Q&A with Jenny Atkinson, VP Global Talent Resourcing, IHG

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Joined IHG 10 years ago as VP HR UK&I before taking a 5 years international assignment as VP HR India, Middle East and Africa.
Has 20 years experience of HR in the hotel and leisure sector. Passionate about talent attraction, development and employer brands in global, branded organisations. Proud to have a track record of delivering value and people initiatives that are aligned to strategic business priorities.
Motto for live is “One life, live it” and that about sums it up. A Mancunian, horse lover, dog lover and food and drink freak with huge amounts of energy and enthusiasm.

QA recent report by the Korn Ferry Institute has found that many current leadership teams in the travel, leisure and hospitality industry lack experience in different industries, functions, sectors or geographies, and that companies need to cross-fertilise with more external talent, to avoid becoming stagnant and insular. Do you agree? And do IHG try to source talent from outside the hospitality industry?

In general yes I would agree, however IHG recognised this fact a few years ago and we’ve actively focussed on bringing in top talent from outside the sector. As a well regarded FTSE 100 company we’ve had great success in attracting talent from other well recognised branded global organisations such as Diageo, Tesco, Proctor & Gamble. Having a mix of senior talent with the right blend of regional/global capability is certainly supporting on our continued success and healthy growth ambition and gives a good balance to our senior leadership thinking.

QTo what extent do you use predictive analytics to assist you in talent recruitment? Do you think increased data analysis is the key to simplifying HR processes in general?

This is an area that we recognise needs more focus and thought and we certainly haven’t “cracked it” yet. Data analysis relies on being able to have access to the right data from reliable sources. IHG is currently investing a significant amount of time and money to improve this area and in June 2014 we will go live with the first phase of automating our HR process’s and transforming our HR model to give line managers the ability to have access to their own data, manage and report on people data and become more self reliant. This will then free up HR to focus on value add initiatives.

QWhy do you think the hotel industry has got such a good reputation for recruiting and having a strong employer brand. Can you tell us about any creative social recruitment strategies you have put in place?

The hotel sector is exciting and vibrant and with the growth of hotel brands has, over the past 5-7 years become a far more attractive career option for talent. The use of social media in recruitment has great potential and is key focus area for IHG. We’ve put in place a much more joined up approach across the company to social media and how we use it and this includes careers not just guest attraction. We’ve recently launched our IHG social media ambassador programme which is designed to encourage our existing colleagues to tell their story and share it on social media using #LifeatIHG.

QHow are you ensuring your EVP lives up to a successful employer brand campaign? How do you measure it’s effectiveness?

The IHG commitment and our Winning Ways are central to our employer brand and EVP. We make a promise to all our colleagues that they will have Room to have a great start, Room to grow, Room to be involved and Room for you…. as it’s a promise we have to deliver on it so all our people activities are designed to ensure we follow through and we measure it through our well embedded Engagement survey and the questions we ask twice a year to all 350,000 colleagues around the world.

QHow does your organisation make sure your employees are engaged with the brand internally? Would you involve any of the following: discussing the brand in team meetings, social media, showing corporate TV ads, brand ambassadors? How do you encourage storytelling?

See answer to Q3 above. Because we build our employer brand in to all communication activity it’s always on the agenda, for instance, as part of our performance management process all colleagues are reviewed annually as to how they have delivered against our winning ways (company values) and the language of our winning ways is how we speak on a day to day basis.

What’s next?

You can hear about these topics and many more at our next HR Vision conference.

HR Vision is the elite, boutique style event, where HR leaders gather to discuss core business strategy.

Visit www.hrvisionevent.com to discover the next upcoming conference date and venue most suitable to you.


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