Although he’s been in the business for years, Didier Obeuf’s newest post is a unique and exciting challenge.

The new vice-­president of Operations at the Montreal­-based Groupe Germain, Didier Obeuf (pictured), has a plethora of positive words to describe the culture of the company he joined this spring.

“I’m enjoying the transition,” says the 53­-year­-old Toulon, France­-born hospitality veteran. “There’s a lot of willingness, energy and bright minds here.”

Groupe Germain, which currently operates five Hôtel Le Germain and two Alt brand properties in Quebec, Toronto and Calgary, is expanding throughout the country, and, with great expansion comes the need for a larger, dedicated team of players committed to enhancing the company’s long-­held people-­oriented mandate.

“We needed someone with experience,” says Chris­tiane Germain, Groupe Germain co­-president. “[Obeuf] was with Accor for years; he saw it grow, so he knows what a growing company goes through.”

The company is currently scouting potential sites for new Germain brands, with four Alt locations already locked down — in Toronto, Halifax, Winnipeg and Montreal — and construction on a Toronto Airport property already underway. Expansion aside, Obeuf’s new position doesn’t only offer an opportunity to oversee growth but a chance to immerse himself in a job — and culture — that intrigues him. “It’s the brand’s reputation, the entrepreneurship and the managing of people rather than the assets,” he explains.

Obeuf began his hotel career as a bellman at the four­-star Hôtel Byblos St­Tropez in France more than 30 years ago and says the sense of community inherent in the industry intrigued him. After leaving to work in asset management at Accor, Obeuf, who became a Canadian citizen in 1991, felt he needed a posi­tion that promised a more personal touch.

“Asset management is about the value of assets and increasing [them],” he explains. “Operations is about people and leadership — it’s exciting. Every day is different. It’s about making a business profitable and keeping people motivated.”

Since joining the company in May, Obeuf has focused on transitioning Groupe Germain to becoming a bigger player. And, although some structural change is necessary, the focus is on raising and nurturing a growing entity, not shifting its core principles. “We’re developing and reaching a critical stage,” he says. “We need to focus on succession planning. We’re going to need more structure, especially as we develop in other provinces. I want to bring value and ensure the new hotels are successful.”

Fortunately for Obeuf, the ship he’s steering is far from sinking. “The company is doing well,” says Germain. “We’re healthy and not changing the focus or concept of Hôtel Germain.”

“Our main project is our [upcoming Alt] opening at Pearson Airport,” he says. “We want the right staff, a good opening plan and all the nuts and bolts in place.”

As for whether or not Obeuf has any special plans for the brand, he and Germain say it’s too early to tell what the future may bring. However, Germain is confident the brand will benefit from Obeuf’s presence. “His personality makes him a good fit,” she says. “He has a sense of people and knows what to do when.”

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