Former FCSI Worldwide President Gerhard Kühnel’s area of expertise is analysis and financial acumen. He helps clients to turn their hotel and catering ventures into successful enterprises. Jim Banks finds the success of the numbers man lies in his understanding of people.
Among the many ingredients that make a successful foodservice business the design of the dining space, the kitchen and the menu are essential, but equally important are the financial aspects. During his decades of experience in the hotel and catering industry Gerhard Kühnel FCSI has helped many enterprises get these right. He has helped hundreds of clients develop their businesses by focusing on market research, feasibility studies, design, financial analysis and management.
Kühnel is senior partner of Luxenburger and Partner Unternehmensberatung and managing director of GBS Gastgewerbe Beratungs Service GmbH, based in Düsseldorf. A member of FCSI since 1986, he served as member and then chairman of the European board of trustees and in 2006 began a two-year term as FCSI Worldwide President. All of this is a long way from his childhood dream. „When I was young I wanted to be a teacher. I envied my teachers at school and their importance in the classroom. It didn’t work out, but now I am a management consultant and I teach my clients about running a business. I guide people and help them, so in a way I have become a teacher,“ Kühnel says.
His career encompasses both frontline service and management consulting. After leaving school he chose the vocational path rather than the academic route and served a three-year apprenticeship as a waiter before a stint as a demi-chef de partie. „I got to know the basics of the service industry, so then I applied to work at reception and soon became assistant to the head receptionist, then assistant to the hotel director. I had a break for national service but alter that I wanted to get back into the hotel business,“ he explains.
Kühnel’s career path seems to run in the family, though he did not realise it at the time. „I got married again last year and my best man was my older brother. In his speech he pointed out that we had taken almost exactly the same steps in our careers. He decided to go into the hotel and catering business, so he trained as a waiter. He became assistant manager, met his future wife and decided to go back to university and then he started a consultancy,“ he explains. „We even trained in the same hotel. I went abroad to work in the Grand in Eastbourne, UK, and I met my first wife, who persuaded me to go back to university, after which I started a consultancy in Westfalia. It was not intentional. I did not meant to copy my brother. so perhaps it is just destiny. Perhaps we are doomed – or blessed – to do a particular job in life.“
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