HM can exclusively reveal today (Oct 6) IHG‘s Managing Director for Australasia and Japan, Leanne Harwood, is set to relocate to Dubai in November to take up a new post in the United Arab Emirates.

Harwood, who joined IHG in 2005, will become the company’s Managing Director for India, Middle East and Africa (IMEA), suceeding Pascal Gauvin who will retire following a 28-year career with the chain.

Renowned for her vision and energy, Harwood will leave a legacy featuring record years of signings and the biggest year of openings for the Australasia and Japan region. 

During her three years in Sydney as Managing Director for the region, she built longstanding partnerships with owners and industry leaders, which strengthened even further during the 2020 crisis, and made great progress around sustainability, diversity and inclusion. 

OzHarvest CEO & Founder, Ronni Kahn, and IHG Managing Director – Australasia and Japan, Leanne Harwood

In her 15 years with IHG, Harwood has worked in a range of leadership roles, including commercial, operations and sales and in a number of countries, including Australia, Thailand, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

This latest move takes her back to Dubai, where she previously worked in VP Commercial roles for several years.

“It was certainly a tough decision to leave Sydney, but when the opportunity came up to lead the India, Middle East and Africa region, it was one I couldn’t pass up,” Harwood said.

“The past three years has been so invigorating and wonderful and I’m so proud of everything we have achieved together here in Australasia and Japan, including our record growth and the great strides we have made around sustainability, diversity and inclusion.

Harwood says she’s looking forward to the next challenge of her career

“I’ve been so honoured to work with a brilliant team and amazing owners, all of whom have been as committed as we are to the future of our industry every step of the way – especially during this uncertain year.

“Now, the toughest part about the move is saying farewell, and I will dearly miss the experiences and people that make Australasia and Japan so special,” she said.

IHG’s CEO of Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia (EMEAA), Kenneth Macpherson, said the new role was an exciting opportunity for Harwood.

“This is a recognition of Leanne’s many achievements, notably in Australasia and Japan over the past three years,” he said.

Harwood will lead one of the most important regions for IHG in her new role

“As she bids farewell to Sydney, she will leave her successor a strong legacy, featuring record years of signings and the biggest year of openings for the region, which she has achieved thanks to her relationships with you and your confidence in IHG and our brands. 

“I’m proud to say that, through Leanne’s strong advocacy, we have made great strides in both our sustainability and culture, diversity and inclusion agendas. 

“She has given so much of her time to inspire the next generation of leaders and I am confident that our Australasia and Japan team will maintain the momentum of this great work.

“I know Leanne will bring this energy and passion to IMEA, especially as we continue to expand our footprint and focus on recovery and growth across the region,” Macpherson said.

IHG has revealed to HM the company is in the process of appointing Harwood’s successor and, in the meantime, she will continue to support the Australasia and Japan team before taking over full-time in India, Middle East and Africa on January 1, 2021. 

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management