Christine Rumble, chief talent and culture officer, Asia Pacific, AccorHotels

Q. What drew you to HR as a career, and what do you love about it?

In some ways human resources is my third career but the competencies and skills of HR have been relevant throughout all my different roles.   My first full time role was as an Activities Manager for a resort hotel in Australia after completing a Bachelor of Applied Science in Recreation.  Creating new experiences for guests which left them with life long memories was an extremely rewarding job and after working in several different styles of hotels, from city locations to resorts,  I started to explore the other elements of hotel operations and eventually worked my way to Hotel General Manager.   Throughout  my operational roles I have always been passionate about developing people and getting the very best out of them.  I found that I kept gravitating to learning and development roles until eventually I decided to embrace my destiny of human resources and complete a Masters in Human Resource Management.

I love being able to make a difference to people’s lives.   I find that most people just need someone to believe in them, then with coaching and training, you can provide new opportunities which they did not think was previously possible.  To watch someone grow within the company is a heart-warming and fulfilling experience.

Q. What was the most innovative HR campaigns that you've worked on, and what was your biggest learning from that?

This is a hard one to answer as we are constantly launching new activities and experiences each year.  The one which has made the biggest impact both locally and globally would be our Leadership Capability Framework.  This in itself is not so innovative but the way that we have embraced and supported the implementation I think is truly inclusive.

The Leadership Capability Framework outlines the competency and behaviours expected at every level within the organisation and is then supported with interview guides; personal development plans identifying the learning experiences available for all team members – hotel service teams to CEOs to develop the competencies; and it is imbedded in our leadership programs.  It is reflective of the values, the leadership model and the culture that is AccorHotels.  Team members can develop their competencies in their current role and they can also clearly see what is required when they step up to the next level and can work on developing their leadership competencies for that role.  It truly enables each person to take ownership of their career and learning journey.

We created it in Asia Pacific through a bottom up process using focus groups.  We interviewed people in a role, reporting to the role and in charge of a role.  We had hundreds of people across 19 different countries involved and then validated the results with another 2000+ employees.  In 2016, the Asia Pacific Leadership Capability Framework was refined and rolled out across the globe to all 250 000 AccorHotels corporate and hotel team members to become the Global Leadership Capability Framework.

Q. Do you believe the talent shortage is real? In the same vein, what is your message to the graduates who are soon to enter the workforce?

In some environments there may be a skills shortage but I truly do not believe there is a talent shortage.  We live in a world where everyone wants instant results.  Leaders would like to hire employees who are ready to hit the ground running from day one rather than taking the time to coach and train the required skills.  Personally I believe the best way to find talent is to hire based on behaviour and potential then develop the skills on the job.

For graduates, my advice would be …. ensure that you are realistic in the roles that you are applying for especially if you have had minimal work experience during your studies.  Identify which company has a reputation for growing talent and look at which organisations have senior leaders who have tenure as it is at these companies where you will get the most benefit from in your early stages of your career as they will provide you with development opportunities and a solid foundation.  Be prepared to take an entry level position and work hard to show you have the capacity to do more.  Walk, talk and behave in the manner that shows confidence, leadership and initiative and you will advance in your career at a rapid pace.  Don’t complain about doing the boring repetitive tasks, do them quickly and efficiently and then look for more work to do.  The more you do the more people will give you and the complexity of the tasks will grow.

Q. Who is the one person who has inspired you the most in your career, and why?

I have had many positive leaders as role models and mentors in my career but my first and greatest mentor was my mother.  She always gave me the belief I could do anything I wanted to do – that there were no barriers, no glass ceilings, no gender bias.  There was never any pressure to be the best at school only to be happy, ask questions, learn and explore.  Most importantly she encouraged me to always help others and always be courteous, especially to those less fortunate.  I think I have carried this throughout my career. To me life is not a competition but a journey and a journey is best travelled with family and friends.

Q. Is there a phrase/mentality that you believe HR professionals should do away with? And what should they replace it with?

At AccorHotels we do not use the term Human Resources - after all  humans are not a commodity that you can trade off for something else.  We are Talent and Culture and together with the business unit leaders we are responsible for the attraction, selection, retention and development of talent within the company as well as the custodians of the organisational culture.  Culture is created by continuous behaviours which are either aligned or not aligned to the company values.  Our role is to help build the behaviours which support our values and address those which create integrity gaps.

Q. Do you believe there is a thing such as a work life balance?

Balance is a hard thing to achieve as it indicates that there needs to be an equal equation of time which is often not practical or realistic therefore creating pressure to achieve the impossible.   I prefer the term work life harmony.

Working in an industry which is 24/7 it is difficult to say when does work stop and personal life begin, therefore I prefer to look at how you weave in the things that are important to you in a way that is enjoyable and stress free.  For example I may be travelling from Bangkok to Singapore on a Friday night. Rather than be concerned that I am not having dinner with my friends or family, I take time at the airport whilst waiting for my flight, to have a relaxing foot massage or read a magazine in the lounge.  This allows me to be more present when I arrive as I have had a moment of time for me.  Finding what works for you may be very different – it could be taking time in the middle of the day to see your son in a school play or taking a longer lunch break to meet with an old friend but whatever is important to you it is essential to find a place within your work routine.

Q. What lies in the future of HR 2020? Paint a picture of how you envision HR 2 years from now – what’s on your wishlist?

2020 is just around the corner and  I think we will still be challenged with many of the challenges of today – how do we keep our employees engaged, how can we do more with less, how do we onboard new team members quicker, how do we deal with multiple generations working in the same team…… the list goes on.

One of the things I do already see changing is companies are starting to understand that the quality of the experience employees have working in the organization impacts the financial success of the organization. More time and money is being invested in Wellness In the Workplace Programs and integrating the work environment as an extension of the home environment rather than in isolation of.  I think this is very important and to have that emotional and physical wellness elements as it helps with incorporating the concept of work life harmony.

On my wish list I would like to see greater diversity in the workplace.  We constantly refer to gender balance but it is more than this… it is about culture, age, abilities, education, nationality etc.  A fully integrated and diverse organization generates opportunity for learning and innovation which interns creates a dynamic culture which can achieve great things. In addition, by having diverse leadership it helps to inspire the next generation in terms of the possibilities that their future can hold for them – imagine there was no bias and everyone was recognized for their talent and potential.