Knut is from South Africa and has many years of experience from the hotel industry. He has a Bachelor`s degree in Hotel Management from Oxford Brooks University, and has held various roles in hotel chains such as Rica/Scandic, Marriott Hotels, Radisson and Sheraton. His career began at Sheraton Hotels, and from there on into Rica Hotels as Sales Manager, Rooms Division Manager and General Manager for several Rica Hotels. In addition, he opened several hotels for the Rica chain. Knut has his sales background from Rica and Radisson, amongst others.
At Marriott Hotels, he was responsible for global sales from the Norwegian market. Knut was the COO for G Travel Norway until July 2020.
Q: The last 18 months have been extremely challenging for everyone. What helped you cope with the uncertainty and stress?
A: The pandemic affected absolutely everybody, and I have spent a lot of time sharing thoughts and feelings with others in the same situation. This is something that has inspired me a lot. In addition, physical activity and exercise have been the best therapy!
Q: Are there any new skills you have developed or that you want to develop in the future?
A: I have become much better at listening more to others, and being there for friends and acquaintances who have needed support, both at work and in private.
Q: What skills do you think will become more relevant in the years to come?
A: Flexibility – being able to change direction at short notice is very important. The world has changed after the pandemic. What applies today is not necessarily relevant tomorrow.
Empathy – be kind to each other, listen more to each other and support each other!
Q: The pandemic forced us to reconsider leadership. What are your thoughts and how have you adapted?
A: I have stopped taking everything for granted! Everyone has been affected in one form or another. Managers need to spend more time supporting employees and being clearly visible in the company. It is now that positivity and hope for the future needs to be created.
Q: The entire industry faces the challenge of attracting and retaining talent. Do you have any thoughts on this that you would like to share with us?
A: Here we must work together and be the best ambassadors for our industry. We need to be creative and establish safe environments for all employees. The focus must be on the employee`s journey from the moment they enter the industry, how they are met, and what their opportunities are for development. The HSMAI Europe Student Council is a fantastic initiative that will help students build a large network, stimulate their professional growth, and create a sense of belonging in this fantastic industry of ours.
Q: How would someone who knows you describe you?
A: Early bird! Kind, caring, hardworking, conscientious, and at times somewhat impatient!
Q: Where does the next trip go, privately or at work?
A: The next trip is first to Frankfurt and then Madrid where we are hosting our HSMAI local events. On the personal front, my trip finally goes home to my mother in Cape Town. The pandemic has kept us apart for far too long.
Q: Describe a perfect weekend for you.
A: Gym, long walks with my dog and partner, gardening, good food and wine. Sundays always start with eggs and bacon and classical music!!
Q: Is there a book or podcast that recently inspired you and that you would recommend?
A: Fly Butterfly by Annicken Day. The book describes how important culture is, and how essential a leader`s role is in building a healthy company culture.
Q: Is there anything else you want to share with us?
I am proud to represent the HSMAI, and I look forward to contributing to the growth and development of our members.