Our Head of Recruitment & Training, Karsten, has been with Syft from the beginning and when he’s not grooving to disco music in the office, he’s interviewing and training future Syfters! Find out more about Karsten and his role at Syft in this post.
Hi Karsten, I heard you have decades of experience in hospitality, can you tell me more about your story?
Oh, it’s not decades. It’s 27 years to be exact.
That’s impressive. What was your first job then?
When I was young, I started out doing all sorts of odd jobs! My first real job was a paper round and my first job in hospitality was working as a kitchen porter. I did that for quite a few years.
How did you start your hospitality career after that?
Firstly, I wanted to be a receptionist. It’s because when I was 17, I wanted a job where I could talk my way out of things easily! Then I realised you need skills and training. So after 4 years of Hospitality Management study in Denmark, I applied to an apprenticeship to be a waiter. I then worked as a Chef de Rang for 2 years in Switzerland. After moving back to Denmark, I was lucky to start working with renowned chefs and several Michelin star restaurants, and have been working in hospitality ever since!What was it like working at a Michelin star restaurant?
It’s a very high standard of work and you always have to be at the top of your game and deliver your very best to the customers. The environment is 100% disciplined and also provides constant training to the staff. It could be stressful but also very rewarding at the same time because you learn and grow at a ridiculous speed.
What made you want to move to the UK?
I fell in love with a Danish girl and she wanted to study in London so I moved with her! After one year she went home and I ended up staying here for the last 17 years.
Wow! We didn’t expect that. So what did you do before joining Syft?
I was the Restaurant Manager for a Michelin star restaurant for 5 years, managing 35 staff at the peak and arranging everything and planning their rota weekly! Then I became a Recruitment Consultant for another 5 years, recruiting for permanent and temporary roles and providing consultancy to high-end restaurants and private clubs. Just before Syft, I was working as an Operations Director for a Kosher catering company. The company owner invested in Syft. It is a golden opportunity for me to go back to recruitment and give back to the workers again because Syft is a platform that respects and offers a fair treatment to workers. I want to be part of this and empower workers with choice and freedom in a hospitality career.
What made you choose a career in hospitality?
The career chose me! I am good at talking and good with people, and I enjoy it. I also got to see different places and enjoyed the best cuisine and wine. When I was a Sommelier, I was managing a wine cellar with 16,000 stock and often got the chance to visit different vineyards all over the world! Needless the cheese and cigar were amazing too!
What has the transition been like from providing and managing hospitality services to training and recruiting?
I found the transition easy. You have all of the skills and knowledge yourself from years of experience, so it’s easy to know who’s right for the job. I live by the rule that I would never hire anyone to work for Syft that I wouldn’t want working for myself – it’s a good basis to make sure we get the right staff onto the platform. I also love training people in hospitality, it’s very satisfying to see a person grow and acquire new skills. I enjoy very much of training the next generation for the industry.
We heard that you used to work for the Danish Royal Family, is that true? What was it like to work for Her Highness?
Back in the days when ‘he’ was married to Alexandra, they had a castle down in the South of Denmark. Right next to the castle, there was a Royal Privilege hotel. I was working at the hotel and we did a lot of functions at the castle. It was very interesting to meet the Royals and see that they are actually down-to-earth like everyone else!
What does your job at Syft entail on a day-to-day basis?
Interviewing and training all future Syfters! It’s a face-to-face role, which suits me.
What do you predict for the future of hospitality?
The future is a little hazy right now, as it stands after Brexit. If you look at the high percentage of hospitality workers coming from the EU countries, the future of staffing could be quite daunting! In terms of technology, it’s an industry that was a bit slow to pick up on new technologies, but it’s transitioning at an astonishing speed from apps for staffing, such as ourselves, to apps for payments, etc.
What’s your favourite part about the job?
We’re proud of being one of the first in the game. We’re working to rid the bad practices from old fashioned temp recruitment! A big thing for me as well, being in the industry myself for so long, is that we can pay the staff a significantly higher rate and offer them choice on when and where to work. In return, they are more motivated to develop a career in hospitality. That makes me happy.
What would your advice be to people who want to work in hospitality?
Be prepared to work on evenings and weekends, and long hours! It’s a customer-facing job so if you don’t like people, it’s definitely not for you! If you’re happy with both long hours and people, then you’re good to go. Be enthusiastic, hands-on, hard-working and don’t forget your hospitality smile! If there’s a MVQ opportunity, apply to it!It may sound demanding, but you will also develop a profession, go to many interesting places, meet exciting people from different walks of life, make friends and earn a decent living. So I’ll say it’s worth it!
What would your advice be to future Syfters attending induction and training?
Firstly, relax, smile and present yourself in the best possible way. Reassure me that you are going to look top of your game when you are working on behalf of Syft. We get induction and training attendees to wear their hospitality uniform so we know exactly how they are going to look when they are out working and representing Syft. Be prepared to tell me your experience and previous jobs. Don’t forget to bring your Passport/ID!
What do you in your spare time?
I enjoy wine tasting and some cigars with my friends. I go to the gym sometimes to help stay in shape.
And finally – what is your go-to karaoke song?
My Way – Frank Sinatra.
So, that’s our Head of Recruitment, Karsten! Want to join Syft or learn from Karsten? You can sign up to attend an induction with Karsten (or a member of his wonderful team!) by downloading the Syft app.