History has been made at the Accommodation Association, with IHG Hotels and Resorts SVP and Managing Director Australasia, Japan and Pacific, Leanne Harwood, elected as the Association’s first female President.
Elected as part of the Association’s recent member election, Harwood replaces outgoing President and Lancemore Group CEO, Julian Clark, who makes way after seven years at the helm.
Clark said he would continue to work with the Association to ensure a seamless transition both to the new National Council and to help in the amalgamation with Tourism Accommodation Australia.
Harwood brings 25 years’ experience in the hospitality industry to complement her new post, including the past 16 in various roles around the world with IHG.
Additional posts during this time have included two years working with Clark on the Accommodation Association National Council, which followed two years on the Board of Tourism Accommodation Australia.
Speaking of her election, Harwood said she was proud to be stepping in to the role of President during a time of momentous challenge and change for the accommodation sector.
“We are moving into the key stages of the proposed merger with the Australian Hotels Association [and] Tourism Accommodation Association and we need to ensure progress continues in the right direction to drive the best outcomes for our members,” Harwood said.
“We also have the ongoing fight for more government support for our sector to get us through the impact of COVID and we need to make sure that we continue to build the profile of our amazing industry, along with the skills of our people and the workforce needed moving forward,” she said.
Harwood said she was very proud to be the first female President in the Association’s history.
“Diversity, equity and inclusion has been one of the most profound changes in the world of hospitality from when I started out more than 25 years ago,” she said.
“In fact when I started I was told that I wouldn’t make it in operational leadership because I would probably leave to have children.
“I’ve worked hard to drive change from the inside and have chosen to take on increasingly senior leadership roles. In doing so, I hope I’ve played a role in making it easier for future female leaders,” Harwood said.
She thanked Clark for his tireless advocacy and hard work in the role.
“On behalf of the Council and our members, I would like to acknowledge the significant contribution of Julian Clark during his time as President,” Harwood said.
“He can and should be extremely proud of his impact in progressing the evolution of our Association and awareness of the importance and needs of Australia’s Accommodation sector.”
Clark said it had been a privilege to lead the industry over the past seven years.
“I am proud to depart the role with the Association in a very strong place – in terms of advocacy, member benefits, financial strength and general Association strength,” he said.
“I am also proud of the tireless advocacy work that Dean Long and the team have done to try and help our industry throughout this pandemic, which has thrown up challenge after challenge.
“As we all know, there is plenty more to do and the team and incoming Council are ready to continue our all-important advocacy in the months ahead before the full amalgamation,” Clark said.
The move to elect Harwood comes one week after Richard Munro returned to the Association as its new CEO two years after departing from the same role.
“The Council and I will be working closely with Interim CEO Richard Munro to ensure the needs of our members continue to be met and awareness of the critical need for support for Australia’s accommodation providers continues to pick up speed,” she said.
Harwood assumed her new position this week and has commenced in the role.