Bertrand Petyt comes from a long line of scientists. The Monaco resident was expected to follow suit, as well as manage the family business, but after completing a Master of Science in Paris he moved to New York on a whim. “In 1996, I graduated from Long Island University with an MBA in Managerial Finance and that was the beginning of my career in hospitality.”
With persistence, and after a few years of learning the ropes in the American hotel industry (where he found a mentor in his general manager), Bertrand had his first opportunity to pursue his passion in the cruise line industry. “Don’t ask me why, but even as a little boy I can remember looking at cruise ship catalogues and I have collected more than 35,000 cruise brochures from all over the world, from all cruise lines, past and present.”
He says he will always remember joining his first cruise ship, Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ flagship Seven Seas Mariner in Vancouver as a junior officer. “Stepping on the gangway, I cried. The HR manager thought I needed comforting but I told him they were tears of joy as I was living my dream.”
He worked for two cruise lines, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Silversea Cruises (formerly owned by Monegasque Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio), both at sea and on land, in various positions, including corporate HR manager and hotel director. “Cruising the world was amazing and I believe that travelling is the most precious learning experience. I left the industry in 2014 but I still carry that passion and, who knows, maybe one day the sea will beckon me again.”
Bertrand returned to Monaco and became Chief Executive Officer managing the professional assets of a prominent Chinese family established in the Principality. “The family’s wealth came from real estate development but by then Parkview World had become an operator of luxury sites and assets, including hotels, restaurants, yachts, luxury shopping malls, luxury residences and museums.”
In September 2020, Bertrand transformed his knowledge of the hospitality and luxury sectors into Vitruvius Partners Group, a business he launched with his friend Lilian Bougy, first in Paris and, later this year, in Monaco. This game-changing advisory firm with 12 expert advisors and six Business Ambassadors specialises in an externalised Change Management Office solution.
“In short, we offer small- and medium-companies in corporate hospitality the benefit of change management, leadership development and corporate eco-system redesign services, a business format similar to the one of a family-office or a legal firm providing a specific service at a cost-effective price,” explains Bertrand.
Vitruvius Partners Group advises leading organisations on the four dimensions of business change — people, processes, technology and risk control — identifying problem areas and making organisations more responsive to change in their industries and markets, equipping them to take maximum advantage of emerging opportunities.
“Our business model is highly relevant and also innovative in its approach to change but we are not consultants,” he emphasises. “We are expert advisors that bring a wealth of strategic and operational experience, as opposed to only the ability to audit and sell ‘off-the-shelf’ systems like most consulting companies.”
Although the idea of this venture had been brewing for a while, the first Covid lockdown gave Bertrand that final now-or-never push. He decided to leave his secure CEO position and jump into entrepreneurship with the launch of Vitruvius Partners Group.
In the same year, the academic’s Iconic In The Midst Of Chaos was published. “This book was written as an attempt to provide guidance to those who understand that chaos – like what we are experiencing today – can be an opportunity to become iconic. The approach is a very holistic one, albeit based on proven techniques to install great leadership skills in every manager.”
On a personal level, Bertrand reflects that 2020 was a year of empathy as he witnessed most of his friends in the cruise industry affected on so many levels – losing their jobs, stuck on ships for months, separated from families, and a few suicides as well.
“I felt powerless yet during this crisis, I witnessed such kindness, community cohesion and incredible support from colleagues and friends. It produced my motto, “to enable people to tell their true stories so they may inspire greatness in their lives and for others.”
Bertrand admits that when he left Europe in 1994 for the US he never thought he would return to the continent and relocating to Monaco in 2007 was with reluctance based on his experiences as a teenager. “When I was young, Monaco did not have much to offer except for glamour and tourist-oriented activities and it was difficult for a teenager to grow with a sense of what the world had to offer. I would often spend free days in Nice, where I felt more challenged intellectually. Monaco has evolved in a much more dynamic and open way. It is a place of innovation, creativity and education – the International University of Monaco is, in my opinion, a great success story for the country. Monaco is still a village but a vibrant village,” he comments.
Bertrand, whose surname evolved from its Dutch origins Petïjt, is not a natural networker and in a large group you’ll most likely find him in the corner of the room with the people he knows and trusts. “I network for business, mostly online through LinkedIn as it offers access to a wider array of interesting people.” In Monaco, he’s been involved with various associations like Skal Monaco, the Propeller Club and Global Business Owners.
While Bertrand would chalk 2020 up as a success professionally, over the past two months an autoimmune disease has been causing him debilitating inflammation. “Nothing to worry about long term but I could not even open a laptop let alone have the energy to think. I am an extremely positive person but I can tell you that when faced with such pain, your positivity disappears and you discover a darker side of yourself, one that does not allow you to see the future as bright as you should. For the time being, I have had to slow down all my activities and focus on fully recovering my health and energy. I talk about this in my book, how our abilities rely on four pillars – our health, spirit, mental and emotional state.”
Bertrand Petyt adds, “Sometimes life has a way of reminding us how important it is to take care of our bodies. Health is the cornerstone of everything.”