Could you tell us a bit more about you and your career background within Kempinski?
In 2008, I joined Kempinski Hotel Suzhou as a member of the pre-opening team. With previous experiences in several different brands, I ended up attaining career development at Kempinski Hotel Suzhou. Starting as a Server in Banquet Service, I was promoted to Supervisor, Assistant Manager, and finally, the Manager of Wang Hu Ge, the most well-known Chinese restaurant in the hotel, in 2014. When the position of Stewarding Manager opened in 2017, I came forward to take the opportunity and requested a transfer to Stewarding. The year I spent working in Stewarding laid a solid foundation for my future management service in Food and Beverage. In 2019, I transferred back to the service department and became Acting Manager in charge of the management of Food and Beverage. Then, in 2020, I was promoted to Food and Beverage Manager, directly reporting to the Director of Food and Beverage.
What is your favourite thing about your job?
I was fortunate enough to witness my own growth, that of my employees, and even that of some guests all these years. I myself became a Manager but started at an entry-level role, renewing my professional knowledge along the way. I also see my colleagues making their footprints of growth step by step, moving forward through their efforts, which makes me very proud. In the end, the best memories come from regular guests, who have kept coming back for several decades. They have made me a part of their lives—from getting married to celebrating the first month of their babies to the graduation of their children. These memories have become a part of my life that I will never forget.
Tell us one hidden treasure in your hotel?
There are some special dishes not included in the menu of Wang Hu Ge, our Chinese restaurant, which have only been partaken by me and some frequent guests. If you are interested and want more details, you are very welcome to visit our Chinese restaurant for the experience. The reason behind this is that the majority of Huaiyang Cuisine is in season but sold at low yields, so it cannot be presented on the regular menus. What we do during special seasons is to contact some frequent guests and have them visit us for tasting. This has become a tradition over time, and now, they would approach me and ask, ‘Is Yan Du Xian coming up soon?’
How has working at Kempinski had an impact on your day-to-day life, either personally or professionally?
Definitely! Working at Kempinski has made me a professional hotelier in my daily life, which means social courtesy, being observative and practicing self-learning. The core value of being People-Oriented by Kempinski has also motivated me to lay my roots here. As a non-native, I have gained my footing in this city, developing my career towards the goal I set and forming my own family with my beautiful wife whom I met at work. All of these achievements, I attribute to Kempinski.
What advice would you give to someone considering joining or someone who has just joined Kempinski?
Kempinski is a place where you can plan for long-term development.
Being straightforward. When you talk to guests, your managers and colleagues with full honesty, you will know if there is a gap between you and them, and from there, you can clarify your goal.
Do not underestimate or overestimate yourself. You will meet a lot of brilliant people here. Instead of having low self-esteem, make them your role models and try to become as excellent as them and even exceed them. In the meantime, remind yourself to be humble. There is much to learn in this industry. If you think you are already senior enough, it is time for you to slow down and take a moment to think about the things you could do better.
Self-motivation and lifelong learning. Training and mentoring only work for people who have self-discipline. So do not count on a nudge from your supervisors or managers. You have to search for useful resources and approaches to improve yourself, so you can adapt to the development system of Kempinski.