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Sjefke Jansen: A Passion for Service

Published: March 20, 2014 (Issue # 1802)



  • Sjefke Jansen, the new general manager of Grand Hotel Europe, hopes to attract more visitors from his native Germany.
    Photo: For SPT

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.

Related: Ilya Shtrom - Building Brand Loyalty

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.

Related: Spartak Sobolev - Raising Risk Awareness

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café — 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.



Friday, Jan. 30



The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous’ in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.



Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website www.philharmonia.spb.ru.



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of ‘Repulsion’ at 7 p.m. and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy ‘The Tenant,’ the cult comedy ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’ and ‘Cul-de-sac’ among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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