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05/02/2019 Zak Muysken

The Future Leaders Programme: Opening A World Of Opportunity

Over the past nine years, I’ve worked for IHG in many different hotels, functions and roles - leading me to a position where I’m able to contribute towards the strategic direction of IHG’s hotels. It’s been a wonderful journey so far - one where I’ve had the opportunity to travel from New Zealand all the way to Singapore and experience hotel leadership in a completely different culture and environment. For me, this journey all began with the Future Leaders Programme, which really delivered on its promise of giving me room to grow in any hospitality setting.

Here, I’ll be touching more on my experiences during the Future Leaders Programme, highlighting the ones that especially helped me develop into the leader I am today.

Being Given The Room to Grow

A leadership graduate programme can seem daunting for anyone - especially if you don’t quite know what you want to do yet. That’s why the Future Leaders Programme offers direct one-on-one mentorship from a General Manager who’s there to support you the whole way through. Once a fortnight, my mentor and I would meet up for a coffee and share experiences, which was incredibly valuable in providing insight from someone who’d really been there and done it all. It was through these meetings, as well as the extended support I received, that I felt encouraged to take on my first management role in Housekeeping - something I didn’t think I would achieve so early on in my hospitality career.

Even though I was initially a little daunted by the idea of starting this role in housekeeping, the training programmes I underwent ensured my confidence in taking on any position within IHG’s hotels. I was shown how to do every role at every level: room service, looking after public areas, cleaning, supervising, and much more. This gave me a sound knowledge of each function’s specific role in a hotel setting. By the time I came in as an Executive Housekeeper, I felt I had an intimate understanding of each individual’s unique purpose in the hotel. My team’s passion and determination influenced me from my very first day - they inspired me to always strive for greatness.

Having The Freedom To Build My Own Leadership Style

Building your own leadership style is something that comes hand-in-hand with your training. In your training at IHG, you’ll learn how to adapt to working with a range of different cultures and personalities. This training is vital as one leadership style may not translate to different departments and colleagues, so you need to find ways to adapt to different scenarios. This was particularly useful when I was working in housekeeping, since some of their methods were sometimes a little different to mine, I had to find a way to adapt to their ideas and to the environment I was working in. This was a valuable learning curve to experience in my first leadership role.

Contributing to IHG’s Strategic Direction

A few years down the line, and having graduated from the Future Leaders Programme, I’m now experiencing more senior roles that allow me to have an impact on the overall guest experience. In one of my first positions in Singapore, I was tasked with the challenge of creating a guest service concept for the opening of InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay hotel. Here, we took the InterContinental framework and looked at how we would personalise it to our property, ensuring it was implemented from check-in to check-out. We planned a tailor-made experience, starting with a 30-minute meeting to then onboarding 200 IHG colleagues on the service philosophy we’d initiated - a milestone moment in my career development. It was thanks to the invaluable support, mentorship and training of the Future Leaders Programme that I had the confidence and knowledge to develop this.

IHG: The Company to Kick-start Your Career

If you’re looking to climb the hospitality hierarchy quickly and fast-track your development as a hotelier, the Future Leaders Programme is a great place to start. The programme trained me in key functions of hotel departments and allowed me to develop my understanding of what it’s like working in a multicultural team. I was given the supportive environment I needed to take key pieces of advice from my mentor and implement them in my own way. I have been very lucky to travel to different countries and experience our ‘True Hospitality’ promise from a range of perspectives, and I feel that means I bring a holistic and inclusive view to the table - making me a rounded leader who’s proud to work for IHG.

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