Hospitality Industry
2 min read

How to become a general manager?

EHL Insights
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Meng-Wei Hsu graduated from EHL Swiss School of Tourism and Hospitality in Passugg (EHL SSTH) in 1997 and has been general manager of various retail stores at Cornell University since 2014. We talked to him to find out how to become a general manager after a Swiss Professional Degree (HF).

How does one become a general manager?

There is no traditional training to become a general manager. If one dreams of a job as a general manager, then a course of study will certainly help one to take this path. Particularly suitable are courses that include business components. Social skills and soft skills are also becoming increasingly important for future managers.

But no matter what degree or training you have completed, for the job as a general manager you first and foremost need professional experience, preferably in the industry you are aiming for.

Meng-Wei Hsu gained practical experience as a restaurant manager and then general manager in a casino and various restaurants after completing his hotel management studies at EHL SSTH. This work experience prepared him perfectly for the job as general manager for various F&B retail stores at Cornell University.

What is a general manager?

A general manager presides over a company and represents it to the outside world, even by law. Not only does he take responsibility for the company, he also makes sure that all laws are followed, because he is liable.

Commissioned by the board of directors, he is responsible for the management of all business and ensures that company processes run smoothly.

Read more: General Managers: Bridging the Gap Between Hotel Owners and Operators

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What are the responsibilities of a general manager?

As General Manager at Cornell University, Meng-Wei Hsu is responsible for 18 retail stores with over 500 managers and employees. This includes numerous casual dining operations, as well as all coffee shops, including six Starbucks Coffee operations at Cornell University.

He is responsible for all business operations, including:

  • University Relations
  • Budgeting and financial management
  • New concept development
  • Marketing
  • Human resources
  • Leadership and chef training and development

Read more: The Hotel General Manager: Time for a New Job Description?

We serve approximately 15,000 customers daily, providing Cornell students from around the world with a world-class study and dining experience. We are a significant part of their academic journey, and we've been named one of the top 3 college dining operations in America for the past 10 years.

A great leader, Meng-Wei Hsu is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive environment where people and businesses can advance and grow.

What skills does a general manager need?

Meng-Wei Hsu enjoys meeting the best scholars from around the world and having the honor of fulfilling their daily needs while studying hard at Cornell. In order for him to be successful in his job, he needs interpersonal skills and soft skills every day.

The following competencies and soft skills are important for a general manager:

  • Customer focus
  • Flexibility in difficult situations
  • Professional and friendly demeanor with all stakeholders
  • Communicative skills
  • Empathy when managing staff

Whether you are a General Manager, Restaurant Manager or Hospitality Manager, these are the top 10 soft skills you should master.

Praise and appreciation are very important in human resource management, "Fantastic" is therefore one of the expressions Meng-Wei Hsu uses very often.

Working as a general manager - even abroad - thanks to a hotel management degree

With a degree as Dipl. Hôtelier-Restaurateur HF (new Dipl. Hotelier-Gastronom HF) at the EHL Swiss School of Tourism and Hospitality in Passugg, one can work in many service-oriented jobs worldwide and gain professional experience.

Meng-Wei Hsu has not only enjoyed the beauty of the Swiss Alps and the diversity of Chur's historic architecture. His open-mindedness has laid the foundation for his professional career towards becoming a general manager. He absorbed all impressions at EHL Campus Passugg and worked hard. This is now paying off.

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You want to combine work experience with an education?

With the HF diploma you gain professional experience and a recognized degree at the same time. Afterwards, the doors to many positions in the hospitality industry are open to you, general manager being one of them. Download the brochure to learn more!