Looking back to his early years as a kitchen apprentice—he started at the age of 14—Patrick Beck learned that success does not come easy. Throughout more than four decades of senior-level hospitality experience in Europe, the United States and the Middle East, the French native managed to amass a wealth of expertise. His current roles as General Manager of Hotel Borobudur and the Publicity & Communication Director of SKAL International Jakarta may keep him busy, but the friendly former chef makes it a point to always stay engaged on a personal level with his staff. He sat down with NOW! Jakarta to share his secret to successful career and well-balanced life.

Up Close and Personal with Patrick Beck

What’s your average day like?
I start my day around seven, and then I go to straight to my office to check all the reports, from financial to complaints. There are so many things to read in the morning before I get ready to hold my regular morning meeting with the Heads of Departments. In the meeting, everyone gets a chance to speak. I listen to their updates and problems, guide and support them by giving advice and solution. Then, it’s time for hotel tour. Depending on my meeting schedules, I look around the hotel regularly to check that everything is in its highest quality in terms of service, cleanliness and many more.

What do you think is the most crucial aspect of working in the hospitality industry?
If you choose to have a career in hospitality, you have to be people person. You need to have passion to meet, listen and engage with people in a friendly and professional disposition. Nobody wants to go to five-star hotels or restaurants to be abused by impolite staff. So I think it is essential to have an outgoing personality. From security to public relations, from chef to upper managers, everyone in the hotel has the same obligation: to take care of the guests by providing the best professional service because that’s what guests pay for and that is the reason why they want to come back. And of course, education is crucial. To work in a five-star hotel, you need to have proper training so you know how to deliver premium service to guests, handle problems, create exciting programmes and so forth.

What is the most exciting part of your job?
Meeting with people is definitely the most rewarding thing, and it is happy guests and happy staff that put a smile on my face every day. The contentment of employees is equally important as the satisfaction of guests. In fact, I have admiration for people who work in Hotel Borobudur, every morning they come from different places. Some may live very far away and need to take the train in early morning and probably will arrive at the hotel tired. However, despite of their daily life challenges, they manage to give one-million-dollar service to our guests every day. I believe that the success of hotel does not only depend on the GM or upper managers. It also depends on every single staff who work together to reach that same goal.

What are the challenges?
Well, the list can be very long (laughing). Since the most fulfilling thing is to see my guests and staff happy, it is also the biggest challenge for me. Unlike working in front of the computer, maintaining human contact is very complex. We come from different places, different backgrounds and speak different languages as well, so it is surely challenging to make everyone happy, but of course it is worth the hard work (smiling).

Tell us about your leadership approach.
I lead by setting an example. I think if you want other people to do things in certain ways, you have to do it yourself first. Show them the best way to do the job. I’m very strict but I’m even stricter to myself. I respect others as I want to be respected, and most importantly, I listen to my staff. My door is always open so they can come and discuss anything with me.

What do you do for fun on the weekends?
I surely like to get out of the hotel as much as possible if I want to relax and recharge the battery a little bit. I have several friends in town, so it is always fun to hang out with your friends in new places to steam out a bit. Many of them are also hotel GMs but we try to avoid talking about hotels during our leisure time (laughing). Unfortunately, there are not many recreational things to do in Jakarta except for malls or restaurants. Sometimes my fellow GM friends would invite me to spend a weekend at their place and vice versa. Change of scenery is very important to keep my life balance. I also like to exercise, probably three to four times a week depending on my schedule and I like to cook at home. It’s a relaxing thing to do for me.

What is your personal philosophy in life?
Be honest as honest can be. Honest with your commitment, with your job and with your relationship. Sometimes I’m wrong, sometimes I regret what I did or what I said to other people, but one thing for sure, I never do anything to hurt anyone intentionally. I treat people the way I want to be treated. I like a quote by Bruce Lee, “Be water, my friend”, from The Lost Interview in 1971. His message was that it is important to have flexibility such as water in life, so we can adjust and adapt ourselves in any situation. I think this is very inspiring and relatable to me.