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Global experience, local leadership

Ute Sauter

Ute Sauter

August 28, 2023

reading time

10 min

Ute Sauter has been working as Head of Reception and Hotel Specialist at Zollikerberg Hospital since May 2023. Find out how she enriches Zollikerberg Hospital with her international expertise and what her responsibilities are here.

Dear Ute, you have already worked in many different countries. Can you give us an overview of your previous professional experience?

Yes, that's right! I've worked in a total of seven countries so far. It started right after my hotel management training in Germany, when I went to Vienna to gain my first work experience. I worked in Purchasing at the Hilton there. However, I really missed the customer contact, so after a year I decided to build on my training and study hotel management. During my studies, I had the unique opportunity to work in the public restaurant at the "House of Switzerland" during the Olympic Games in Beijing. That was of course a very special experience. As the medal ceremony for the Swiss athletes was held at the House of Switzerland, I also had the opportunity to get up close and personal with Roger Federer during this time.

After further stops in Malaysia and London, I went to Dubai for a management training programme. I spent a total of 2.5 years in Dubai. It was a very formative and exciting time, during which I learnt a lot about different cultures and made friends for life. But when I was offered a job as a front office manager in St. Moritz, it was clear to me that the time had come to return to Switzerland! I had known since I was a teenager that Switzerland would be the centre of my life at some point. After an intensive and instructive time in a seasonal business, I finally came to Zurich after 1.5 years because I missed the city a little.

I worked here for Candrian Catering AG for a long time, initially as Revenue Manager for 6 different hotels. These included a 5-star hotel in St. Moritz and various 3- and 4-star hotels in the city. I then spent the last three years working as a hotel manager for three of the hotels in Zurich and Winterthur.

You've been with us at Zollikerberg Hospital since May 2023. What do you particularly like here?

It's simple: the people I get to work with here and the values they live by. It's great how quickly I've been accepted into the "Spital Zollikerberg" community. I am trusted by my line manager, I am supported by my colleagues and deputies and I am offered assistance. The staff clearly enjoy the fact that I'm there to "look after" them. I've already been able to make a difference in the short time since May - that's a great feeling!

What is part of your role as Head of Reception and Hotel Operations Manager?

Generally speaking: to ensure the well-being of the patients and at the same time create a good working atmosphere for my employees. Of course, this is organised slightly differently in the two departments of Reception and Hospitality. At reception, a large part of my work involves providing employees with the necessary environment, ensuring that they know what is "going on" in the hospital and that they adhere to the given guidelines. I also oversee the recruitment process from A to Z (scanning applications, inviting candidates, drawing up contracts, induction) and am also allowed to organise fun events such as the team outing.

As I am "only" a specialist manager in the hotel business, things are a little different here: recruitment is carried out by the ward manager, with my deputy or I providing advice. In order to ensure the professional quality on the wards in the hotel industry, I have to spend a lot of time travelling around the individual wards, accompanying the staff and seeing if there are any weak points or potential for improvement.

What is the best thing about your job?

I have the freedom and opportunity to make a difference and thus improve the lives of others. At the same time, I can make a contribution to ensuring that Zollikerberg Hospital is successful as a company, remains successful and perhaps even becomes more successful.

What does a typical working day look like for you?

I usually arrive at the hospital reception at 7.30 am. Then I start by getting an overview of what's going on and whether anything unusual has happened during the night. I then like to walk around one of our 5 wards to see if there is anything special in terms of hospitality. I usually have my first meeting at 9.00 a.m., for example to discuss new developments or inform colleagues about changes. In between, I do administrative tasks such as writing rosters, checking employees' hours and preparing team meetings. Sometimes I also conduct job interviews for reception or the hotel business. I meet colleagues for lunch between 12 and 1 pm. Afterwards, I visit the wards again and then prepare for my "daily briefing" at reception. All reception staff come together for 15-20 minutes for this. I inform them about news and they can tell me what's on their minds and where they see potential for improvement. I then sit down again with my deputy from the hotel business for an update from her. There's usually another email or two that I have to deal with and then it's already 4.30 pm again and my working day is drawing to a close.

What do your colleagues say about you?

  • She's doing well and has great social skills.
  • Since she's been here, there's been structure and new rules at reception.

Of course, that doesn't always go down well with everyone. But on the whole, I think my employees are happy with me.

What is your tip for keeping a good mood at work?

Not to take yourself so seriously and try to see the positives. And if you can't see it at first glance: look for it!!! There are always two sides to everything and you can choose which one you want to see.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I recently bought my first motorbike and now try to use the summer for rides. Since I've been at Zollikerberg Hospital, I've also joined the gym here and work out twice a week after work. I think this is a great benefit for us employees here. But I also enjoy being out and about after work: whether it's going out for a meal or a drink with colleagues, to the cinema or the opera, or getting to know Switzerland even better on short city trips at the weekend.

Portrait photo of Ute Sauter

Ute Sauter

Head of Reception and responsible for the hotel business

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