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Hilton UK’s winning moment at Caterer.com People Awards

Winners of the Emerging Talent Award

Hilton - Caterer.com People Awards 2018

Attributed to Rob Zajko, Senior Director, Talent Acquisition EMEA

In your view, why is it so important to nurture hospitality talent right now?

“The hospitality industry has always been, and continues to be, an incredibly exciting place to work.  Hilton opens on average a hotel every day around the world, and a career in this sector opens a considerable opportunity to experience new places and cultures.” – Rob Zajko, Senior Director, Talent Acquisition EMEA, Hilton Hotels.

In the current climate of skills shortages within the hospitality industry, it’s vital that employers create talent pools and pathways that can secure their future requirements. Nurturing emerging talent equals a positive impact on employee retention, productivity, customer satisfaction, not to mention savings on recruitment costs. However, what about the view from the other side of this equation? What about the benefits for your candidates? In the best circumstances, it can enrich their lives in ways you may never have even considered.

Nurturing Talent

The travel and tourism industry accounts for almost 10 percent of global employment and is one of the largest employers in the world, but hospitality businesses can face challenges to attract and retain young talent and skilled workers. From food and beverage, cookery and front of house to corporate responsibility, engineering and finance, there are so many incredible opportunities to build a career in the hospitality industry. It’s crucial that we highlight those opportunities to young people, and provide relevant training and support, so we can continue to grow our talent pipeline.

Last year, the Hilton’s Elevator program celebrated its 20th anniversary. It was created to provide ambitious, globally mobile graduates with a clear, fast-track training scheme which equips them with the skills they need to succeed as a General Manager. The program includes rotations through all the core departments of the hotel, from finance and sales to HR and food and beverage.

“Elevator is a fast-track 18-month scheme for internationally mobile graduates,” explained Rob Zajko, Senior Director, Talent Acquisition EMEA, Hilton Hotels. “It’s a challenging but rewarding journey that requires ambition, determination, dedication and an all-important passion for people.

“The overall goal of the Elevator scheme is to prepare graduates to take on the role of General Manager of a hotel within 5-8 years of completing the program. During the 18-month program, Elevator graduates spend nine months at two different hotels, experiencing all core functions of managing a hotel, from finance and sales to HR and operational departments.”

Upon completion of the scheme, candidates can expect to progress to a General Manager position within five to eight years, so it provides an excellent launch platform for a career in the industry. They spend those next five-eight years consolidating their experience on a series of leadership development programs, which provide ongoing support and development to candidates, with the ultimate aim of setting them up for a General Manager role.

“The Elevator program has produced some brilliant talent over the course of its 20-year history,” said Zak. “To ensure it continues to provide the right platform to build the next generation of leaders for our business, we have consistently adapted the scheme over time. We have former Elevators working across a huge range of different levels with the organisation globally, with the majority of candidates growing into leadership roles within the set timeframe.”

Further training

 Kay Harriman, Hilton’s Senior Director HR for UK&I said, “We are committed to developing and training young people from all different backgrounds and skillsets; from individuals with a hospitality qualification to those who have chosen to study for a non-vocational degree, as well as school leavers seeking more formal training.”

Hilton has a wide range of programs to suit a number of different skillsets and levels of education. There are programs to suit both new recruits looking to start a career in hospitality, and existing Team Members who want to hone their skills in a specific area.

Offering hands-on experience

“For school leavers, we offer a number of apprenticeship programs across areas including professional cookery, front office, food and beverage, exercise and fitness, facilities management and event sales,” Kay said. “These programs are a fantastic way to gain hands-on experience whilst building skills and working towards a professional, nationally recognised qualification. For those looking to hone their skills later on in their careers, our level three apprenticeships for supervisors are a perfect springboard. We are also introducing higher qualifications – at level four and five – to help those in a head of department or director role to build their capabilities as a leader.”

Hilton also offer a number of other graduate schemes. In the UK, their graduate Management Development Programme aims to develop talented, nationally mobile individuals and equip them with the skills needed to run their own Food & Beverage, Front Office or Conference & Events department within 18 months. Hilton also has an engineering graduate programme.

For those with a mind for numbers, Finesse Finance is a graduate programme which provides the necessary training to reach the level of Finance Director within five to seven years of completion. “It involves two, 12-month placements in hotels in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. As well as gaining experience in the main Finance functions, candidates are exposed to Operations, Business Development and Human Resources,” said Kay. “As part of this program, participants complete a three-year CIMA Financial Accreditation course. In the UK specifically, our new revenue management programme, EDGE, trains recent graduates to become a Cluster Revenue Manager within 18 months of successful completion of the programme.”

To help prepare Team Members to take on management roles on the operations side of the business, Hilton also created a New Leader Orientation programme. “This is designed to set new leaders up for a great start on their leadership journey,” said Kay. “It complements our existing Elevate 1, 2 and 3 programmes, a series of Leadership Development Programs which offer a structured development path over the course of nine months. Each program offers a blended learning approach whereby participants have the opportunity to further build their management skills, from first-time Front-Line Managers to experienced Managers and Department Heads.”

In addition to these amazing formal training programs, Team Members can also benefit from Hilton University, which provides access to more than 2,500 on-line learning courses and training, available in 18 languages.

Watch the winning moment

The team at Hilton couldn’t be happier about their win. “We are passionate about providing relevant progression and training opportunities to attract new talent, and support existing Team Members,” Kay said. “Investing in talent development is critical to the success of our business and our industry as a whole, so we’re delighted that these efforts have been recognised.”

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