“Ladies and Gentlemen, Director Diez de la Lastra, honored guests, dear graduates, colleagues, families & friends. Thank you for inviting me to share this very special day with all of you. It is a great pleasure for me to be here.
“We all have dreams; when I was 16 years old my dream was to become an actor, a famous one, of course. Movies, celebrities, show business and recognition.
“I was born in the former GDR, known to most simply as East Germany. During my school time, I had already started earning a little pocket money by performing small roles in different theatre plays, but my real ambition was to be accepted into the Performing Arts Academy in Berlin, where most of the country’s actors had studied. With this in mind I set out for an audition on no less than three occasions, being rejected each time on the grounds of my age, of course, not because of my acting qualities.
“Then, unexpectedly, history was made, and world events took a course that would not only influence, but also shape the rest of my life: The Berlin Wall collapsed. While still coming to terms with it, I was suddenly struck by the wide range of opportunities all these changes provided. I decided that now that I could, I would head to West Germany and try to pursue a career ‘over there’. What is the most similar thing to acting? Where would I have the possibility of being on stage every day? Entertaining people? Having to smile even on a bad day? It was quite clear: in the HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY, indeed.
“And 24 years later I can now proudly say: Hospitality is my passion, Hospitality is my religion, and Hospitality is my life. Being in the midst of all of this is much more fulfilling than making it as an East German actor. I should thank the art academy for sending me home every single time, all those years ago. I hope and I trust one day you will feel the same and know that you have made the right decision.
“Working in our industry means daily emotions, expectations, changes, surprises…no two days are the same. We are serving guests, creating events, cleaning rooms, maintaining our properties at their best, organizing romantic dinner´s for others, working 10-12 hours a day, min 60 hours a week, having to be immaculately dressed, smiling and transmitting happiness at all times … and at this point, I hope you have not started regretting your decision of making it into this business.
“During your time at this prestigious institution of Les Roches Marbella, I am sure you have received the best possible tuition and have been educated in a wide range of subjects such as new strategies, revenue management; human resources approach as well as operational details and have received master classes in service and cuisine. You had the chance to listen to professional teachers, guest speakers, wise and intelligent, inspiring examples of our industry. Please remember that you are a privileged person, not everybody has the possibility to learn, study and get educated in this environment. Please keep this always in your mind.
“Finally, do allow me to give you some modest advice for your future, based on my own experience and failures:
Be a team player: We fill a Team Role which becomes important whenever we are part of a collective. The Team Role is our tendency to behave, contribute and inter-relate in certain ways, and is likely to be shaped more by our personality and learned behavior than by the technical skills and knowledge we possess. The teams that are likely to perform the best are the ones that have the best blend of Team Roles, to play-off and balance against each other, with each of the roles represented.
Select and contract the right people, look after your staff members and colleagues:
Often organizations look for the ‘best person for the job’ no matter what the task is to be undertaken. They seek out the person who is the best qualified, with the most talent and best track record. But individual star players don’t always achieve the best results, and teams of star players can prove a disaster if they don’t blend together as a team. Simply picking ‘the best’ does not in itself guarantee success. Be involved; listen to your fellow staff members and colleagues, look after them. Understand their needs and worries. Sometimes it is much more appropriate to speak to each other instead of sending emails from one office to the other. The way to happy clients starts with happy members of staff.
Find your leadership style: Your leadership style is the consistent pattern of behavior that you exhibit when you attempt to influence the activities of people. Good management brings a degree of order and consistency to key dimensions like the quality and profitability of products. Leadership, by contrast, is about being able to cope with change. Part of the reason it has become so important in recent years is that the business world has become more competitive and volatile. Faster technological changes, greater international competition, the deregulation of markets, and the changing demographics of the workforce are among the many factors that have contributed to this shift.
Do not forget about your private, personal life. Look after your family:
In our stressful day to day business we often forget about the most important people in our lives – our family & friends. Without them we will never be able to perform at the high level expected from us.
“Dear graduates, please receive my sincerest congratulations to the “Postgraduate Diploma in Hospitality Management” of Les Roches Marbella. And wherever your dreams take you to, I wish you all the best for your professional and personal future. Should you ever think I could be of any help to you, do not hesitate to get in touch. Thank you again for the invitation. Celebrate and have a wonderful day.”
Postgraduate Closing Ceremony – Full Video
(Mr. Zimmer’s speech begins at 12:35)