I joined IHG as a Front Office Assistant with ambitions to provide impeccable customer service to ensure each guest’s stay is memorable. After nine years and six promotions, the Director of Rooms asked me, “what do you aspire to be?” My answer: a General Manager. That’s when he suggested I apply for the IHG Future Leaders Programme, a scheme designed to propel your career forward and prepare you for a senior management role. He believed in me and supported me throughout the interview process. I was inspired to discover what else I was capable of.
Three years on, I’m now Director of Club InterContinental and Guest Experience for InterContinental Singapore. I gained extensive experience during my first nine years at IHG, but by embarking on the Future Leaders Programme, I was able to accelerate my career and experience business functions outside of Rooms Division to formulate my long-term career plan.
Learning New Things, Every Day
Now, even with a total of 12 years’ experience at IHG, I still learn something new every day – especially since starting the Future Leaders Programme. I’ve been exposed to responsibilities such as supporting the Director of Rooms in driving our function, managing stakeholders and improving my financial acumen. This was particularly insightful as I’ve learnt how to create a story from numbers and reports – a skill I otherwise wouldn’t have developed. My colleagues have also played a huge part in my journey – they are supportive and challenge me to think differently.
Over the years, I’ve attended countless workshops to continue my development and share new ways of thinking with my team. IHG provide all Future Leaders with access to MyLearning, an online platform where I have hundreds of training courses at my fingertips. When I have free time, I find a comfortable spot and explore the different courses to see not only how I can develop myself, but what I can learn to support my team’s development. Alongside these more formal growth opportunities, I’ve also received on-the-job training from my General Manager and Line Manager. They’ve given me room to grow and have helped me to tackle every task sent my way.
RISE-ing to the Top
Each year, IHG runs an initiative called RISE – a programme designed to encourage women to step up and establish the skills needed to take on leadership roles in their future. On the programme, each of the 28 selected participants are partnered with a female senior leader who becomes their mentor, with the aim to grow them into future General Managers. All applicants have to be recommended to the programme by their General Manager – these recommendations are highly sought-after. Much to my disbelief, I received an email from my General Manager suggesting I apply… I was both thrilled and honoured.
I can proudly say that my application was successful and I was selected to join the programme. I have since been partnered with an incredible mentor who empowers me every day to develop further, not only for work, but so that I achieve my personal goals too. This mentoring relationship has helped me to identify what I need to focus on, as well as helping me realise what I currently excel at and can push even further. In Singapore, there are four RISE participants. We decided to set up a group within our hotel to gather other female leaders in a space where we can share our experiences and support each other as a community. I’ve taken so much from this initiative and have already applied my learnings to my daily work and within my team.
Making Every Stay Special
Everyone at IHG is encouraged to create a personal development plan that is constantly updated. It’s important to keep yourself on track and seek the opportunities you need to progress. As Director of Club InterContinental and Guest Experience, my team are responsible for ensuring we’re driving the highest possible guest satisfaction. Our hotel is located near a hospital, so we sometimes have guests staying who are preparing for an operation. A lot of our other clientele are couples or families who are celebrating special occasions. By getting to know our guests, we are able to improve our services by finding out what would make their stay particularly memorable. In some cases, I’ll work closely with the pastry and culinary team to create a special menu or dessert to enhance a particular guest’s stay.
To ensure I am able to obtain these cross-functional collaborative opportunities, I am involved in frequent high-level conversations where I have exposure to information that will help my team succeed. I also stay in constant contact with HR to find out what upcoming training courses are available. If I speak up about what I want to learn and how it will benefit my work, IHG will provide the right training opportunities. I recently wanted to learn more about how to deal with difficult conversations – I highlighted this to HR and was sent on a course. The skills I learnt were immediately beneficial.
Succeeding on the Future Leaders Programme
The Future Leaders Programme is designed to help you become the best version of yourself whilst you develop the skills needed to become a future business leader. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities I’ve had over the last 12 years and I am thankful for all the challenges, advice and encouragement I’ve received along the way. I’ve learnt a lot from my IHG career so far, but I know that there is still much more to come and I can’t wait to see what my future holds.
Want to work for a company that’ll help you to achieve your dreams? Find out more about #LifeAtIHG here.