Power to your people - Floris Licht
- 5 min read
Floris Licht, began his hotel career in 2003 after successfully graduating from Hotelschool The Hague. During his time at Hotelschool The Hague Floris already showed great ambition, as he was student assistant for the course TMS and involved in many other extracurricular activities.
Floris has strong analytical skills which he inherited from his dad who is a professor in physics and mathematics. A trait that Floris inherited from his mother is his passion for hospitality, which already emerged at a very young age. During his seventh birthday party he already enjoyed catering and taking care of his guests. When asked what he wanted to become when he was older, he never answered with the standard answers, such as police man or fireman, but instead he said he was already certain that he wanted to become a hotel manager.
Years later, Floris went to Geneva to the Hotel President Wilson for his practical internship of the Hotelschool The Hague. This was one of the best experiences of his life, since he quickly learned how to stand on his own two feet, despite the fact that at times it was very difficult for him to adjust to a different culture, environment and language. Within the hotel, Floris was working in the Lebanese restaurant, where he had to describe Lebanese dishes in French to high-class clients. He mentioned that this was difficult in the beginning but he managed to improve.
His second internship was at the Hilton in Amsterdam, where he was assistant Food and Beverage Manager. After a few months, Floris started to have good working relationship with Roberto Payer, the General Manager of Hilton Amsterdam. Mr Payer saw more potential in Floris and decided to give him the opportunity to join the Hilton Elevator programme. His career made quite a change, as Floris left The Netherlands and moved to London for nine months, followed by Brussels and Frankfurt. According to Floris, in today’s fast paced environment it is important to show a certain level of flexibility and mobility as this can set you apart from the rest. This way of thinking has definitely contributed to his personal success.
Now working as a General Manager at Novotel in Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, Floris has developed his own type of leadership style. According to him, leaders should be entrepreneurs and collaborators; meaning that they should be able to work together with both internal and external stakeholders and not focus too much on titles and egos. Additionally, Floris believes a leader should be an enabler of talent in order to ensure your team can perform and excel. A good example to showcase this leadership style is when a management intern at his hotel received the opportunity to set up a brand new escape room in three of the hotel’s existing boardrooms. Part of being an enabler also is using an out of the box way of selecting new staff members; meaning making sure you have the right people with the right values and attitude working at the property. To kick-start the team and select the right people the hotel used a dedicated application and selection app. In this app the applicants had to create an elevator pitch on why they would fit into this company. Based on this recruitment video, 60 people were invited to a casting day. During this day the applicants were randomly grouped. In these groups the participants were asked to follow many activities such as a role-playing and group assignments. Out of these 60 people 15 people were hired, the majority of which currently still work at the hotel. This is one of the reasons that Novotel Amsterdam Schiphol Airport won the Dutch Hotel Awards and is such a fascinating and successful hotel.
Floris mentioned that the right people will always help you to build a community and this is what he wants to establish. Not only a community inside the hotel but also a community outside the hotel meaning a community for the employees of the other companies in the area. In order to drive this community feeling the team decided to organize a monthly BBQ, where everyone in the area is invited. Floris mentioned that he feels the hotel won the award because it’s a hotel with a highly empowered team. The organisation is very flat with a strong focus on open, honest and direct communication and it was Floris who started this philosophy. This philosophy comes from his experience from working in different hotels under different GMs. He considers himself a ‘cocktail of different experiences’ which he now brings into the Novotel Schiphol Amsterdam. In addition, Floris mentioned that, thanks to the owners, he is able to grow and undertake new things whereby there still is enough time for a well-balanced private life. They provide him with lots of responsibility and recognize that his happiness is of great importance to the company. As part of this philosophy Floris started to do an Executive MBA at Nyenrode for which he receives the full support of his owners. His future outlook is also very determined; he states that he loves hotels a lot but that he does not have the ambition to leave the operation and go for a VP or corporate role within the company. Floris says he gets the most joy out of creating awesome places and loves interacting with guests and staff!