The world of hospitality is an extraordinary global titan, uniting a mosaic of cultures and societies to craft unforgettable moments for globetrotters in every corner of the world. Whether it’s the opulence of grand hotels, the charm of cozy B&Bs, or the allure of eclectic eateries and coffee houses, this influential industry molds the narratives of individuals and communities on a global scale.
A standout luminary who has mastered the craft of hospitality is Nicola Aldo Luciani. Boasting an impressive portfolio that spans 18 years, Nicola Aldo’s career features stints in Michelin-starred restaurants and premier luxury hotels dotted across three continents and five cities. His impressive trajectory, saturated with diverse cultures and environments, has endowed him with a unique vantage point in the industry. He has learned to gracefully pivot across varying landscapes, steer sizable teams, and control intricate operations.
Nicola Aldo’s career is a testament to his knack for sailing smoothly through intricate and ever-evolving settings. He has been an integral part of the pre and post-opening phases of three hotels, directed the establishment of over 40 venues, and helmed the training and management of an army of personnel. This journey has instilled in him the value of adaptability, leadership, and strategic foresight in delivering superior quality products and services to patrons.
In an exclusive tête-à-tête, we delved into Nicola Aldo’s illustrious career in hospitality, his approach to leadership, and his management techniques. Through our dialogue, he exhibited his prowess in navigating diverse and multifaceted environments while keeping his eyes on the prize of delivering premium results. His comprehensive understanding of the industry, coupled with an unwavering pursuit of excellence, makes him an invaluable resource for any entity within the hospitality sector.
Today, we will unravel Nicola Aldo’s remarkable odyssey in the hospitality sector, scrutinizing his leadership style, managerial prowess, and strategic planning acumen. From his humble beginnings in Michelin-starred kitchens to his present-day role as a renowned Hospitality Business Strategist Consultant & Project Manager, we will delve into the insights, encounters, and tactics that have propelled Nicola Aldo to the pinnacle of hospitality.
Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a novice in the field, our in-depth conversation with one of the industry’s most accomplished and inventive trailblazers is a must-read. By sharing his expertise, experiences, and wisdom, Nicola Aldo invites us on a journey to comprehend the intricacies and nuances of excelling in the electrifying and ever-dynamic domain of hospitality.
We’re so excited to chat with you today, Nicola! Can you tell us a little bit about what drew you to pursue a career in the hospitality industry? How has your journey across three continents and five cities shaped your approach to leadership and management? We’d love to hear more about the experiences that have shaped your career!
Growing up, I was captivated by James Bond and Indiana Jones movies, with their flashy cars, luxurious lifestyles, and thrilling explorations. At the age of 20, I felt that Italy could no longer contain my ambitions. I remember staring at a map, my finger landing on London, and promptly buying a flight ticket.
Once in London, after some searching, I was fortunate to land a job at NOBU Berkeley, a high-end Japanese restaurant notorious for its celebrity clientele. I vividly recall walking in for an interview, goosebumps prickling my skin. Envisioning myself working there, I remember whispering to myself, “This is it.”
From that point, I have worked and lived across three continents and five cities, maturing as a professional, an adult, and a leader. The learning experience was immense, extending far beyond the realm of hospitality. I assimilated valuable training, learned work ethics, and so much more. I encountered various types of leaders and managers, both good and bad. I absorbed the commendable practices, discarded the negative ones, and shaped them into my unique leadership style.
How do you manage to maintain consistency in standards across different cultural settings, and what steps do you take to ensure that staff members feel valued and engaged in their work?
Coaching and personal development are paramount to me, both for myself and others. I constantly invest time to refine my abilities as a coach and facilitator, maintaining an unending eagerness to master my skills and uplift those around me. I seize every opportunity to assess and provide feedback.
I ensure that my messages are clear, my vision well-articulated, and my expectations explicitly communicated. Equally important, I verify that my team has all the necessary tools to accomplish their tasks. This approach underscores my commitment to a supportive and productive working environment.
Can you describe a specific project or initiative that you implemented during your time working in different cities or continents, and what impact did it have on the business’s success?
