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05/01/2019 Vanessa Lannou

Building Supportive Relationships while Becoming A Future Leader at IHG

Whether it’s helping a customer find the perfect pillow, greeting everyone with a friendly smile, or ensuring the all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast is maintained – the elements that go into making a hotel stay perfect are endless. There are numerous functions involved in making a hotel run smoothly – and much more goes on behind the scenes to ensure every customer’s expectations are exceeded.

This industry has always intrigued me, leading me to study International Hospitality Management at Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne. At the end of my degree, I set out on a mission to secure a graduate position with one of the leading multinational hospitality companies. This is when I came across InterContinental Hotels Group’s (IHG) Future Leaders Programme, which focuses on giving graduates the training, development, support and travel opportunities needed to succeed. I haven’t looked back since.

Check in to Training: Carving my Career Path with IHG’s Support

My managers at IHG have been open and supportive from my very first day. These two qualities were particularly crucial, when at the end of the programme, I decided I wanted to move from Hotel Finance to Human Resources. I felt comfortable discussing this with my manager and the programme lead, who encouraged me to secure my dream role within IHG. With my manager’s support, I was able to transition to the regional Human Resources team at the IHG Corporate office, moving into Learning and Development. My transition between functions was seamless, and the continuous support I’ve received is testament to how the business will help you to drive your own career and give you room to grow. 18-months on from the Future Leaders Programme, I’m now the Learning & Development Infrastructure Manager for the Europe, Middle East, Asia and Africa (EMEAA) region.

But, let’s go back to the beginning – I started out in the company as an IHG Future Leader in Finance, working in the InterContinental London Park Lane hotel where I assisted with deep dive projects into the hotel’s finance reports as well as with the month-end closing process. I quickly began to upskill my technical and leadership capabilities. The training I obtained on the programme prepared me to take on any challenge put in my way, while taking a team on the journey with me. A key aspect of the programme focused on studying different styles of learning, where I gained the knowledge needed to analyse individual learning preferences. This has meant that as a manager, I am now able to give my team the guidance, support and space they need to improve and perform at their best. These leadership competencies have been invaluable to my career to date, and have helped me to build strong relationships and a successful, cohesive team.

Check in to Travel: Spreading the IHG Spirit

As well as technical skills, the Future Leaders Programme equipped me with countless transferable skills. During the programme, I was offered the unique opportunity to travel to Delhi to take part in a two-week project focused on women's empowerment with the non-governmental organisation, Tender Heart. I spent time working with women who were learning crafts, which they could make a living from in their communities. Tender Heart also runs a school for local children, where I assisted in teaching English, and spent time drawing and playing with the children. This was an eye-opening experience and was beneficial for me both professionally and personally as it pushed me to develop new tactics to deal with different challenges.

The international opportunities haven’t stopped there for me. Last year, I helped to organise an internal learning event for 130 participants in Portugal, who came from seven hotel brands across 20 different countries. The event was a great success and created a unique learning experience for each attendee. This event was possible thanks to the solid foundation formed during my Future Leaders experience, as I have been trained to liaise with multiple stakeholders and manage expectations to drive projects forward.

Check in to Development: We are One Team

The networking opportunities available throughout the Future Leaders Programme have also set me up for a successful long-term career. I’ve worked on many cross-functional projects where I’ve collaborated with different teams and hotels across the world. At the beginning of the programme, I took part in rotations throughout the hotel, where I experienced life in housekeeping, front office and engineering. Learning about other teams’ priorities and realities has certainly helped me to develop a holistic perspective of IHG, and I’ve formed working relationships with colleagues across the company, both in hotels and at corporate. This is a key aspect of working at IHG: we work together as one team across the globe to understand the bigger picture and drive results, together.

Since I completed the Future Leaders Programme, I’ve travelled a lot. In my current role, I’m quite heavily involved in recruitment, and have been fortunate enough to travel across Europe to Paris, Berlin, Puerto and Moscow for recruiting events. Also, as my team is split across the UK and Singapore, I now travel to Asia a few times each year to provide my colleagues with face-to-face support. This means that I frequently stay in IHG’s hotels. I always take the time on my visits to connect with the staff. We are one company, whether you’re part of HR or housekeeping, we all have the same mission – to deliver True Hospitality to everyone. Hotels are at the core of our business and, most importantly, it is our hotel colleagues who deliver the guests’ experience each and every day. It’s important for me to connect with my hotel colleagues as often as possible to understand where I can offer support and see how we can work together as one team.

Check in to Support: Life after the Future Leaders Programme

The Future Leaders Programme at IHG is just the beginning of a career that will expand over many years. The more you put in, the more you’ll get out. IHG will help you to progress, but it’s important to remember that this is your journey, you own it and have the power to drive yourself forward, with a lot of support along the way!

I am now a functional leader who guides current Future Leaders as part of my role in Learning & Development for the Europe, Middle East Africa and Asia region. True to its name, the programme definitely set me up to become a Future Leader, and I thrive on helping the next generation start their adventure at IHG.

Do you want to work for a company that will support your career aspirations and support you every step of the way? Discover what #LifeAtIHG really means, and explore career opportunities here.

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