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Insight; New York Hospitality Professionals - This Week: Hanna Giem

“Insight; New York Hospitality Professionals”, a weekly interview series with professionals from the MICE industry in New York.

These are uncertain times for our industry – yet we believe that now is the moment to bring our industry closer together by strengthening our ties and relationships on a more human level. It is for this reason that Shackman Associates is undertaking a series of interviews with other New York hospitality professionals to learn how they are managing during this time.


In this episode of Insight; New York Hospitality Professionals Karen Shackman, President and CEO of Shackman Associates interviews Hanna Giem, Director of Group Sales at the Mandarin Oriental New York.

Karen Shackman: I am so glad you were able to join me for this interview. I am a big fan of the Mandarin Oriental and the Aviary Bar which not only has a truly unique selection of cocktails but also an incredible view of Central Park. Hanna, please introduce yourself. 

Hanna: Hello! My name is Hanna Giem, Director of Group Sales at Mandarin Oriental, New York and I’m approaching 3 years with this iconic property.

Karen: What is your current situation? Are you in lockdown? And if so where? 

Hanna: My husband and I are staying in Hell’s Kitchen, not too far from Columbus Circle. Our neighborhood has livened up so much in the last week and I can feel the energy of the city coming back!

Karen: I I am so pleased you are also seeing the energy of the city lifting. Two of our colleagues living not too far from Columbus Circle are noting the same thing - and that is very encouraging. What is your routine like these days?

Hanna: I’ve started meal planning over the weekends, and try to keep the weekdays consistent during working hours. Most outings involve trips to the grocery store, and we bike or jog over to get in somewhat of a workout. When possible, I try to get outside for the daily 7pm cheers for front-line workers, as it’s so uplifting.

Karen:  That 7pm salutation to the front-line workers is so very emotional! It is good to know that it is woven into your daily routine. Now, especially, it is important to keep to some sort of routine. What does your work from home office situation look like?

Hanna: Similar, but certainly not as exciting! I now have a dedicated office area set up to stay focused during work hours but miss looking out at our Central Park views.

Karen: I totally understand that. Those views of Central Park are truly special. How do you connect with your team?

Hanna: Many Teams and Zoom calls, to stay connected and collaborate during this time apart.

Karen: We also use Teams and the Microsoft 360 suite for a better collaboration from home. What do you find the most challenging about the change in your work situation? 

Hanna: I miss my team, daily human interactions with both colleagues and clients, and the variety of activities throughout the day with site inspections, client entertainment, coffee runs, and occasional walks through Central Park.

Karen: I agree. The human interaction factor is so hard to replace through webinars or video calls - even though they do have their purpose right now for sharing info and gaining knowledge as we ride out this crisis. Do you participate in any work happy hours or webinars? 

Hanna: Yes!! There are so many webinars and resources available during this time and I try to schedule in as many throughout the week. The industry collaboration towards recovery is encouraging.

Karen: Really encouraging, I agree, and hopefully this will mean new business coming in sooner rather than later. Are you still dealing with cancelations? 

Hanna: Yes. We are working with clients through this unique and challenging time and are prioritizing the health and safety of our guests and colleagues, for when we can meet again, very soon.

Karen: What are your three personal essentials at home to get through this?  

Hanna: Daily FaceTime calls, a solid takeout meal once a week and my Jo Malone diffuser.

Karen: All great tools to keep one’s sanity. What else are you doing from wellbeing, mental health perspective? 

Hanna: Cooking and trying out new recipes, while dreaming of new travel destinations. And more recently, baking has been so relaxing – specifically kneading dough!

Karen: It is interesting to know how many people have rediscovered a passion for cooking and baking during this time. They are definitely creative pursuits to help ease the mind and keep some sort of balance. Is there any book or series you are reading or watching currently that makes you happy? 

Hanna: Setting the Table by Danny Meyer – insightful and I’ve always admired his work in the hospitality industry.

Karen: He is certainly a role model in our industry and has done a great deal for our city. I know he is also on the committee to reopen New York City, so we are all looking forward to knowing more on how that is best going to be accomplished. What is the first place you are going to go after the travel restrictions have eased? 

Hanna: Southern California to see my family – namely, my baby nephew! I’ve also been putting off a road trip and am looking forward to driving along the coast of California.

Karen: A road trip along the coast sounds idyllic right now. I hope you get to see your family and nephew very soon - I imagine you may not have yet met your nephew.

Thank you, Hanna, for providing us with all these insights. I look forward to seeing you again in person soon! Have a good rest of your day.

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