"Join us with little talent and reach the top”: Hilton VP

by Nicola Middlemiss25 May 2015
The VP of HR at Hilton Worldwide has opened up about the difficulties of working in hospitality and he says there’s one thing in particular that businesses must offer their employees if they want to counteract the negative aspects of the industry.

“Hotel work, for lots of reasons – economic and otherwise – isn’t a high paying industry,” admits Ben Bengougam. Luckily, a top-notch salary isn’t the only thing of value to perspective employees.

“We have to deliver career aspiration, mobility and so forth,” says Bengougam, adding that HR professionals in the hospitality field have to leverage the fact that workers want the chance to progress.

“We have to fight harder on that front because we’re often in a position where we can’t compete with other organisations with higher means,” he explains.

Bengougam’s comments came during Careers@Hilton Live: Youth in Hospitality Month, which runs for the whole of May in an array of Hilton hotels around the world. He took to the stage to explain how the hotelier can attract and retain top talent without offering the most impressive financial rewards.

“The premise is you can join us with little talent or skill and you can reach the top,” he said. “We have great examples in the company of people who have joined us as cleaners for example, and have gone on to become managing directors in the organisation.”

He added that moving talent within the business to give people exciting new career opportunities and challenges is the key to talent attraction and retention. Bengougam rebuked businesses that don’t do this and said that even in those that did, there was still room for more talent mobility.

“Even if you do a lot, you probably don’t do enough,” he said.

However, Bengougam warned organisations to be careful about moving people at the right time, particularly where global relocation is involved.

“Maybe we don’t always listen to people enough,” he said. “Sometimes we’re driven by a business imperative that says ‘I really need someone to go and lead my business in South Africa' but they might not be ready.”

“You have to remember that with talent mobility, you go into a world that is not to do with your business but is about family, relationships, what individuals want to do with their lives.” 
 

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