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'I'll set the bar higher'

BORN to a British father and a French Mauritian mother in Venezuela, Guy Hutchinson was educated in Africa and started his career in the hospitality industry in London.

That was a long way through many different cities around the world, before he landed in Shanghai and took up the position of the general manager of Hilton Shanghai in April 2008. By that time he already had rich experience in dealing with people and leading a big team to serve guests from all walks of life.

Spending part of the time working on hotel strategy with executives on the board and part of the time dealing with daily operations, Hutchinson never forgets that the core of the hospitality business is the guests.

"Our business is a human business," he says.

Leading a team of more than 1,100 people, he has his own way of listening to different opinions and suggestions from the ground level.

He randomly picks eight staff to have lunch with him every month and listens to their problems and suggestions.

"More brains are better than one and I am nervous when people say yes to me because I can't be right all the time."

"Staff is always at the forefront of how we operate our daily business and how we relate to customers."

Hutchinson is confident, as always, despite the global financial crisis. "Even if there are difficulties, they usually turn out to be opportunities to out-perform oneself," he says.

When he took charge of Hilton Shanghai, he led the team to restructure the hotel and review the overall business situation for about half a year. "As a result, when the crisis came, our market share increased."

"Instead of the color of the carpet, the design of the guest rooms, the heart of the business is about people and how to serve people," he says.

Energetic and enthusiastic, Hutchinson enjoys every minute of life in the city.

He describes his first Chinese Lunar New Year in Shanghai as the most unforgettable experience he's had in the city. "This gives me the feeling that everyone in the city is celebrating the festival instead of an official celebration."

"If you have been to China but never seen the celebration on New Year's Day, it's a crime."

He started to ride a horse called Action about a year ago at a ranch outside Shanghai.

In his philosophy, passion for work has a lot to do with passion for life.

"For me it's not work-life balance, but life-work balance because life always comes first."

"Every year my wife and I will try to learn a new skill. It could be horseback riding or scuba diving, because the world is full of learning opportunities and experiences."

"When I find a lot of fun and passion in my private life, I also became more organized and my work performance improves."

"The three pillars of how I look at things are how our business is performing, how we live our life and how we contribute to society."

Hutchinson was working at Hilton Tokyo Bay when Japan hosted the 2005 World Expo in Aichi.

He says the Expo Shanghai has a much bigger impact.

"It was a fantastic opportunity when the economy is gradually recovering. A lot focus was placed on the city and many delegations as well as individual travelers are coming here."

The Expo has also lifted Shanghai's image, as construction and renovation projects are underway.

Apart from cooperating with an official Expo travel agency, Hilton Shanghai has set up an Expo corner for visitors and delegations to provide the best access to all kinds of information, including tickets and licensed Expo products.

Hutchinson always has a clear view of his objective. Every week, he'll take half an hour to review where he stands and which direction he's heading. He is never satisfied with good performance. "When I find I'm already close to the target, I'll set the bar higher," he says.

Looking forward, he hopes for more exciting challenges in his life and career and is still open to many different choices.

"Life is putting many choices in front of you and if you're too concentrated on your goal and don't have an open mind, you may miss the opportunities that come around."

Favorite Dish

Hutchinson's favorite dish is the Kobe Beef at the Leonardo's, which is a Teppanyaki dish made from Japanese beef.

Best Deals

Hilton Shanghai is now offering "green packaging" for its mooncake gift box to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival.

The package is made from imported recycled board paper, and boxes are painted in non-toxic ink, as the hotel hopes to raise awareness of the importance of managing the world's natural resources.

The hotel will also donate 10 yuan (US$1.40) to the World Wide Fund for Nature for every box of Hilton mooncake purchased. "It matches the way that we do business, at the same time it's very creative and combines social responsibility with a cultural festival."

Overlooked Perks

Hutchinson enjoys spicy Sichuan food, and is particularly fond of Dan Dan Noodles.

"I always finish dinner when I have Sichuan food with Dan Dan Noodles." He recommends the Sichuan Court in the Hilton Shanghai.

"It's well-known but sometimes forgotten because it has been in the market for a long time.

"People need to be reminded of the delicious meals they have had."


1997: Joining Hilton Hotels Corp as director of Business Development at the Hilton Amsterdam.

2000: Appointed hotel manager of the Hilton Dubai Creek in the United Arab Emirates.

2002: Appointed director of Operations of the Hilton Tokyo Bay in Tokyo.

2005: Appointed general manager of the Hilton Cairns in Australia.

2008: Appointed general manager of the Hilton Shanghai.


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