When I commenced work at my previous job, I quickly observed the stressful onboarding process for new employees. A significant number of new hires failed to endure the initial three-month probation period—the demands simply proved too overwhelming.
Previously, the onboarding training was a rigorous, immersive process, potentially involving a full day in the kitchen or comprehensive lessons about the company’s HR practices and values. Recognizing the need for change, I introduced a less intense, more gradual training program, emphasizing incremental steps and the assignment of a team mentor to each new hire.
The mentor and the new employee would convene twice weekly, with the mentor guiding the new recruit through the onboarding process and providing consistent shadowing. This revised approach aimed to facilitate a smoother transition for new staff members, ultimately fostering a more inclusive and supportive workplace environment.
How have you developed your communication and interpersonal skills to effectively manage teams with diverse backgrounds and languages, and how have you adapted your leadership style accordingly?
Over the years, I’ve cultivated a keen awareness of myself. I’ve learned that communication extends beyond mere words; often, actions carry greater significance. This is particularly true in countries where translating from English to the local language can be challenging.
Throughout my career, I have been an avid student, keenly observing those I believe hold valuable lessons. Today, I’ve developed my own leadership style, which varies depending on my work environment and the individuals I work with. Not everyone responds to the same management and leadership approach.
The challenge lies in discerning what each individual needs and when, then tailoring my approach accordingly. This adaptability has become a cornerstone of my management philosophy and continues to inform my interactions with my team.
Can you tell us about a time when you had to handle a challenging situation while working in a different cultural environment, and how did you navigate through it?
This is a universal experience, one that can happen anywhere, even in one’s own country. We all have our own stories to tell, without necessarily globe-trotting. However, there’s one particular instance that tops my list.
While I can’t delve too deep due to privacy concerns, one of the most challenging experiences involved working with a colleague who was meant to be supportive but fell far from it.
This individual held a role where the team was on his side. As an outsider—a consultant from a different country and cultural environment—I had to gain trust, all while managing business priorities and tight timelines.
Reflecting on the episode now, I recall the stress of appearing as though I wasn’t fulfilling my responsibilities because much of my work was happening behind the scenes. I was getting things done without receiving due credit.
I attribute the success of that period to my ability to remain composed and not get embroiled in unnecessary debates. I carefully chose my “battles” and patiently waited for my actions to speak on my behalf. This experience underscored the importance of patience, strategy, and the power of silent action.
How do you stay abreast of emerging trends and innovations in the hospitality industry, and how do you incorporate them into your work to keep your team ahead of the competition?
My primary strategy involves collaborating closely with my team. Trends fluctuate rapidly, and what is effective in one country may not work in another. With this in mind, I allocate time for travel and make it a point to dine out as often as possible. Conducting extensive research on the Internet also constitutes a significant part of my strategy for staying current with the latest trends.
In addition, I place substantial emphasis on my team. After all, it’s the people who work in hospitality that truly make the experience unique. I establish a vision, and collectively with the team, we discuss how to bring it to life and create a tangible, memorable experience.
How have your experiences working across multiple continents and cities influenced your approach to problem-solving and critical thinking, and what strategies do you employ when faced with a difficult challenge?
Traveling has undeniably enhanced my critical thinking skills. It has taught me a great deal about human nature and the substantial role unconscious bias plays in our decision-making process. Unwittingly, we’re swayed by negative stereotypes, which can have harmful consequences.
I’ve realized that in order to devise an effective strategy, I need to step back from the process and question the assumptions I’ve made. Over the years, I’ve honed my methodology for pinpointing the real problem by asking the right questions.
What do you consider to be your greatest strengths when working in different cultural settings, and how have they contributed to your success as a hospitality professional?
I have a knack for connecting with people and building rapport swiftly. Investing in people and relationships has been a fundamental aspect of my role as a leader and businessperson. Furthermore, I excel at listening, which I consider incredibly important, particularly when operating in diverse cultural settings. Paying attention to others and genuinely absorbing what they are saying can significantly impact productivity and motivation.