Sjefke Jansen: A Passion for Service
Published: March 20, 2014 (Issue # 1802)
Speaking about his first impressions of Russia, Sjefke Jansen, the newly-appointed General Manager of Grand Hotel Europe, immediately mentions the cold and confesses that he remained indoors whenever temperatures dropped below minus 10 degrees Celsius. This is understandable considering that Jansen has just arrived from Mauritius, where he spent the last eight years.
Jansen currently calls the hotel home but looks forward to relocating once his family arrives. He chuckled when imagining his three cats wandering through the hotel, but turned serious when saying that children need an ordinary life away from the hotel. A native of Germany, he plans on trying to attract more German guests while maintaining the special hotel spirit that the Grand Hotel Europe is famous for. Jansen sat down with The St. Petersburg Times in the hotel’s Mezzanine Cafe and discussed all this and more as the sun made an early, and welcome, appearance.
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Q: Like many General Managers you built your career from the ground up, starting as a trainee cook and then gradually working your way to the top. Is this a good way to build a career in the hospitality sector?
A: There are other options. You can either start at a hotel management school, preferably in Switzerland or in the U.S., or you take a practical approach by starting as a cook or training in reception. I chose training as a cook, because I liked cooking, and still do. I think it’s good to have a background that is based more in practicalities than study. In this way you have a better feel for what’s going on. You learn how to adapt to certain hotel operational systems.
Q: Why did you decide to go into the hospitality sector in the first place?
A: It was not to become rich, because you won’t become rich in this industry. Having the possibility to combine work with travel to different countries and cultures is amazing, and was always a driving factor for me. I have worked in so many different countries, including South Africa, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, the Maldives, Mauritius and Singapore.
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