For the last interview in our interview series this year, we met up with an exceptional Norwegian student doing a hospitality program at Hotel Institute Montreux. Full of youthful optimism and drive, Drazen talks about the differences between the Swiss and Norwegian hospitality cultures, shares key lessons from his last internship and gushes about his fresh career start at the Kempinski hotel group!
Hi Drazen! Learning first hand about the hospitality culture in Switzerland, how do you think it is different from Norway?
Looking at the hospitality culture, I see some great differences. In Switzerland, for example, they have a 5-star classification system and impeccable 5-star customer service, whereas Norway’s hospitality culture is based more on building authentic connections with the guests, making the staff feel more like their friend than a person providing them with a service.
Also, a little fun fact – addressing the guests by their last name is not usual in Norway, and the guest might get a bit weirded out, but in Switzerland and in the 5-star type of hospitality in general this is a must.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received from your lecturers?
If you know me well, you know that I get easily stressed in school. I’ve been advised by many lecturers that I need to breathe deeply in these situations because at the end of the day it always goes way better than I’d thought.
One simple yet powerful tip career-wise that I received was that if you see an issue, try to first solve it on your own. Working in hospitality, entrepreneurship and creative problem-solving skills are very much a part of the job. By taking ownership and proactively contributing to the team, your colleagues will be quick to notice it.
What was the most valuable lesson you learned in your last internship?
To be honest, I could write a whole book on all the things I’ve learned from the fantastic people at Britannia Hotel in Trondheim. They supported me throughout the whole internship journey helping me to become a more experienced receptionist.
Perhaps the most valuable to me was hearing from someone that I have a unique gift of creating an authentic experience for the guests and that it is something that I should never stop doing. Hearing that made me trust my instincts even more as I believe authenticity is key to success in this industry.
How important are the internships in terms of career, in your opinion?
The internships that we are provided with here at Hotel Institute Montreux are of huge value because the insights you learn there during the period will be useful all throughout your career. Also, meeting and working with inspiring leaders helps you develop as an individual in this industry, which for me is a huge part of the whole internship concept.
During the internship, I got a clear direction in what I want to do next. I found the 5-star service to be my thing, and that is why I want to stay within the hospitality industry, working for renowned properties all around the world. I am lucky enough to start off my career at the prestigious Kempinski hotel group.
What is the most heartwarming thing about studying at HIM?
I have to say, all the moments spent with the people I met throughout my journey at HIM were joyful! I have gained so many new friendships that will last for many more years to come. I truly believe that all the people I have met will succeed with whatever they want to accomplish in their lives.
Also, I have to mention the extraordinary people from the operations and academic teams that have been there for me and supported me with whatever I’ve ever needed help with. All these people hold a special place in my heart.
What would you say to young Norwegians deciding on their future?
Being a Norwegian, I just want to encourage my fellow countrymen to go out of your comfort zone and try something new that you’ve never thought you would be able to do. My message to you – you can achieve whatever you set your mind to!
Thank you, Drazen for sharing your experiences. Best of luck with your career and happy Merry Christmas!