Immediate past General Manager of the Transcorp Hilton Abuja, Frenchman Andre´ Herrenschmidt has chosen to “be an ambassador of Nigeria” for the rest of his life, defending the great opportunities which abound here and the great future ahead, despite current challenges. He was speaking at an elaborate send forth ceremony in his honour, where he symbolically passed the giant Hilton key to his successor, Etienne Gailliez, a Belgian.
Herrenschmidt came to the Abuja Hilton seven and a half years ago to do a 2-year stint but fell in love with the country and spent some the most eventful years of his life here, meeting and working with different Chairmen from Prince Olusola Akanmode who he said “piloted the major refurbishment of the hotel” through privatization by Prof. Ndi Okereke to the likes of Tony Elumelu (who is back on the Chair with Valentine Ozigbo), Tom Iseghohi, Femi Otedola and Otunba Funsho Lawal.
His tenure also saw the Hilton where he says, “you meet the world,” hosting so many key global players among them the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the FIFA Under -17 Football World Cup, the Africa-South American Summit the Aso Rock Ville Banquet for the 50th Anniversary of Nigeria (which he considers the highpoint), besides having Bill Gates and Bill Clinton put up in its luxurious suites.
Herrenschmidt, who says he will mostly miss Nigerians for their sense of humour, said his family loved and enjoyed their stay here, so much so that his son mastered the Nigerian Pidgin English and is now teaching it to his Nigerian friends in Europe!
He said he would also miss the over 1000 members of the Hilton team whose incredible energy and enthusiasm he used to good advantage. The Hilton Opera which he helped nurture gave him a wonderful parting performance.