I was born in 1971 in Lebbeke into a family of independent parents who had a small business in fruit and vegetables. Together with my sister, I grew up there until I went to study in Leuven at the age of eighteen.
I first studied Slavic Languages, where I learned Russian, Polish and Czech; a very interesting study, that taught me to look with a broad view. During those studies I studied for six months in Moscow and for two months in Prague; fantastic experiences that have partly shaped me and will always remain a part of me. After those studies, I followed an additional course in Business Economics in order to be better prepared for the challenges on the labour market.
Never stop learning is one of my mottos. Amongst others, I completed the Middle Management Program at Vlerick Leuven-Gent Management School, took an Intercultural Management course at Thomas More Mechelen and followed several short-term courses. Recently I completed my Professional Coach training at Better Minds at Work.
I met my wife in Poland. We have been happily married since 2007. We have been living in Landen for a quite some time now. We enjoy each other’s company, good food and good (especially Italian) wine, traveling, hiking and watching movies and TV-series.
In terms of industries I have worked in, my career is divided into two parts: a first part in the waste and recycling industry and a second part in the hospitality and leisure industry. The first couple of years I was mainly active in commercial functions, after which I took on more operational roles and eventually I ended up in general management. A very interesting and educational course in various roles within different companies. Most of my career I worked in Belgium, but I also worked for three years permanently in Poland and for two years permanently in the Czech Republic.
I am passionate about services management in general because of the direct interaction between customer and service provider. Having to operate at the highest service level all the time to meet and exceed customer expectations gives me an enormous drive.
Most of my energy I get from working in the hospitality and leisure industry. Seeing the reactions of guests who are extremely excited about the experience makes me happy too. Hence my decision a few years ago to work exclusively in that industry.
At the beginning of 2019, I decided to become a full-time Independent consultant / Interim manager / Coach within the hospitality and leisure industry and to fully utilize my experience and expertise in various companies.
My first experience in the hospitality and leisure industry was in the cinema business when I joined Kinepolis Group as Theatre Manager at Kinepolis Poznan (Poland). A very challenging role, in which I was responsible for the biggest cinema complex in Europe. A very broad role too, with focus on human resources, operations, B2C and B2B marketing and sales, booking and programming and finance. By the end of my three year stay, we had managed to increase visitor numbers by more than 25 percent and we had become the operationally highest rated cinema complex across the Group.
Next, I took up a new challenge within Kinepolis Group in Belgium as Operations Manager Belgium East, with the operational responsibility for six cinema theatres; after that I became National Theatre Manager, having the operational responsibility for all 11 Belgian cinemas complexes. Very challenging roles, focusing on developing the Theatre Managers and their teams. I contributed to setting up operational and financial benchmarking and the development of a completely new organizational structure for the cinema complexes. During this period we also realized some very challenging projects, such as the switch from free seating to numbered seating and the transition from the fast lane concept to the browsing area concept for Food & Beverage and Merchandising. The development and opening of the new cinema complex in Oostende was also an great achievement.
The next chapter in the hospitality and leisure industry brought me to the theme park industry , particularly at Plopsa Group. As Operations Director I was responsible for the operational management of the 5 theme parks in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. In this role, the focus was on developing the Operations Managers of the theme parks. Important projects were the set-up of a new organizational model for the outdoor parks and the introduction of a new planning model, optimizing the planning of staff members in relation to the expected visitor numbers for all operational departments involved. A very challenging project was the development and implementation of a uniform policy for handling guests with disabilities, which was developed in close collaboration with various interest groups and government agencies.
My last experience brought me to Comics Station Antwerp, an indoor theme park. As Park director I was responsible for the general management of the theme park. The first challenge was a radical turnaround of the park with the recruitment of an almost completely new management team and a change of the operational model in order to drastically reduce operational costs. At the same time, visitor numbers were significantly increased by setting up collaborations with various external sales partners. When the first phase was done, we did a full rebranding and we developed the possibilities for B2B-sales and put them actively into the market.
Since the beginning of January 2019, I am a full-time Independent consultant / Interim manager / Coach for the hospitality and leisure industry, supporting companies in the industry on the operational and strategic level.