human resources online

Suite Talk: Alexander O. Wassermann, InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong

The general manager of  InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong shares how he and the HR team collaborate to build a great working environment within the hotel.  

Why did you decide to work in the hotel industry?

I have the privilege to get paid for an activity or hobby which I really love. Since I was a child, I have been fascinated by luxury hotels, creative restaurant concepts, gala evenings, etc. I made the decision to study hotel management when I was 19 and my goal was to become a general manager of a hotel.

Whatever job I took, the companies I worked for or the countries I worked in, it was always part of this plan to build up my hospitality knowledge and to develop myself as a seasoned hotelier. I’m still fascinated by this wonderful industry and I keep on learning every day.

How do you collaborate with the HR team to ensure staff are happy?

I meet daily with the HR director to discuss any developments in the hotel.

We explore new ways of doing things to ensure our hotel teams are happy and motivated and that we are listening to them. I strongly believe that a happy staff means happy guests so we treat our employees with the same respect as our guests.

I invite employees on a regular basis for lunch to give a platform for colleagues to air their views, ideas or concerns.

What will be your biggest HR challenge ahead?

I think staff retention will always be a challenge in a fluid market such as Hong Kong. We have a very good reputation for training and development and this reputation means hotels are more than happy to recruit employees from us.

Also the changing market situation in Hong Kong means more guests are coming from developing markets such as India and the Middle East. We have developed service culture training for our front line staff to help them understand and serve our customers from these regions.

How can HR add value to the business?

HR is able to make use of HR data that can be used to impact the business positively.

By analysing performance data, HR is in the position to proactively identify who’s at risk of leaving; whether top performers are sustaining performance or not; and how bonus and/or salary increases are really impacting performance.

With that said, HR needs to be agile, business-integrated, data-driven and deeply skilled in attracting, retaining and developing talent.

How do you spend your time off work?

I still love hotels, resorts or new restaurant concepts and get inspired when visiting or inspecting them. I’m so lucky my wife and daughters share the same interest. Whenever we explore new destinations, cities or countries we will visit the best hotels or restaurants in a town and normally return with countless photos.

If I’m not hanging out in hotels I spend quality time with my family.

Image: Provided

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