Assistant manager Yin Sochen (left) with Soria Moria founder Kristin Holdo Hansen and community outreach program manager Sam Sokha. The trio will be going to Oslo for a week in June on a partner visit. Photo by MIRANDA GLASSER
Two Khmer employees from Soria Moria Boutique Hotel will relocate to Norway for a year in September, as part of an innovative new job swap scheme orchestrated by hotel founder Kristin Holdo Hansen.
Hansen conceived the employee exchange program as part of preparations for the eventual handover of Soria Moria to Khmer staff.
We’re in the process of handing over management to the local staff and in the future, the whole ownership of the hotel, and I’m always looking for ways to train them and help them to improve,” says Hansen. “Some of the challenges are that they don’t have any international experience yet, so I’ve been trying to find a way to get training opportunities.”Norwegian Hansen contacted various hotels in Norway and eventually partnered with new Oslo-based hotel, Quality Hotel Expo, which shares some of Soria Moria’s social responsibility ideals. Starting in September, two Soria Moria employees will move to Oslo while two staffers from Quality Expo will come to Siem Reap. The scheme will run for three years initially meaning six Khmer employees will take part. Although the obvious advantages might seem to be for the Khmers, Hansen is keen for both parties to benefit from the exchange.“The Norwegian employees should come and learn something from us,” says Hansen. “It’s not just an aid thing, it should be beneficial for both. Since they’re heavily involved with community outreach projects in the developing world which they don’t really understand much about, it’s a great way for them to come here and see work on the ground.”
“For our employees it’s the other way round. They’re coming from a developing country so they’re going to learn more about certain things like efficiency, new technology systems. But I think most importantly they’ll have the chance to live and work in a western country. Our guests here are westerners, so for them to be able to fully understand it they need to understand the western mindset. And that’s really hard for Cambodians who have never actually travelled.”
Hansen says her staff are all “super excited” about the scheme. Two employees will go for a partner visit in June to enable Soria Moria to see how the other business works, and draw up a learning outcome schedule.
The application process will begin soon, with Quality Hotel Expo making the final selection decision.
“We’ve put in a criteria that those people who go to Norway will have to stay here for two years afterwards,” says Hansen. “Because it’s not only about one person going, but that person needs to come back and bring all the knowledge back and share it with other people.”