Tomas Johnsson to enrich AIB curriculum with practical operations insights
AIB is very pleased to announce its newest Industry Guest Lecturer, Tomas Johnsson, Chief Operating Officer for the Mantra Group – Australia’s second largest hotel operator with 135 hotels across Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and the United States. Tomas joined Mantra Group in July 2007 as the Executive Director of Operations, and progressing into the role of COO in March 2016. He is responsible for Operations, Sales, Marketing, Revenue, Distribution and Digital functions across the Group.
Tomas has over 25 years of experience in senior management roles in the tourism industry, and is currently on the boards of the Accommodation Association of Australia and The Arts Centre Gold Coast. Prior to joining Mantra Group, he was the Senior Asset Manager for General Property Trust, responsible for its leisure portfolio including Sheraton Four Points Darling Harbour, Ayers Rock Resort and Voyages Resorts. Tomas has also held senior management roles with Mirvac and Rydges Hotels, proving an impressive resume in the hospitality and tourism industry.
Tomas successfully completed his Master of Business Administration (MBA) in 2016 and is also a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. As an Industry Guest Lecturer, Tomas will be sharing his knowledge and experience with AIB students, bringing an invaluable industry perspective to the topic of Operations Management.
Since moving to Australia from his home country of Sweden in 1990, Tomas has worked in hotels all around the country, and has an intimate understanding of the key tourism markets. Back in Sweden, he worked in restaurants, giving him a solid understanding of the hospitality industry and a focus on customer comfort. But whatever the industry, he believes that operations management is the key to excellence. “I always see operations as the engine room in the company,” says Tomas. “You might have your business plan, your strategic plan of where you want to go, but operations management is really about how you get there. This is truly where the rubber hits the road.”
Companies adopting more of a traditionally siloed approach run the risk of not making the most of their operational capacities. Tomas points to the hotel industry as an example. Efficiency demands standardisation, but hotel guests can’t be standardised. The behaviour of guests is really what dictates where the demand is going in the hotel industry, and it’s operations management that Tomas looks to, to solve that challenge.
More generally, Tomas points to the rapid worldwide changes that are occurring as a result of digitalisation and globalisation. Operations, says Tomas, is a slower moving function, and businesses have to be careful that technology doesn’t overtake their plans. Where connectivity and remote operations are beginning to change the landscape, businesses need to be aware of both opportunities and threats.
No matter what the industry, the common thread is an ability to be flexible and adaptive in the face of rapid change. That’s a challenge that needs to be met across a number of strategies, but one that Tomas points to is consulting across the business, rather than just within upper management. Not every idea put forward by employees has to be a game-changer, but as long as it represents gradual improvement, it can lead to a competitive advantage.
“I think most organisations are looking for a way to have a competitive advantage,” says Tomas. “If you can deliver the same or a superior product at a lower cost than your competition, then you can outcompete them generally. It is really about all the little decisions that you make in an organisation – in terms of the processes and the allocation of resources – to drive efficiencies.”
The hotel industry is always evolving, and Tomas makes sure he’s across the latest developments by keeping an eye on the industry and its big players, networking, and reading widely in the business sphere. What’s been the most useful thing for him in keeping abreast of change? Tomas is an advocate of continual learning, “Formal education in the form of an MBA combined with the practical business lessons from senior leadership positions has provided me with a strong platform to face future challenges.”
We’re delighted to welcome this esteemed alumni back as an Industry Guest Lecturer, and hope that his practical operations wisdom helps our current students achieve as much as he has.
Get to know AIB’s Industry Partners and growing team of exceptional Industry Guest Lecturers here.