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Senior-level involvement critical in graduate recruitment

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Executive level interest and support will help make graduate development programmes a success

Senior-level involvement is vital to the success of graduate recruitment, Anne Davey, HR director at The Arora Group, has told HR magazine.

Davey said this could be the deciding factor in a promising graduate deciding to pursue a career at Arora rather than a competitor. She described how Arora’s director of operations attends all presentations to imminently graduating hotel management students: “When graduates see the director of operations getting personally involved they think ‘I’m going to be developed, I’m going to be looked after, I’m going to have access to senior people in the business'. In other chains you don’t get senior people there.

“HR is tasked with recruitment but the best people for recruiting are the people in operations,” Davey added.

She said that the involvement of non-HR individuals throughout the entire hiring process is vital, with all interviews conducted by both one of the HR team and a hotel general manager. She stated that senior involvement must then be continued once graduates have started their roles: “The graduates are mentored and that’s by people like our director of operations, myself, or the line managers or general managers.”

Regarding achieving such senior level buy-in with all HR activities, Davey warned against being overly fixated with “a seat at the boardroom table”. “HR having a seat at the table doesn’t really worry me. I think you have opportunities to influence through the CFO, talking to him about coaching programmes for example. I don’t need to be at the table to do that. It’s more about informal chats that can happen every day.”

Davey also spoke on the value of attracting people from non-HR backgrounds into the function. “People who are operationally astute absolutely make the best HR people. They give more on the commercial piece because they’ve always been thinking about customer service, they’ll be thinking about driving revenue,” she said, adding: “They make sure HR is integrated in the business.”

The Arora Group has been running its graduate development programme for three years, taking on around four graduates each year. This year it hopes to expand this so that around 20 graduates are working across its properties, which include the Arora Hotel Gatwick, Renaissance London Heathrow, Savill Court Hotel & Spa, Sofitel London Gatwick, Sofitel London Heathrow at Terminal 5, and the InterContinental London at the O2 arena.