EP #21 – Rising to the Top of the Hotel Industry with Philippe Leboeuf

Philippe Leboeuf joins Susan Pannozzo on Hospitality Academy to talk about his career path to becoming one of the preeminent hoteliers in the world today.On one of the recent episodes of Hospitality Academy Conor Kenny spoke about his book, Dancing At The Fountain and the seven hoteliers he interviewed and learned from to write it. Today I’m excited and honored to bring you one of those seven: Mr. Philippe Leboeuf.

Philipe is the General Manager of the Mandarin Oriental, Paris, and is the Area Vice-President of Operations. The Mandarin Oriental is the hotel group’s first destination in Paris and Philippe is utilizing his 25 years of senior hotel management experience to position it as one of the preeminent luxury hotels in Paris.

On this episode of Hospitality Academy Philippe shares that 25 year journey, what he’s learned along the way, what he would do differently and what recommendations he has for anyone starting out in the industry today.

Essential Learning Points From This Show:

  • Why he has his office in the lobby of The Mandarin Oriental Paris.
  • What is helicopter management and why does he avoid it?
  • How mentors have helped him be so successful, and why they can do the same for you.
  • Making employment choices with your resume in mind.
  • How much formal education do you need versus real-life experience?
  • And so much more!

Although he is one of the world’s premiere hoteliers today, the start of his journey was much simpler.  His parents owned a sports based pub and coffee shop in Alsace, France where he grew up. Wanting to follow a different career path for himself. he applied to Hotel School. And, at the age of 15 he started his first round of education at a hotel school in Strasbourg. It was a boarding school experience for him and he spent the next 2.5 years there. During that time he held several apprenticeships including his first as a waiter. That’s where his food and beverage career began and he has always remembered the important role education and learning have played in his success.

Throughout the years he has held several management roles and has also returned to further his education several times. From 1995 to 2001, he was Managing Director of the Hotel de Crillon in Paris where he went on to become the Executive Vice President of the Concorde Hotels Group.

In 2004 he assumed the role of Executive Vice President of Louvre Hotels with responsibility for operations, sales, marketing and development. In 2006, he seized the opportunity to move to Dallas and become the Vice President, Operations for Rosewood Hotels & Resorts.

As if those roles weren’t impressive enough on their own he also became a graduate of Cornell University. In addition he earned a degree in finance and strategy from HEC management school in Paris, one of the most prestigious management schools in the world.

Clearly he sees education as playing a pivotal role in his success, something we discuss on today’s episode. He also acknowledges his willingness to move for various roles and to make the personal sacrifices that accompany those moves. Philippe has lived around the world from Europe to the US and he believes without his experience working abroad he wouldn’t be the success he is today.

However he cautions people working in the hotel world today from moving around too often; Philippe says you should measure and weigh your opportunities against how much stability can be seen in your resume.

If you are moving every two years from a new role you eventually will not be seen as someone who can or should be invested in by a new organization. Be sure to stay in some roles for several roles and establish yourself as someone who is a worthwhile addition to a team, and as someone who knows which opportunities will serve you best.

Also on today’s episode Philippe gives some wise advice on those who are new in the field: he recommends listening more! A willingness to listen, to learn and to relocate are all essential to finding the greatest success in the hotel industry.

Philippe and I wrap up the show by talking about how much education is needed versus real-life experience, he breaks it down by position. Whether you want to be a GM one day or a CEO his suggestions on how much education to get will be very helpful as will his explanation of why mentoring has been so critical for him. Listen in for all of that and more on episode 21 of the Hospitality Academy!

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Important Links & Mentions From This Episode:

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