At hotel chain Marriott International, David Goodson has a vast geographical remit - yet he remains unbowed. Lucie Carrington asks him how he does it
It is perfectly understandable for training chiefs to feel they are pulled in all directions as they try to satisfy the often conflicting needs of employees, managers, HR and, of course, the business. But as training director of the Marriott International hotel chain in the UK, Ireland, Middle East and Africa, David Goodson has more reason than most to wonder what day of the week it is.
For Goodson doesn't just answer to several customers, or even more than one boss - he has to answer to two different companies as well.
The Whitbread Hotel Company - which includes Travel Inn - holds the franchise to run Marriott International hotels in the UK, and Goodson finds himself in the extraordinary position of having an employment contract with Whitbread that is actually funded by Marriott. But he faces up to the challenge with great diplomacy.
"As a product, Marriott is very different from Travel Inn," he says. "But the Whitbread and Marriott values are closely aligned and it would be hard to distinguish between them."
The result is consistency and synergy between the UK-based HR and training functions.
"HR tends to be Whitbread-driven, whereas training is driven more by Marriott, with its global agenda," Goodson says. And herein lies the other unusual aspect of Goodson's job - internationalism.
There aren't many truly global HR roles, and probably far fewer training ones - but Goodson's job fits that category. And when it comes to the hotel business, training is probably the HR specialism that lends itself most readily to a global feel. For one thing, skills and competencies cross borders more easily than pay and benefits or terms and conditions, for example.
"Some of our management competencies may not come naturally in some cultures. We don't change the competency framework because of that, although we might change how it is delivered," Goodson says.
Much of his time is therefore taken up with developing, co-ordinating and delivering worldwide training programmes.
To start with, all new employees undergo Marriott's certified 'new hire' training. This covers the first 90 days that the new recruits - or assistants, as Marriott prefers to ca