Career development opportunities key in hospitality, says Hilton Worldwide VPHR


Hospitality businesses in particular must offer strong career development opportunities to attract talent, Hilton Worldwide’s EMEA vice-president of HR, Ben Bengougam has told HR magazine.

“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 – hotel work for lots of reasons, economic and otherwise, isn’t a high paying industry,” said Bengougam. “So we have to deliver career aspiration, mobility and so forth.”

His comments come during Careers@Hilton Live: Youth in Hospitality Month, which runs for the whole of May. Hilton Hotels around the world will be hosting events to engage young people, including résumé clinics and career speed-networking. The London Hilton on Park Lane event saw a London Routemaster bus (pictured) tour the capital's streets to offer careers advice to students.

Hilton Worldwide is also hosting a digital ‘Career Concierge’ on its website, which includes a live Twitter Q&A, to provide insight into the industry.

“The premise is you can join us with little talent or skill and you can reach the top,” said Bengougam. “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 key to talent attraction and retention. He stated that businesses often don’t do this enough, and there is always room for more, and more effective, talent mobility.

He said: “We move hundreds of people round the world to different positions all the time. On the one hand you need your talent to move to deliver fresh perspectives, different ideas and to see the excellence across the business. And on the other, if you don’t do it you lose your best people. Sometimes it’s the right move not for the immediate need of the business but for the strategic need of keeping the talent motivated and inspired.”

“But we still don’t think we do enough. Even if you do a lot you probably don’t do enough.”

However, Bengougam added that organisations must be careful to move people at the right time, particularly where global relocation is involved.

“Maybe we don’t always listen to people enough. 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.”

Careers@Hilton Live: Youth in Hospitality Month is part of Hilton Worldwide’s Open Doors commitment, which aims to positively impact at least one million young people by 2019.