Kempinski’s luxury innovation

How intrapreneur Emilie Langlois launched a creative incentive to disrupt the field of large-scale hotel brands

the pivotal moment

It was actually Kempinski who discovered THNK first — we enlisted them to conduct some in-company programs that would jumpstart our innovation mandate. I could never have predicated that I would do the full program as a participant, but the in-company program experience felt like such a new beginning.

the challenge

Kempinski Hotels runs 5-star luxury properties in an arena with vigorous and brilliant competition. Despite the intense landscape, we don’t just want to be good. We want to be renowned as a leader in experience innovation. We want to be totally in tune with our environment, our people, owners, and guests. Without innovation, our business would die. We’ve embraced a state of disrupting — we are rethinking our business model entirely, in addition to our relationships — everybody from suppliers and partners, to designers and guests.

the THNK experience

If you’re not part of a creative movement, it’s hard to enter into the vibration of innovative work. At Kempinski, we came to THNK for their in-company program as a group — we knew we needed concrete expertise in innovation tools, and in how to mandate a company-wide commitment to creativity. Returning to the full program as a participant, I gained access to new frameworks for thinking and idea-making. I have a way forward, a roadmap. It doesn’t matter how you enter that movement — for us, THNK was the way. As a group, we had an extraordinary experience. Personally, THNK is a roller coaster like I’ve never experienced before. As a participant, I felt so constantly moved and so touched all the time — intellectually, creatively. It was a shock. Such a good shock.

“THNK was a fast track to the right kind of maturity.”

I was not anticipating that I would be shaken in so many ways. The THNK experience goes by so fast… by the time I was interacting with my classmates and the tools — engaging with full creativity — it was over. I wished it were longer. I had headaches at the end of the day because I was using my brain like I have never before. The debates were so interesting, and the groups so dynamic. One more week would have been total bliss. That said, THNK never really ends — these relationships, this circle of creators, will last forever.

what ‘better’ means: post-THNK

My time at THNK helped me to understand that I can be a leader, not just a strong number two. But at THNK, I learned I could create and experience so much joy by having the capacity to make the change I wanted to see. At THNK, I grew up. THNK was a fast track to the right kind of maturity.

“Interestingly, it takes quite a momentous effort to stay the same.”

Not knowing what’s going to happen is the state we’re in when we’re growing. Change comes no matter what! If you resist, you’ll just be directionless. Change will happen in any case. So get on board with it, and be intentional. That is what THNK has encouraged me to do.



The official Medium publication for THNK School of Creative Leadership. We give you important leadership tips, innovation insights, and impact stories from our community.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
THNK School of Creative Leadership

We design & facilitate transformational learning experiences for leaders to develop the mindsets & skills to solve the world's biggest challenges.