Mr. Patrick Beck, has been General Manager at Surabaya’s Hotel Ciputra World since July 2019. Over the course of his career, he has worked in his motherland of France, in several parts of Africa, in Mongolia, Egypt, the Philippines, and other parts of Asia.
What do you say when people ask, “Where do you come from?” or “Where is home for you?”
Home is the rest of the world. I am a citizen of the world and I love that I can see the world and get paid through my line of work.
You’ve lived and worked in Indonesia for six years now, mainly in Bali and Jakarta. How would you characterize the city of Surabaya?
It’s a working town, and these are common across the world. Local Surabayans know the city well and are interested in our special food events. The Ciputra brand is well respected here and people are looking forward to the opening of the Ciputra World Mall extension at the end of this year. On the whole, our hotel clients are here for business, and I understand their needs as they are similar across all sectors and across the world.
Being relatively new to Surabaya, what do you and your wife like to do in your time off?
We often work five and a half days a week, so we don’t have a lot of time to get away, but we do love to go out and dine, of course. We have a close group of friends with whom we often meet for lunch or dinner on the weekends, and we enjoy dining at the JW Marriott. I keep active, playing golf at the local courses and going to the gym regularly. We have visited Malang and Mt Bromo of course. I also like to make surprise visits to the hotel, to keep the staff on their toes!
Ciputra World is touted as a place where business and leisure is a lifestyle. How does the hotel reflect this motto?
Our hotel has a high-rise, boutique feels rather than a sprawling resort feel. Our clients want a simple breakfast, tv services, and reliable internet, they want a gym and pool or hot-tub, space to work and hold meetings if necessary, and they want a place to have a quiet drink or a private or business dinner in the evenings. We also offer plenty of in-room services. The location also ensures easy access to many nearby golf courses. Obviously the convenience of being adjacent to the mall is appealing, as people can pick up anything they may need quickly and at the quality. There’s a host of lifestyle options at the Ciputra World Mall such as cinemas and restaurants, and more will be opening soon. We have partnerships with travel agents and tour guides should clients want to explore the surrounding areas of greater Surabaya or Malang.
Apart from your experience working in many countries as a hotel General Manager, what other skills and areas of expertise are you bringing to your role at the Hotel Ciputra World?
I left France at the age of 18 and was in a very special branch of the army, in Africa for several years. I’ve lived through some dangerous and exciting times, both in the army and by virtue of being in certain places at certain times, such as in Egypt during the unrest that led to the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. But hospitality is in my DNA, and I trained as a chef in my younger days.
Nowadays, I’m a hands-on leader, I like to teach by showing, and I like to be out of the office. I am good at troubleshooting, and in the past, I have been told that I am the Bridge Over Troubled Water that Simon and Garfunkel sang about. I am expected to share my knowledge as an expat General Manager, and one thing I do know is the importance of knowing ‘world’ languages such as English. I speak, French, Spanish, and English, and other languages to a certain degree.
Do most of your staff speak English?
Currently, we are working to improve the English skills of the staff who have direct contact with our clients. I have instigated English classes twice a week, and after 3 months staff will take a test to ensure that their English meets our standard. We take trainees from the Ciputra University Service Programme and we expect their English standards to be high also. We will roll out the English class to other staff on time. Some staff will thrive under this opportunity, and these are the staff that we want to keep and continue to train to benefit our clients, our business and their own futures.
Learning is obviously important to you. What are some significant things that you have learned in your time working in diverse parts of the world, and your time here in Indonesia with your wife?
I do like to plan for and invest in my future, it’s just ingrained in me to be like that, but thanks to my wife I can say that right now I almost live one day at a time. I have learned to be grateful and thank God for today, and to make the best out of the day. Personally, professionally and physically I am in a very good place, but I do like to keep my focus on making a positive impact and ensuring success in this place that I am in right now, too. I aim to do a good job here and stay positive, despite maybe not seeing immediate results.
It must be difficult to set goals in the business right now, in the current climate of concern over the spread of disease through travel?
We are all focused on finding solutions in this current situation, despite the fact that everyone in the industry is in the same place and it is impossible to know what will happen next. Our momentum has changed, but we remain positive and realistic.
How do you define your personal goals as a hotel General Manager?
Ultimately it comes down to budget management. There are many parameters to this, such as client satisfaction, finances, staffing, quality control, social media reviews and so on. But when put under the microscope, the budget will tell if the manager is doing his or her job. My professional goals are short-term, and right now I am aiming to do a very good job here, make a positive impact, and bring as much success as I can.
Hotel Ciputra World Surabaya