We need to invest our time into making the world a better place to live in. Creating organisations which are a joy to work for and to interact with is one way of improving our lives collectively. So, don’t lose time with my presentation.
But in this world, people are asking for credentials, so here we go!
German born (sorry for my less than perfect English, but I hope that the quality of contents outweighs the formal failures), having lived more than half of my life in the Americas and in Spain and working on assignments in other parts of the world, I learned one thing: regardless of the culture and ethnic origin, people want to be treated with respect and common sense. This simple and pretty obvious statement and the systematic failure of “service companies” to deliver these super basic “features” started to intrigue me since my very first days in my professional life.
I have served (I hope so!) as strategic advisor to several European and Latin American airlines, a couple of times as the CEO/deputy CEO at regional airline turnarounds, as a customer service think-tank leader for a major airline, as crisis communications director with IATA, and so on. I started up a couple of successful enterprises (e.g., I co-founded Spain’s principal 3D animation movie producer and Oscar nominee Kandor Graphics, now co-owned by actor Antonio Banderas) and one tremendously unsuccessful company (a few lessons learned there, too, particularly about the importance of being humble…).
I have an obsession for understanding the root causes of what is going on, I am passionate about serving people and I absolutely love adventuring into unknown territories and to create new landscapes there. Therefore, I had no choice but making a science from the crossover of my obsessions and passions: design, lead and manage new Customer Experiences from a strategic perspective!
This is supported also by my academic background (not really planned from day one, but later the apparently divergent pieces fell into quite coherent places): I was introduced to the vast and impressive world of Theology and Philosophy by the Jesuits at their faculty in Granada (Spain). Wow, they are great teachers of knowledge and wisdom! I owe them a lot. A decade and a couple of non-clerical jobs later, I entered the airline industry “by design” as I took the MBA in Aviation Management at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida. What a great way to acquire a deep knowledge about the airline industry in only a couple of years! And last, but not least, there is the ESADE senior management and leadership programme. Despite being an avid reader of business books and a follower of the latest business tendencies applied to my different jobs, these guys from Barcelona provided me with a surprising wealth of new insights into the science and art (sic!) of senior management.
What else? I love history. Understanding complex systems of influence and power, learning from historic leadership examples and following the traces of heroes who lived ahead of their time, but ultimately were the canary who announced revolutionary changes to come soon is a permanent source for deep satisfaction. And it is amazing how much the history of a company or organization resembles the history of mankind.
And yes, I did what “every man needs to do during his lifetime”: I wrote a book. Not about the airline or hospitality business nor about Customer Experience Leadership (although I have a plan for that one, too), but about history. It’s about Sophie Scholl and the White Rose, an incredible story of how a small group of young students with firm convictions and a clear (implicit) cooperation model managed to seriously stand up against the Nazi regime. Ultimately they were executed, but the values they defended survived them. Many lessons to be learned here too: the most important one is that only a company with firm values, an ethical approach to business and social responsibility will be respected by customers, and this is a pre-requisite to creating brand value and loyalty. The book is in Spanish (sorry) and should be available on Amazon shortly, including a Kindle version.
Wow. What happened? I promised credentials, but I gave you a story. Isn’t that more important in an Experience Economy (I had to use that word somewhere )?
BTW, of course, I will always be happy to accept you as a LinkedIn peer to establish a more personal contact. Just search for “Rainer Uphoff” at linkedin.com and pick the one with the airline background (if there are more than one to chose from).
(OTHER EXPERT BLOGGERS TO BE ADDED SOON)