Michael Vaz, director of global human resources development, service and attitude for Accor Hospitality’s luxury and upscale brands, shares his passion for public speaking, brand culture and learning programmes.
What was your first HR job, and why did you choose HR as a profession?
My first HR role was with Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. It was a beautiful story – I actually hosted its annual colleague party, and the next morning the director of HR at the time walked up to me and bluntly asked me, “have you ever considered a career in training?” I interviewed for an HR/training role a few weeks later and the rest, as they say, is history.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I’m blessed with a real passion for public speaking and running learning programmes, and I love nothing more than to be able to build and nurture great leaders for the future. It’s something I take great pride in, after all, once you change people’s mindsets and show them a more positive way to be a great leader, you’re literally watching lives change and grow. People go home happier because they are treated well by their bosses, who have a better understanding of their working patterns and behaviours. It’s a very cool circle of influence.
Can you describe a regular workday at your company?
I only recently made the move over to Singapore to take on this exciting new role with Accor, and I try and start each day with a teh tarik. I’m getting quite addicted, actually! The rest is spent either creating or designing new and exciting brand learning programmes to build a strong organisational culture, working with my young and passionate team members and great business partners, as well as getting a few smiles around the office. I love a happy and engaged work culture.
The only way to engage a new generation of learners is through blended learning – a nice mix of both online and classroom sessions.
Tell us about your experience designing brand learning programmes at Accor.
Culture is everything. The more brand culture-centric learning programmes you create, the more your people and, in turn your customers, will begin to believe in your brand and relate to it. We work on everything from brand orientation, brand grooming, brand service culture and brand-centric leadership. We are also very fortunate to be one of the few leading brands in the world to have fully fledged and licensed academies (Academie Accor), with great trainers who assist us with the roll out of these programmes to all our employees around the world.
What is the best career advice you have received?
I know it really depends on each situation, however, try your best never to take a job for the money. Stick like glue to what you love doing, and the rewards will come. The monetary value always has a ceiling; love and passion for what you do, does not.
The second piece of advice would be to go home and have fun with family. Your computer’s not going to hug you at the end of the day.
How do you think the HR function will evolve in the next five years?
More people will be hired through LinkedIn, so my advice to people who don’t seem to care about a LinkedIn account, is go home and give some TLC to your profile. Also, respect and accept every invite you get as you never know when you’re going to find the next rising star who’s going to rock your company.
Second – and this is learning specific – the only way to engage a new generation of learners is through blended learning – a nice mix of both online and classroom sessions. There are some great young companies out there producing products to match this mindset, so find them quick and involve them in your business.
Try your best never to take a job for the money. The monetary value always has a ceiling; love and passion for what you do, does not.
Is there anything you feel HR can do better to play a bigger role in organisations?
I believe in making sure you instil and maintain an extremely strong and healthy working culture and ethic, where people work the right hours, people are treated with real respect and, most importantly, leaders are given tools and training to inspire people around them daily.
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