Interview with Victoria Roos Olsson
- 7 min read
We had the opportunity to interview our alumna Victoria Roos-Olsson and ask her about her Hotelschool The Hague experience and what she is up to nowadays. Is she still in contact with her old classmates? And does she still work in the hospitality industry? Keep reading to find out.
Tell us a little more about your career within the hospitality industry
I grew up in the hotel industry with my parents owning hotels in Sweden and England when I was young. My first summer job was as a room attendant at my family’s hotel in Stockholm, Welcome Hotel. After Hotelschool The Hague, I quickly found my passion; learning and development. My first real job was as an operational trainer for Hilton in Brussels and since then I have become an expert in leadership development. I have trained, developed and coached leaders across the world for the past 20 years. In fact, learning is one of my key interests and I love to learn new things, as well as passing on knowledge to see others grow. Currently I’m writing a book on leadership together with two of my American colleagues from Franklin Covey.
What is the most vivid memory you have of your time at school?
I was one of the first international students in The Hague. As a Swede it was easy to fit in and I enjoyed the Dutch student culture. Well, maybe not so much the introduction programme, ha-ha, it was quite a shock! However, after that things only got better. I loved the variety of subjects and the focus on management and leadership. It was the perfect setting for me to learn. I remember my first year revolving around many social activities, so it was quite a shock when I realised towards the end of the second semester that I had to improve my results. That’s when I really learned the importance of time management. I remember doing a detailed schedule, subject per subject, for three intensive weeks, knowing exactly what I had to score on each exam, and locking myself into my student room 24/7 going all in for the exams. I made it. And afterwards I decided to take my studies more seriously.
Are you still in contact with former students?
Yes! I’m even married to one. Andreas and I met in The Hague and have been traveling the world together, and have two teenage (!) daughters, Isabelle and Filippa. Some of my best friends in life, like Pom and Julie, are from Hotelschool The Hague and even though we live in different countries we’ve managed to keep in touch. With the occasional travels, attended weddings and other important celebrations throughout the years. With today’s technology it’s easier to keep in touch. A little more than a year ago, I created a physical challenge on Facebook for everyone who wanted to join. As a result, several of the girls (ladies now) from my ‘dispuut’ Prima Vera came up to Stockholm for a yoga weekend that I arranged. It was so great to meet up again and share experiences from our lives and careers. That inspired me to finally create Roos&Shine together with my sister, a global community for professional women.
Could you tell us more about Roos&Shine?
I believe the world will be a better place if we create better networks and as a result get more synergies. Roos&Shine is all about community and is really a ‘passion project’ that my sister and I created. As natural connectors, the idea of Roos&Shine sprung from our desire to connect the amazing, inspiring and talented women that surround us, and provide a space for women to connect, learn and grow. Since we launched, we have received excellent feedback and are now starting up clubs all over the world. We have even been approached to manage internal corporate female networks which originally was not part of the idea. You can read more on www.roosandshine.com and of course listen to our podcast Roos&Shine, which I would say is a mix between a ‘chat show’ and a ‘business pod’. With topics such as ‘career & courage’, ‘keep learning’ and ‘give a boost’ we have both female as well as male listeners!
What does a day at work look like for you?
Ha, ha, I really don’t have a ‘typical’ day. During a week in my life I can spend a few days delivering a leadership workshop with an international client, spend hours with the Franklin Covey U.S. project team writing our new leadership book, lunching and having Skype meetings with different clients, meeting with my colleagues from the Swedish Franklin Covey office, coaching a senior leader, and having a lovely afternoon break from my home office when my teenage daughters come home from school. Almost daily, I have a phone meeting with my sister when she is on her way to work at the UN head office in New York in the morning, to work on our passion project Roos&Shine. Once a week we record our podcasts, and as a result of a 100-day new learning challenge I just completed, I also edit the podcasts. So, on a Saturday morning before the family wakes up, you can find me with my headset absorbed in Audicity (a podcast editing programme). One evening per week I coach a running club for teenagers. I am also training to become a yoga teacher and would love to incorporate that into my leadership trainings. So, as you can tell, I have taken to heart the new work-life-blend lifestyle and am really enjoying it.
What is the best part of your job?
I really love most aspects of what I do. I love developing leaders and seeing people grow. It excites me to create connections, to travel and to meet people. I also truly enjoy the combination of extremely extroverted moments and also moments of absolute introversion, reflection and studies.
What does it take to become a successful executive in today’s travel and hospitality sector?
Our industry is all about people. If you want to be a successful executive in today’s travel and hospitality sector you must be an excellent leader. If you do not have the skills to create engagement in your teams you will not succeed. There is a common misunderstanding that you are born a leader (or not), but leadership is made up of skills that you can learn, grow and develop. As the world changes around us we also need to develop our leadership skills. If anyone did revenue management today in exactly the same way they did 20 years ago they’d be the laughing stock. We should have the same approach to leadership. There are certain principles that are basic and constant, but we need to continue to grow and develop as leaders. Especially in our sector as we are ultimately all about people.
What advice would you like to give today’s students?
Find your passion! When I look at the people around me and their different careers I see that the ones that do best and have the best time doing it, are the ones that followed their hearts and focussed on what they felt passionate about. Do that and you are so much more likely to succeed. The advantage with our industry is that there are so many different fields you can be involved in. I realised pretty early that hotel operations was not my main passion, but I have managed to work with all the things I love and yet spend most my time within the hospitality industry.