Rachel Begbie FIH, is Learning, Development & Well-being Director at Corinthia Hotels. Ahead of her participation in our forthcoming Wellbeing event, Rachel tells us about her career, her current role, and her pride at recently becoming a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality.
Where are you currently working and what is your role?
As Director of Learning, Development & Wellbeing at Corinthia Hotels, a collection of luxury, five-star hotels around the world, my role is to strengthen its talent pool of 3,000 employees that the hotels employ globally. It’s a varied role and there is lots going on at the moment, including getting ready for the Learning, Development and Wellbeing calls next week with all the hotels in the group, for me communication and sharing are key. Working on some new modules to make up our Management Development Programme, ensure GDPR training has taken place across the group as part of our due diligence and helping our users engage with our online Corinthia Learning Hub. So, plenty to keep me busy.
What do you love most about working there?
I love helping people grow and reach their potential whilst enjoying what they do and having some fun. So this role combines all three, Learning, Development and Wellbeing.
Describe a typical day for you working at The Corinthia Hotel.
No two days are the same, I do spend a lot of time communicating with people over skype when I am based in the office in London, or face to face when I am visiting the hotels. I also need creative time to think of training solutions to operational problems. I spend time coaching our HR and Learning and Development teams to assist them with their day-to-day activities. Results are also important, so I analyse results to ensure we are achieving consistency across the brand.
When you were growing up did you always want to work in hospitality?
At school it was either hospitality or working with children. My Grandmother was a confectioner, so I guess it was in the blood. I then got a part-time job in the industry when I was 16 and then I knew this was where I was meant to be. My journey began in F&B, but 20 years ago I made the move into Learning and Development and then Human Resources and today a combination of both.
You recently became a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality, what does this mean to you?
It was a real honour. The IOH had been contacting me for a few years and last year I thought let’s apply, when got home from work and found the brown envelope on my door mat saying I had been accepted as a Fellow I was delighted. I have been a member since being at college, so almost 30 years ago. The Fellows Dinner at the Savoy this year was very special, one I will always remember.
You have worked for some incredible hospitality brands with a successful career behind you already, what’s been your highlight?
Gosh this is a hard question to answer. I guess the opportunity to work overseas has been a highlight. Working with and understanding different cultures and achieving results at the same time. Opening hotels is always a special experience, seeing something amazing grow from nothing and all the funny stories you can tell in between.
What’s the best piece of advice you would give to someone considering a career in the hospitality?
Be open minded. And secondly, remember that where you start is not where you finish. This is the amazing thing about the hospitality industry and every experience just helps you on the way to your final destination.
How do you think we can attract more people to see hospitality as a fulfilling career choice?
I have recently been selected to be part of the London Advisory Board working with Springboard UK. This is exactly what we meet to discuss. We need to ensure young people see the opportunities in the industry beyond the obvious roles. We need to educate parents and careers advisors at schools and colleges. We also as an industry need to move away from just the full-time employment model and look at job sharing and look at different age groups to fill the many roles in our industry.
You will be speaking at the IoH Wellbeing event next month, this is a topic that’s been very much in the spotlight. How important are events like this?
Being able to meet like minded professionals is so important. Networking and sharing can only make us better at what we do each day. I am excited and a bit nervous about being on the panel next month, but I am sure we will have a fruitful discussion and we will have some fun too.
Tell us about some of the initiatives you run to improve staff wellbeing at The Corinthia.
We are trying to look at Employment in a more holistic way, so beyond the employee and the role they fill, but them as a person. We are looking at the food we provide in all our Employee Restaurants, ensuring sporting activities are part of the monthly calendar in all destinations, looking at health care whether that is private medical insurance or Health care with providers coming to the properties to support our employees in their place of work. Focusing on initiatives like Mental Health Awareness week and creating an environment where employees can chill when needed.
Hospitality is a difficult job to switch off from at times, but what do you like to do to unwind?
For me it is a combination of a few things: spending time with family and friends, travelling and experiencing new places and culture, I am currently planning a trip to Japan and, also spending time in my garden, which I just love. Being with nature and in the fresh air and creating a peaceful space.
How do networking at events like our wellbeing event help bring the industry closer together?
We all need someone to turn to for advice. Networking events like those organised by the IOH help bring people together. Contacts are swapped and then when you need advice or help with ideas, you can pick up the phone or send an email to someone who understands. Also just being able to share ideas and ask questions, allows us to go back to our places of work energised to create more exciting things and make a difference for our guest and our employees.