Novotel manager named business leader of year

KASHKA TUNSTALL
Last updated 08:17 24/11/2012
 Dick Breukink
Chris Hillock/Fairfax NZ
CLEAR WINNER: Dick Breukink, general manager for Novotel Tainui Hamilton, has won the ‘‘leader of the year’’ award.

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Running a hotel is a team effort, says the winner of the 2012 leadership award. 

Dick Breukink's entry for "leader of the year" in this year's Waikato Business Excellence Awards was an afterthought, he says.

The general manager of the Ibis Tainui and Novotel Tainui in Hamilton had nominated the hotels in the large business award category and the thought of nominating himself came later.

Nominations for the leadership award can be made by businesses entering into any of the award categories.

Breukink says he was "shocked" when he was announced as Waikato's 2012 leader at the awards dinner.

"I never thought that I could win. You always think about different colleagues in town, what they do and how they lead their businesses and their commitment towards their community."

Breukink leads a team of about 150 which between the two hotels caters for 110,000 guest nights a year.

He rates his team as "the best in the business" and attributes his success as a leader to the people he works alongside.

"We really see whatever we do in the hotels as a team effort. I can't do it alone," he says.

"If you don't have the right team to back you up then the leader is ineffective."

Breukink has worked for Novotel and Ibis parent company Accor for 22 years. Before making his way to Hamilton, he set up the Ibis in Christchurch after working as a hotel manager in his native Holland and in the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, the Caribbean and Dubai.

"Working with all these different cultures and working in the Caribbean is a bit different to working in New Zealand so I had to get used to the culture here, but also by travelling so much you learn to adapt a lot quicker."

Chamber of Commerce chief executive Sandra Perry says Breukink was the clear winner of the award.

"He has a very strong team and it's very evident that they have the utmost respect for him," she said.

"His personality is a big part of leadership as well."

Breukink's advice for other staff leaders?

"Give them direction, give them a vision of what you want but at the same time empower them to run their departments in the right direction." he says.

"I feel like I'm on the bridge.

"I give them directions but at the end of the day they operate the hotel and I have to let them do their work."

And it's OK to make mistakes, he says, as long as they don't happen too often.

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Not only does Breukink look after two hotels, he's a solo father to two teenagers after the death of his wife.

Richard, 17, and Nicole, 15, have spent their lives moving from country to country but have settled down in Cambridge.

They go to Cambridge High School and Breukink said they're proud to have the association with the hotel industry.

"They were born in hotels, practically."

Breukink's stint in Hamilton is his longest posting yet and he has no plans to leave any time soon.

He's involved with local council and tourism initiatives to put the city on the map.

"Hamilton always tries to relate to other cities. We compare ourselves, when we shouldn't. We're unique," he says.

"There's so much potential to develop more business with the great connections we have.

"I look to Raglan, Tauranga, Hobbiton being so close and the Waitomo caves, I'm sure we can develop that."

"We are as good as Wellington or Auckland or Christchurch. If we think positive about our city, it'll be successful."

kashka.tunstall@waikatotimes.co.nz

- © Fairfax NZ News

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