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Star-studded showcase: current and future leaders align at IHG

IHG future leaders

IHG’s Australian and New Zealand based Future Leaders recently had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with the region’s successful alumni – Jan Smits, CEO for Africa, Middle East & Asia (AMEA) and Alan Watts, COO AMEA – on their recent visit to Sydney.

Both earned their leadership stripes in Australia and have worked throughout the global IHG network before taking up their current roles in the Singapore head office, and champion the company’s leadership program which identifies high performance individuals and fast tracks their career to management level.

“Our people are our biggest assets, and the hospitality industry offers an excellent platform for growing and developing young talent,” Smits said.

“I’m very proud of IHG’s Future Leaders program, which helps us identify and invest in dynamic young talent.

“The market in Australia and New Zealand has matured so much that high performing individuals can have a fantastic career with us here. And as a big global company we often export great local talent to other parts of the business – talent from here is particularly sought after in emerging markets.

“For this reason the talent pool and success stories are really strong, placing the region at a great advantage,” he said.

The group of eight completed the 18-month accelerated leadership program in between 2010 and 2013 and have spent the time since out in the field gaining leadership experience at hotels across Australia and NZ.

The group of eight (pictured) completed the 18-month accelerated leadership program in between 2010 and 2013 and have spent the time since out in the field gaining leadership experience at hotels across Australia and NZ. All of them are focused on a career as a GM and are amongst a total of 56 Future Leader team members currently out in the network.

IHG Senior Director Human Resources, Lynda Ugarte, said the retention rate of the program is one of the best in the industry, currently sitting at 85% for the region:

“This is a great reflection of the opportunities available to our Future Leaders who remain dedicated to a business that provides both regional and global opportunities and continued growth and investment in their potential,” she said.

IHG’s COO for Australasia & Japan, Karin Sheppard, also in attendance – herself returning to Australia 12 months ago after working with IHG in both Europe and the Middle East – said this was a crucial time for the industry to grow its talent:

“IHG has a strong pipeline of new hotels set to join the network over the next two years in Australia and New Zealand so it is crucial that we invest in talent to lead our hotels of the future.”

Smits and Watts were in town to lock down final arrangements for the IHG AMEA Learning Event to be held in Sydney at the end of March.

“Sydney is an aspirational destination for AMEA team members across the region and there is much excitement for the upcoming travel to the Learning Event,” Watts said.

“The scope of the event is to further increase knowledge and inspire our General Managers and functional leaders in the business. I can’t think of a better place to host leaders from across 40 countries than a city like Sydney.”

Pictured above at InterContinental Sydney’s Level 31 Club Lounge are Sam Swaffield (Crowne Plaza Auckland), Benjamin Burns (InterContinental Sanctuary Cove), Jillian Bright (InterContinental Sydney), Karin Sheppard, Zak Muysken (InterContinental Wellington), Jan Smits, Brenden Van Blerk (Holiday Inn Old Sydney), Leeahna Johnson (Holiday Inn Cairns Harbourside), Sophia Rodwell (Crowne Plaza Terrigal), Kirra Stott (InterContinental Sanctuary Cove), Lynda Ugarte and Alan Watts.

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