Leading with Empathy | Pasquale Baiguera

by Behnaz Sanjana

Sun, 04 March 2018

Leading with Empathy | Pasquale Baiguera

Pasquale Baiguera, talks to Behnaz Sanjana about his professional experience and passion for the hospitality industry.

Presently the general manager of Mövenpick Hotel Bahrain, young Pasquale, while growing up in Milan, was professionally headed for the finance industry. But his father’s bid to teach him the value of money earned by his own merit made him venture into hospitality. “At 19, I wanted to go on holiday on my own,” says Pasquale. “My father told me that I’d have to fund my vacation myself. So, I took up a temporary job as night concierge at a hotel to earn some money.”

He liked the work so much that, after he finished school, he returned to working in hotels and has never looked back since. He says: “I started off as telephone operator, went on to front office and the rooms division, and have been general manager for hotels around Europe and the Middle East for the past 17 years.

“My last posting was in Beirut with the Mövenpick chain. I am just about nine months old in Bahrain, which is the eighth post in my 35 years of experience in hotels, my longest stints being in Prague, Dubai and Beirut.”
Pasquale believes that he has arrived in Bahrain at an interesting time for the industry. “A lot of new hotels have opened, which means more competition,” he says. “The challenge keeps you working to remain the preferred hotel in Bahrain. There are many activities and initiatives taken by the government for supporting our industry, so I’m sure things will be looking up in the long run.”

On a personal front, Pasquale says that moving to the Kingdom has perhaps been the most pleasant and smooth transition he has ever made. “The people are so friendly, helpful and welcoming,” he says. “Formalities like acquiring the visa and driver’s licence, and finding accommodation have been fairly easy. Because Bahrain has touched my heart, I don’t feel like an outsider.” 

He is all set to oversee major changes at the popular five-star hotel, with the property slated for renovations in the near future. “The rooms, lobby and food and beverage outlets will have a new look soon. Gallery, which is our all-day coffee shop, will get a new concept and layout, and also a new name,” he says.

“A hotel is a micro-world on its own that works 24 hours a day, all year, unlike a typical office. We work long hours and need to be present very early in the mornings or late into the nights for events like our theme dinners, VIP arrivals and check-outs or large banquets. So, it is important to motivate staff to work in such a high-pressure environment. As a company, Mövenpick has always had a very strong work ethic. Respect for people is one of our core values – whether they are our guests or employees. If the staff is happy, we can be sure the guests will be happy.”

Pasquale is proud to note that, despite ample job opportunities in the market, the hotel has a very low staff turnover rate, saying: “We not only take good care of our employees, but also empower them to go the extra mile and add a personal touch while interacting with guests. With a high number of repeat clientele, guests feel comfortable seeing familiar faces every time they visit us. In fact, some of our staff have been with us since the inception of the hotel. We work in a friendly, family environment.”

He attributes his success to his quest for learning, and adds: “This has been true starting from my first job as a teenager. Even today, one needs to adapt to different people and places irrespective of past experience.” 
With a democratic, yet firm and decisive management style, he is much respected by those who work with him. “I don’t want people to work well out of fear or because I’m around,” he says. “I want them to do so because it is the right thing to do.”