In part two of our recruitment specialist spotlight series, we talk to Louise Phelps MIH founder of LJ People.
You are a Mentor with our Mentor Me scheme. Why did you decide to get involved?
I love any type of mentoring, I think it’s so valuable and after hearing such good things about the scheme I threw my hat into the ring. It’s proven to be really enjoyable.
Tell us a little more about yourself and your career to date.
My career has always been in recruitment and HR but across lots of different industries. I found my passion for hospitality in 2017 and I’ve not looked back. I couldn’t have been prouder of my achievement and success working at The Savoy hotel as Head of Talent Acquisition, and it really drove me to start my own business; LJ People in 2020.
Has your recruitment company always been hospitality-focused?
I set up LJ People with the sole focus on hospitality. When you find something that you love and are passionate about, it makes perfect sense to continue on that journey. I have however recruited across different industries during the lockdown periods as some previous clients of mine had changed sectors and needed some recruitment help – and they knew and trusted me.
What makes your brand so different to others in your sector?
I like to think that it’s me that makes the difference. My services are word of mouth, network strong and partnership focused. I take time to get to know my clients and their business to ensure the candidates I select for them are the right ones to compliment their existing team and goals.
Staff shortages in hospitality are making the news right now… what do you feel can be done to rectify this?
This is a huge issue we face, and not a new one. As a sector we need to truly commit to creating work environments and packages that are attractive to people – and hold ourselves/other organisations to account if they are not. It’s also imperative that we let great people come and work in the industry no matter where they hail from, and there is a live petition right now for us to challenge and change this if you’ve not signed yet… Every signature counts!
I also think there’s an awful lot of work we need to do (as an industry) to change perceptions, we also need to focus on colleges and schools, promoting the industry from a much earlier stage.
What is your hope for the hospitality industry as the year progresses and for the beginning of 2022?
I would love to see the industry we know and love absolutely thriving again after the restrictions are lifted. I think we have all missed the buzz of a busy restaurant or a hotel lobby – and I’d really not like to ever see the industry suffer as we have. It’s going to take a while for us to recover; but I have every faith we can do it.
What do you think makes the hospitality industry so special to work in?
The people of course! The industry is so special, and is full of insanely talented and hard-working people. We really are a family.
What made you join the Institute of Hospitality?
I used to see the Institute as a bit of an ‘old boys’ club’ to be absolutely honest! But in recent years have seen a change for the better, with more diverse members. During lockdown, you ran a special £99 promotion to help hospitality professionals during furlough and I thought now is the time to join!
Which elements of Membership did you use most during lockdown?
I’ve been attending the coffee and conversation mornings during lockdown and love how friendly and welcoming everybody is… and it’s not just General Managers as I assumed it would be at first! Hospitality has such a wide variety of career options, it’s great to be connected and networking with MD’s, Sales Managers, HR, Marketing and also hospitality students etc.
I’ve recently had the privilege of becoming a mentor for the Institute’s Mentor Me programme… I’m mentoring a final year student. I am enjoying it as it stretches me and also helps me to think differently.
Do you have any advice for people considering joining the Hospitality industry?
Just do it! There are so many possibilities in the industry for you and your career. You also get to learn so many skills at once, there really is no industry like it.
Tell us three things about yourself that no-one else knows!
- A bit of a guilty pleasure, but I am OBSESSED with Emmerdale, will never miss an episode, even if it is on catch-up!
- I cannot stand seafood or shellfish.
- Because of this, every chef I’ve ever worked with has cooked me some wonderfully different seafood dishes to try and change my mind, but I just can’t stomach it.