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03/19/2019 Lauranna Gardey

The Future Leaders Programme: What You Need To Know Before Applying

The Future Leaders Programme is one of the most exciting and competitive programmes for those wanting to supercharge their career as a leader in hospitality after university. As an Early Careers Manager for Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG), I’m responsible for deploying graduate initiatives related to the IHG Academy in Europe, Middle East, Africa and Australia. I also have counterparts in Greater China and the Americas. It’s a role in which I’ve met many inspiring people from different cultures and one that I love doing every day.

Coaching and Mentoring Support

The Future Leaders Programme is designed to offer world-class support, training, development, and, depending on your placement, the chance to travel. To me, what makes the programme stand out is the support available from start to finish and beyond. When you join us, a General Manager will be dedicated to your development as a personal career mentor. Additionally, you will be assigned a hotel leadership team member, an expert in your area of specialisation as your coach, and a line manager - all of whom will support you through the day-to-day, whether that be leading your team or delivering on the operational needs of your department.

An accelerated programme can demand a lot from an individual as you are required to learn and operate in a fast-paced environment. However, with the IHG Future Leader Programme, support is number one. Your network will be there from the very beginning, offering their own hospitality experiences as a way to help you learn, while also ensuring you recognise and celebrate your successes - big or small - as you go. Our General Managers are hand picked to guide Future Leaders because of their track record of exceptional hotel leadership and talent advocacy. They will open doors and identify opportunities, for example, inviting you to industry events or offering introductions to others to grow your own industry network. Here, at IHG room to grow is part of our promise and for this programme that’s all about creating opportunities to support future leadership in the hotel business.

Personality Is The Most Important Factor

Hotels have incredible operating systems. With multiple departments from maintenance to concierge, our hotels are filled with passionate colleagues working around the clock to deliver a seamless guest experience aligned to IHG’s ‘True Hospitality for everyone’ mission. It’s important that candidates show their commitment in helping us on our mission. Broadly speaking, what we’ll ask ourselves when meeting a candidate is: do they have an attitude that suits an industry in the business of delivering great hotel stay experiences - and all the joy and challenges that come with it? Have they demonstrated leadership qualities and skills in building relationships? Do they show strong business acumen and a passion for service and people?

Here, I’ll be offering a few tips on how applicants can best prepare for the Future Leaders graduate opportunity with us, while also touching on what they can expect from the programme.

Tip 1 - Show You Match Our Service Culture

At IHG, we’re looking for people who can reflect our True Hospitality service behaviours to ensure we deliver consistent service all over the world - that includes True Attitude, True Listening, True Responsiveness and True Confidence. Along with thinking about IHG’s service behaviours, remember to research the hotels you’re going to apply for and ask yourself what about the property resonates with you the most. What is the grand entrance, the family friendly feel, the history of the building or the rooftop onsen and spa? Bring that forward in your interview.

Tip 2 - Show How You’ve Handled A Real Situation

A typical question we might ask is how you’ve handled a difficult situation, or how you’ve shown your strengths in a team - and what you did to prove those strengths. This question is often answered by a candidate giving a brief overview of a university project, without much detail. We want a little more than that.  What challenges did you face? How did you overcome them? How did you approach the task in a creative way? And most important of all -  what did you learn from this situation that you’d apply to your next project? The key is in the detail Hint: Look up behavioural-based interview questions on Google. This should help you prepare!

Tip 3 - Expect To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Future Leaders are given operations and people management duties from very early on. This entails a variety of responsibilities, from setting performance expectations and giving feedback to leading the team and delivering daily operations for their department. A Future Leader experience is not about shadowing, but about taking the lead. You’ll oversee budgets and the execution of tasks in a hotel setting, for example, designing and launching a new bar menu. In a case like this, you might be asked to have consultation with the hotel leaders to understand target guests, analysis of cost, menu design, sampling, marketing, launches and the assessment of performance against guest experience and revenue. Now that’s a challenge. We want to know you are ready and up for the challenge!

A Worthy Graduate Programme

When it comes to your video application and an interview at a later stage, it’s all a matter of how you translate your learnings into solutions. In this accelerated leadership programme, there are a few key qualities we require. We’re looking for clear and confident communicators who can demonstrate a proactive attitude, skills in relationship-building, and a true passion for hospitality, service and people. We want you to show us how you’ve demonstrated initiative and that you thrive on a challenge. Remember to tell us in what ways your experience reflects our True Hospitality service culture. All of our Future Leaders deserve to have an stimulating and successful early career with us, so it’s important to know which attributes we look for early on, and what to expect when joining.

Ready to start your Future Leaders programme with us? Learn more here.

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