Sascha Hampe was appointed Chief Operating Officer of the GCH Hotel Group in May 2018. Following a steep ascent up the career ladder, Hampe has become the youngest COO in the history of GCH. In his new role, he is responsible for the strategic orientation and vision of the company. Here he talks about how he became member of the top management team at the GCH Hotel Group and what makes a good manager.
1. Mr Hampe, the hotel industry offers many opportunities and career paths. What were your particular reasons for choosing a career in this industry?
I was very young when I decided to go into the hotel business. I gained my first experience as a child at my grandparents' guest house; it was there that I learnt what it takes to be a good host. I chose this professional path because I wanted to work with people and pursue a career. The hotel industry is still a good example of a sector where anyone can make it from the very bottom to the very top – you can literally go from dishwasher all the way up to hotel manager.
2. In your case, you went “from cook to COO”. Can you tell us about the career path that took you to the top of the hotel industry?
As you rightly pointed out, my career started with a chef training programme. However, I soon felt drawn to management, a field that allowed me to pursue my ambition and passion for working with and for people to the fullest. I started out as a hotel director for the GCH Hotel Group in 2011 and was promoted to Area Director of Operations Berlin in 2015. In early 2018, I became Area Vice President, which was a major and exciting leap up the career ladder for me. Being appointed COO has been a dream come true: I get to apply my experiences and expertise and help continue the successful history of this company while contributing my own personal touches.
3. What personal touches do you plan to contribute? Do you rely on a particular leadership style to work with the younger generation of employees?
There’s been a shift in the area of management, with more and more focus on teamwork. The new generation does not appreciate a hierarchical leadership style; they want to work creatively as part of a team. In my capacity as COO, I want to put even greater emphasis on teamwork and present myself as an approachable team player. If you cannot work well in a team, you have no chance of success in top management. These days the whole ‘First me, then the others’ mentality just doesn’t work anymore.
4. Some managers constantly try to implement changes in their own company, but struggle with their own company culture and slow processes. How easy was it for you to contribute your own ideas and implement changes in the GCH Hotel Group?
GCH gives me the opportunity to practise my own leadership style. One reason for moving to GCH was that it’s a very innovative and modern company that’s expanding rapidly and is always open to new values. GCH has responded quickly to the current pace of life. Through its flat hierarchies it gives managers the opportunity to react quickly and to adapt swiftly to changing market conditions. At GCH I’ve always enjoyed the freedom and trust that I receive from my superiors. Of course, as a manager you have to know your limits, but you’ve also got to have the courage to push ahead with new ideas and shake things up.
5. As COO, you are now responsible for the 3,300 employees of the GCH Hotel Group. Which personal experiences from your previous positions would you like to share with the General Managers?
My maxim as a General Manager was always to create a “home away from home”. Our guests should feel at home with us. Therefore, it’s important to remain close to the customers and to know what they need. After all, the customer is best placed to tell me if I’m running my hotel successfully and fulfilling the needs of my guests. This is the only way to react quickly and adapt to current trends.
Thank you very much for talking to us and all the best for your new position!
Editor: Caroline Wacker