Alumni Interview - András Bíró

17 April 2020

MBA alumnus András, now General Manager of the Kempinski Grand Hotel Gelendzhik in Russia, talks to us about his career progression and memories of IMI...

IMI: Hi András - thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with us! You completed an MBA with us here at IMI, how has this benefitted you in your professional career?

AB: It was a very important milestone in my professional career. Studying for my MBA program at IMI gave me the opportunity to learn from the best teachers in the hospitality industry, be a part of a young international hospitality community and develop my professional career worldwide.

Throughout the different classes and study sessions, I significantly improved my strategic thinking skills and ability to think out of the box. During the individual and group assignments, we learned how to be self-disciplined, how to improve our time management skills, presentation and communication skills. All these skills are essentials to become a good leader.

After graduation, my MBA helped me to differentiate myself as an outstanding job candidate, increased my self-confidence to be a successful hotelier and helped me to achieve my professional goal of becoming a General Manager.

IMI: Your career has taken you all around the world - the Maldives, Dubai, Shanghai and Gelendzhik to name a few - which destination holds your most memorable professional experience?

AB: All the above places have their own unique character; therefore, all of them are very special to me. I was very lucky to have the opportunity to live and work in different parts of the world. But if I have to choose the most memorable one in terms of professional experience, then it would be Maldives.

To be in the Maldives was very different from normal hotelier life. I had to develop completely different professional skills in comparison with experience that I gained while working in regular city or resort hotels. There, I had to learn how to live and work in a closed community on a very small island. It required a lot of self-discipline, tolerance and ability to adapt fast. As a team, we had to fully trust and rely on each other and bring forward our professional skills in order to solve daily challenges. This helped me develop a strong sense of team spirit and excellent problem solving skills. If you are a person who likes professional challenges, then this is the right place to work!

IMI: From your experience previous work experience, name one important skill or lesson that you have adopted in your current leadership style at The Kempinski Grand Hotel Gelendzhik?

AB: While working in different destinations, I have learnt that the most important skill that a successful leader needs is to have a clear vision. In Gelendzhik, when we implemented a completely new winter season concept, we faced many challenges because it was something new for the team. Nevertheless, by using the right motivational tools and conducting the necessary training, we managed to turn around the situation and achieved unexpected results.

IMI: Over the course of your career, what are the major changes and developments that you have seen in the industry?

AB: Since I have started my career in the hotel industry, it has been constantly going through major changes and developments. The first significant change was the development of online travel agencies like Booking.com, Expedia.com, Trivage etc with whom the hotels had to learn how to cooperate or compete. In addition, the hotels had to adapt to new customer behaviors and needs.

The second biggest change was digitalization and its impact on the industry. Unfortunately, hospitality was adapting new digital trends on a much slower speed than other industries but still the changes are ongoing and became part of our daily life. The development of different social media channels such as Tripadvisor, Facebook and Instagram have created more transparency, strong competitiveness and helped to improve on the hotels’ service standards. The current presence of key opinion leaders such as social influencers, bloggers and travel blogs have helped customers to make decisions easier in terms of traveling.

Finally, we should not forget about the development of the sharing economy such as Airbnb. It has already impacted on the hotel industry in terms of revenues, prices, and occupancy and it will continue to disrupt our industry. This is definitely something we have to watch closely in the near future.

IMI: Having worked in the industry for many years now, what would your number one piece of advice be for our current hospitality students?

AB: Be passionate about the work you do!

IMI: Can you share your happiest or funniest memory from your time at IMI with us?

AB: I really had a fantastic time at IMI, which was filled with lots of fun and great memories. However, the most memorable one was definitely the International Students Day, which was held in the middle of the year. At this event, all students from different countries had to come up and prepare their own presentation stand, while wearing their traditional clothes and cooking their most famous national food. During this evening, we had an opportunity to taste a lot of delicious food from all around the world, get to know each other better and get a deeper insight into others' cultures and traditions. This was a simply fantastic event, which always ended with a student party where I got to work as a barman. Lots of great memories!

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