this one is the largest of such communities that we have built, so that is probably the most exciting thing I am involved in at the moment.
What are you most looking forward to after the pandemic?
Obviously to some extent to things going back to normal. Actually, I hope that not everything will totally go back to normal. Personally, what I am looking forward to is that we are relocating. We are leaving Dubai and we are relocating to Sweden. After 16 years in the region here, I am certainly looking forward to something new and a new environment. Obviously, I am looking forward to businesses coming back and also customers coming back to hotels, because the industry really is suffering. That is probably the main thing.
Why did you join The Growth Works mentorship programme?
Because I have long held the belief that mentorship, especially in our industry, is very important. It is important in all industries, but in our industry, because we are such a people industry, I find it particularly important. I think it is very important that over the last 10 years or so, formal qualifications have started to play a bigger role in our industry, universities and these type of courses and that is very important for the image of the industry so we are no longer seen as a sort of “the collection of unskilled people or uneducated people”, which it very much used to be when I started. But obviously, formal education and courses can only go so far and, in our industry, a lot of it is sort of in the day to day, when you are on the floor and that is not something that you can necessarily learn in an academic or course setting. This is also what makes mentoring so important in our industry. For me it is also a way to give back to the industry, I mean, the industry that I spent now most of my life in. I have also benefited from having mentors in the industry over the years, obviously something that I know is very useful, can be very helpful and just allows me to give back a little bit to the industry.
Why do you think it is important to have a mentor?
When you are at work, you can have a mentor at work of course, but very often, you might not want to ask these questions at work. Because then people might say: “How can you ask a question like this?”. It can also provide a third party, independent insight as it were. Plus I know a lot of people who have spent a long time working in the same environment. They might want to make a change into another environment, but they don’t know anything about that environment as such. Speaking to people, who maybe have exposure to that environment, who have an experience of change, can be very helpful.
What are you looking for in a mentee?
Obviously, a certain degree of seriousness and in that sense, professionalism. It’s got to be somebody who knows that their home is in the industry. Also, somebody who has identified a, I am not necessarily going to call it a problem, but who has identified an issue or a challenge. If you are not aware of what you want to do or what you are facing, obviously there is nothing to work with. So that is something that I am looking for, that we can establish a starting point and say, right, we are here now and this is where we want to get to and this is how we get there. That is very important. These are probably the two main things.
Tell us one thing you’ve learned since you joined the programme/from a mentee.
From a mentor I learnt that no matter how difficult or unpleasant a task seems, if you approach it in an organised manner and don’t put it off, you are more likely to finish it successfully than if you don’t. And from a lot of the mentees, I really learnt that if you have enough passion and persistence then you can really, in this industry anyway, you can really achieve many things that maybe at first you looked at and said, “I am never going to make that”. I think that is one of the main takeaways I get from the mentees.