'We operate with leadership, integrity and having a caring spirit'

Updated: 2016-12-12 07:40

By Sophie He in Hong Kong(HK Edition)

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 'We operate with leadership, integrity and having a caring spirit'

Chief Executive Officer David Berg of Carlson Hospitality Group says the group has moved to lead toward promotion that targets millennials on the Chinese mainland who love fashion, art and music, and who are looking for a hip experience. Parker Zheng / China Daily

Originally a lawyer, Carlson Hospitality Group Chief Executive Officer David Berg only made the jump to hospitality and travel when he joined in early 2014.

After graduating with an economics degree from Emory University, he also completed his law degree from the University of Florida College Of Law.

"I made the move from being a lawyer to international business when I joined a fitness company," Berg says.

"I wanted to find new ways to generate revenue so we put a business plan together and started an international business for that."

He also has a background in retail industry, where he as the executive vice-president of Best Buy International, leading the $13 billion international division. He was also formerly the chief operating officer of GNC.

Previously, he worked as executive vice-president and president of Outback Steakhouse International, responsible for more than 200 restaurants in 20 countries and regions.

Leadership qualities

Berg now leads Carlson's corporate center, and also heads and manages the global hotel business with the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group's global executive team reporting to him.

"As a leader, I would like to think of myself as a coach and it is my job to make it clear to the team about what we are trying to accomplish, and then let the team go and get it done," he says.

"My job is to help remove obstacles for my people so that they can do their best work."

'We operate with leadership, integrity and having a caring spirit'

One of his main goals at Carlson is inviting people to bring their own unique capabilities to work every day and not be stifled by a uniform way of completing tasks, Berg says. It is this strategy that allows employees to do things their own way, so they can unleash and perform at their best.

"The family history about Carlson Group and the strong heritage around our values - being leaders, operating with integrity and having a caring spirit. Those are the things that were developed 80 years ago, and they are still very much at the forefront of our business."

Starting from the bottom

Berg says the hospitality industry is unique in the sense that young people can join at the bottom of the ladder, and eventually grow within an organization. He has seen youngsters can come in as a front desk clerk, or working at the housekeeping department, and work their way up to eventually run the hotel.

"I think it is an incredible industry. It is an industry that has performed really well during the past six or seven years," he says.

"It has its cycles like any industry, but people will always need a place to stay (when they are traveling) - there will always be a place for hotels in the economy."

As for those who want to enter the hotel business, Berg says they must be willing to take risks and not be too concerned about having a concrete plan for the future.

"You don't just climb the ladder. It is more like a jungle gym, so be open to change, be open to new opportunities, don't be afraid of taking on different experiences, even if it does not fit into your plan perfectly."


(HK Edition 12/12/2016 page9)