Interview with Bernold Schroder Pan Pacific Hotels Group CEO

The Starting Line speaks to a strong corporate "Brand Ambassador" of Team Singapore and the Singapore Sports Institute, Bernold Schroeder, Chief Executive Officer, Pan Pacific Hotels Group.

Tell us about yourself and your background. How do you stay fit?

It’s been two and a half years since I joined Pan Pacific Hotels Group (PPHG), and it’s incredible to be back in Singapore since the last time I was here in 1991. I lead a great team at PPHG, where we own, operate and develop properties under two iconic brands, Pan Pacific Hotels and Resorts, and PARKROYAL Hotels & Resorts. We have a strong portfolio in Asia Pacific and will be opening flagship hotels in Beijing, Yangon and London in the next few years. In my younger days, I used to be very active and was involved in several sports such as competitive field hockey and running, but when you get older there are good and bad days! After a knee surgery a few years ago, I stopped running regularly and switched to road biking. I have spent many pleasant weekends cycling down the quiet roads around Tuas and Kranji Loop. I also try to incorporate some workout during the week and to am mindful about my diet.

After a tour of the Singapore Sports Institute, you became a strong supporter and “brand ambassador” for Team Singapore – tell us about this and how did this support come about?

It’s been 25 years since the first time I visited Singapore and so much has changed in this beautiful country. Sports has taken on a new significance with a strategic push from the Singapore government and today, there’s an entire industry and community which not just promotes sports, wellbeing, and health, but the development of an entire high performance culture. This is supported by establishment of the Singapore Sports Institute, which is fantastic in terms of scale and its comprehensive facilities. It is very appealing as a self-contained, one-stop centre for the pursuit of sports in a refreshing and inspiring setting. I was impressed by the passion and commitment of the SSI team and strongly support your work to develop Team Singapore.

PPHG CEO Bernold Schroeder

What are the brand values of the Pan Pacific Hotels Group and what are the parallels between the values of Team Singapore in terms of doing things for Significance, Passion and Excellence? 

We have five brand values of which three have particular resonance with the values of Team Singapore. Our first value is  we work better together because we collaborate, share, care about each other and communicate openly with everyone. The second value is we enhance our performance by always aiming higher and not being afraid of making tough decisions. And thirdly, we respect and care for our wider community through being connected and sharing, and we also recognise and value diversity in every way. There is a clear parallel between these three Pan Pacific statements and Team Singapore’s constant strive for Significance, Passion and Excellence. I regard my team as talented individuals, each with their unique talents, and like a coach my role is to help them reach their best by stretching them beyond their comfort zone. At the hotel level the General Manager is the “coach” who has to make the decisions for the benefit of the hotel and his or her team, so my role in this case is to strategise with them and execute the “game plan”.

Arguably the SEA Games and the ASEAN Para Games 2015 was the busiest sporting year for Singapore in recent memory and with the largest contingent of athletes going to RIO 2016 the sports scene is burgeoning – did you manage to attend any events in 2015/2016, and what did you feel was the impact of the games on Corporate Singapore? The wider community? 

Having lived in different parts of the world and in major cities like New York, Bangkok, Shanghai and Hong Kong, I have nothing but praise for Singapore, especially on the flawless execution of major events. It’s this constant endeavour for excellence in the smallest details which leads to success in the biggest events, and this applies not just to the organisers but the numerous volunteers and supporters involved. Besides outstanding execution, I admire the long-term planning and efforts to ensure sustainability around the momentum created by major events. I believe these events will have a lasting impact in Singapore, just like the hugely successful Olympic Park in Sydney, which is now a vibrant venue with a robust calendar of events. Combined with the excellent job which the Singapore Tourism Board is doing with attracting sports events to Singapore, we have become a distinctive tourist destination in the Asia Pacific.  

What steps/things does corporate Singapore need to do to or understand, to take the sporting environment in Singapore to the next level? 

I think Singaporeans are very passionate about sports, and there is a palpable sense of national pride as local talents make their mark on the international arena. This is complemented by a national movement which promotes keeping fit, so the overall sporting environment is very holistic. In my country of birth, Germany, we have this saying, “to jump into the cold water”, which is to get out of one’s comfort zone and sticking it out despite the initial discomfort. This applies to both individuals and corporates, and if we stay hungry, we will continue to grow and take the sporting environment to the next level.

PPHG joined the spexBusiness scheme recently, tell us why a scheme that supports athletes careers is so important to Pan Pac?

Being an athlete is a demanding job. I think it is essential for them to have access to careers which give them a certain flexibility to fit in their training schedules so they can continue to perform in their sport. I believe a supportive environment contributes to maximising potential, and being a Singapore-owned company we are honoured to have the opportunity to contribute to the local sporting community. 

We understand that PPHG has helped provide a chef to cook at the Team Singapore house in Rio – tell us more!

Chef Elson, our senior chef from Pan Pacific Singapore, has designed a menu that features 88 dishes including chicken rice, laksa and mee siam for the Singapore House, a restorative space which provides our athletes with holistic care. These familiar dishes can be comfort food for our athletes while they are away from home. The laksa is especially good although it’s a healthier version, but when the athletes are back, they can enjoy it again at Singapore’s fabulous hawker centres! 

Chef at Rio
Chef Elson with SSI Dietitian, Cheryl Teo in Rio

Last but not least, any thoughts/well wishes for Team Singapore athletes going to Rio? 

I will definitely try to catch as much of it as possible on TV or from the internet. I’m excited to see how Joseph Schooling performs because I’ve been following his career quite a bit, he has been progressing brilliantly, and now seems to have a real chance to come out at the top. I believe it’s more important for people to improve on their personal best, even when that isn’t always reflected on the medal. Being able to represent one’s country is an outstanding achievement and a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I would like to congratulate all athletes in Team Singapore and wish them all the best at Rio!

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