These interviews are part of a series that highlights new hires within the industry. Have you recently started a new role or do you know someone who has? Submit your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sietse Nabben was recently named the General Manager & Chief Enthusiast for the Canopy by Hilton Jersey City.
1. What are you looking forward to most in your new role?
When taking on an hotel opening project, you spend a lot of time on establishing processes for the operations, partnering with your design team, construction team and many other partners, as well as building a team that has the right mentality and personality to form a tight, collaborative group that can work towards the opening together. As much fun and rewarding as this process is, when the doors open and we get the chance to see the fruit of our labor, it’s one of the most special moments. Seeing the chips fall into place and seeing our team members interact with our guests are definitely high on the list of things to look forward to.
2. How do you think past experiences have prepared you for this role?
Throughout my career, especially in the last half of my hotel life, I spent a lot of time working with independent hotel brands, boutique management organizations and a variety of different ownership groups. Navigating through these companies and managing the many unique relationships definitely forces you to be more resourceful and resilient in critical situations, such as a brand new opening. Having managed various rebranding initiatives of hotels and restaurants, relaunching a renovated hotel and taking on the lead on a newly built hotel in NYC has certainly provided some knowledge that has become very useful in this new and exciting project.
3. How did you get into this industry?
This seems quite the cliché story, but when I was growing up in The Netherlands, and it came time for me to get a part time job while in high school, I became a waiter at a local restaurant in my hometown. Even after going to college to study Mechanical Engineering, I kept working there, and gradually moved up to be a bartender and even a party manager at times. I soon found out that hotel school was in the cards for me, so switched my study focus, moved to a different city in The Netherlands and found my calling for the future there. During my last year in hotel school I even started my own catering staffing business, and soon after left for a hotel internship in Boston, MA. That’s where my hotel career started quite a while ago.
4. What are you hoping to achieve in your new role?
First of all, I am very grateful to be working with this brand, Canopy by Hilton fits right in my wheelhouse of experience and passion, and having a brand as Hilton support you on so many different levels has been fantastic. Canopy is all about connecting with our community, ensuring that our guests get a good feel and experience of our surroundings while staying in our vibrant neighborhood. We have been working hard to create that bond with the local business partners and organizations, even in these difficult times. We really see ourselves as a light post in the community and Jersey City has been a great platform to make that happen.
5. What do you enjoy most about the industry?
Putting a team together and working towards the same goal. I aim to maximize everyone’s strength and at the same time, develop their skillset to be successful in their roles. It’s a joy to see people’s growth during their time working with you and when they tell you that they are ready for the next opportunity, it’s very rewarding to be part of their journey in their careers.