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Michel Jauslin, Area Vice President Operations France & Morocco, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts

Nothing predestined Michel Jauslin to a forty-plus year career in hospitality and yet he jokes that he has always had “a career road map” in his head.

Born in the Swiss Romande, Jauslin pursued a typical Helvetian education, attending the Ecole Supérieure de Commerce of Neuchatel with the intention of later studying law, until one day he picked up a friend’s book on wine and within a week was enrolled at the Lausanne Hotel School.

He remembers that decisive moment of sudden enlightenment with gratitude; it gave him the impetus and motivation that has propelled him through four decades of a passionate, international career.

Jauslin self-identifies as a “corporate beast”. After his internship as an accountant at the 400-room InterContinental Hotel in Geneva, he worked his way up the ranks of that group, to F&B director in Abidjan, after which he accepted an offer as assistant F&B manager from The Peninsula in Hong Kong. There, he was immediately tossed into an unfamiliar and chaotic professional situation in a hotel that, at the time, had no written procedures and no food cost control. Unsurprisingly, the hotel, run with paternalistic largesse if not process, did not meet Jauslin’s Swiss need for standards, so he wrote them himself.

In 1977, after improving his English sufficiently, Jauslin joined the Hyatt Group and was assigned to the Regency in Manila, Philippines, for three years as assistant F&B manager.

By age thirty, Jauslin had worked his way back to France as assistant general manager and then general manager at the Hyatt in Nice. While there, he was called upon to open the Hyatt Regency in Delhi, India, as general manager. “I had to get out a map to see where that was”, he quips, but his surprise was nothing compared to the shock of the magnificent hotel’s property owner in Delhi when he saw Jauslin’s tender age. Two years later, the Hyatt asked him to handle yet another opening, this time in Jerusalem, but by this time Jauslin was somewhat reluctant; he began to feel that his career map was being driven by the corporation and not his own free will. One of the Hyatt vice presidents, sensing his reluctance, promised him, “If you go there (to Jerusalem), you can choose your next destination”. He chose the Grand Hyatt Seoul, accumulating the function of general manager and regional director for Korea.

As general manager of the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme since 2001, Jauslin was initially responsible for the hotel opening in 2002. In that role, he first assumed the function of project manager himself, working closely with a junior project manager and the technical team to handle and expedite the repairs of the more than 250 defects inventoried during the opening process.

On top of his position as general manager at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme, Jauslin was also regional director for Southern Europe and North Africa. He has been named General Manager of the Year several times.

Since 2016, the complex work of project management at Hyatt France is being handled by Michel Jauslin under the title of “area vice president – operations“, which involves keeping an eye on well over a thousand pages of documents that require close scrutiny. The scope of work is immense, involving architects, designers, and technical services. It calls for verifying bids that may be different for each hotel room. At Hyatt, suites are not, by definition, designed to be standardized, requiring calls for bids from different contractors, each of which has to go through the approval process, room by room. Final approval on projects at Hyatt must be obtained first from the European head office – the AEME or African, European and Middle East seat, which is in Zurich – and then from the Hyatt Group home office in Chicago.

Jauslin is highly experienced when it comes to intercultural negotiations. American corporate culture has trained him to “push back” against what he refers to as “tribal links and white chief attitudes”.

He founded The Hyatt Student Prize in 2008, the purpose of which is to support hospitality schools and inspire their students to embrace careers in the world of international luxury hospitality.

On leadership, he says, “There are always two hierarchies in a corporation but it’s always the natural leader who takes over”.