How they got where they are today LO KA-SHUI Langham Hotels International chairman I HAVE A SIMPLE philosophy for getting things done - work hard and try the best you can. You will find it surprising how much can be achieved by focusing on these two principles. To prepare for the day ahead, I start early, usually around 6.30am. I play nine holes of golf and follow that up with a one-hour swim. Swimming is not only a great exercise, it provides an opportunity to think about the day ahead. Playing golf is quite the opposite - it clears the mind because you need to concentrate on the game. My experience as a cardiologist and a nuclear-cardiology researcher has undoubtedly influenced my management style. I am very methodical about the way I approach business and always pay attention to the bigger picture. For example, before deciding to invest in a new project, I carefully analyse the demographics, background and geopolitical situation of a location, the local demand, yield, supply and revenue possibilities. I am not sentimental about our hotels or think of them as a great achievement. I know they are successful and do what they are supposed to do - that is, provide a memorable experience for the guests and a happy work environment for the employees. Having said that, when you own a hotel, you are in a better position to control every aspect of the operation, from the style and quality of service to the bottom line. When the money comes out of your pocket, you want the hotel to be different so that clients perceive it as a unique experience. I also believe it is important to be clear about what you are trying to achieve and to identify the simplest ways to attain that. I am a staunch believer in open communication and in building a strong personnel infrastructure, where everyone is focused on the overall excellence of the company. The firm keeps bureaucracy to a minimum and operates with zero politics, as much as possible. I am convinced this is one of the reasons why we find it easy to attract quality employees. Our hotel employees represent a melting pot of cultures, customs and languages. That requires new visionary and management skills to ensure the business runs efficiently. Bringing together a team of multidisciplined professionals has been a personal challenge and has helped me see the importance of interpersonal skills. I think those I work with appreciate the fact that I do not enjoy long meetings. Office meetings should not last longer than 30 minutes. If they do, the participants have not prepared enough and are therefore wasting time. I am not too keen on flying these days, so I keep my finger on the pulse of day-to-day operations via the internet. I also speak to hotel managers weekly to review the latest occupancy figures.