We recently shone our IoH spotlight on Paul Harnedy FIH, Chief Operating Officer at Amaris Hospitality, who are part of our Company Sponsored Membership (CSM) to talk hospitality, awards, career highlights and what they’ve been up to during the pandemic.
Tell us about your current role and workplace.
As Chief Operating Officer at Amaris Hospitality my role is vary varied, from overseeing our 30 Hilton and Accor branded hotels, leading our Information Technology, Health & Safety and Procurement Strategies, to working on our future growth; no two days are the same.
As a member of the company’s Executive Committee, my agenda is wide but ultimately the measurement of my success is our company balanced scorecard which covers our Team, our Customers, and our Commercial Performance.
Amaris Hospitality is a fast paced, forward thinking Hotel company, with ambitions and intent to continually grow across the UK and Europe, watch this space!
Did you always want to work in hospitality when you were growing up?
From school onwards I have been in love with the hospitality industry, I have never considered anything else. It is such a fantastic industry, and whilst I have seen many changes in my 27 years working in the industry, it still has people at its heart, and that is what it is all about really; our Teams and our Customers, without which we do not have a business model.
It is the people that make this industry such a pleasure to be part of.
You have had an extremely exciting and successful career, what does it take to get to the top in this industry?
Hard work, determination, drive for results and most importantly, surrounding yourself with and building amazing teams.
You also must enjoy what you do and if I look back on my career, it was when I was having the most fun and working with outstanding people (many of which I am proud to call friends today) that I delivered my greatest successes.
Get yourself a mentor or two, I have been so lucky to have had people there to help advise, direct or just listen to me throughout my career, and their advice and support has been invaluable in my progression.
You achieved an Acorn Award back in 2004, what advice would you give to someone in hospitality under 30 knowing what you know now?
Take your time and make sure you broaden your experiences. You can climb the career ladder quickly and at a relatively young age, but make sure you consider the steps carefully and take time to explore all the different and exciting facets of this wonderful industry.
For example, I wish I had taken the time, when opportunities presented themselves to work abroad, but I chose to stick with what I knew here in the UK and whilst I have been successful, I still have a little regret of not taking the plunge.
That said, grab the opportunities that are presented to you, always stick to your principles and values, and never lose sight of what makes our industry tick, the people.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Of course, the recognition is a real personal high and non-more so than the Acorn Award in 2004, and my Fellowship in 2019, alongside many other awards over the years.
For me though, it is seeing people I have worked with over the years, progress and grow their careers. That is the real highlight for me, knowing that I have in some way, however big or small, helped them on their career journey.
What makes hospitality such a special industry to work in?
Simple: The People.
What have you been working on at Amaris over the last year during the pandemic?
Lots! People and, Health and Safety, have of course been a priority throughout, as has minimising our losses over the very challenging year. I am very proud that we have kept all our hotels open throughout, looking after key workers and essential travellers.
We have however continually looked at how we can evolve and grown post covid, which has been exciting, from growth in the hotels we manage, to new initiatives to drive team wellbeing, customer experience and revenue generation.
What the last year has also done, is lay the business bare, allowing us to identify and resolve any poor processes or procedures that previous may have gone unnoticed, meaning we exit covid, better and stronger.
What have you missed most about ‘normal life’ in hospitality?
Face to face contact. Zoom/Teams is a fantastic solution, but it is not what I, nor our industry is about. I like to chat to the teams in the hotels and our head offices, interviewing people over a coffee, catching up over a beer or hosting recognition events. I am committed to visiting all our hotels in June and then it will feel like a sense of normality has been restored.
How have you kept your staff motivated during this time?
Ensuring that we communicated quickly and honestly with our teams, both at hotels and above property was a key priority since March of last year, ensuring that changes were conveyed in a timely way and were clear.
We have held regular Zoom drop-in session, created regular newsletters with content provided by the teams to encourage engagement, used video messaging at key points, hosted pub quizzes and promoted engagement with our people app, which is like an internal twitter/facebook.
Amaris is one of our Company Sponsored Members, why is it important to you to offer some of your leadership team membership?
We offer membership to all our General Managers, Company Management Committee and of course our Graduates. When you reach a certain level, the responsibility for ongoing development becomes a shared responsibility and it is more bespoke to an individual. By offering this group, membership, they have access to all that the IoH has to offer, especially professional development, simply put it enables this team to navigate their own development journey.
How has being a member helped your career?
Personally, the networking and connections are invaluable. Being able to engage with likeminded leaders is critical to having a broad knowledge of what is happening across the industry. The broad membership base and subsequent articles and webinars help me stay informed of wider opportunities and challenges across the industry and not just hotels.
You are a Fellow of IoH, what does that mean to you personally?
I am personally very proud to have been nominated and accepted into the Fellowship. Following in the footsteps of many industry giants and sitting alongside many people I respect immensely. For me now though, it is how I can give something back to the next generation in the years ahead.