Jo Gibson, 26, is HR director at the London Marriott West India Quay Hotel and Executive Apartments. A graduate in hotel and catering management from Oxford Brookes University, Gibson started her career as an HR administrator at the Marriott Hotel in Grosvenor Square.
What qualifications do you hold?
BSc in Hotel and Restaurant Management.
Why did you move into HR?
When I was on my placement year from my degree course, I began to fully appreciate the value of people in the hospitality environment. You can have the trendiest looking hotel, the tastiest food, or the biggest ballroom in town, but if you don’t have the right people looking after your customers and your staff, it’s just not going to work.
How did you move into HR?
I left university in 2000 and started working at the London Marriott Grosvenor Square Hotel. My then boss, Chris Ponting, is an HR legend and was the best mentor any professional could wish for.
What has been your biggest career high so far?
Receiving the Hotel and Catering Personnel and Training Association’s ‘Rising Star Award’ earlier this year. To be recognised for doing what I love is an honour.
Describe yourself in three words
Ambitious, perceptive, persuasive.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Hard question, as I’m just enjoying the rollercoaster ride I’m on. To think that I would be an HR director of two five-star properties less than four years after leaving university is unbelievable. To imagine what could happen in five years is beyond me at the moment.
What does it take to succeed in HR?
Feeding your management team and staff with all the information they need to work effectively. To develop and become more loyal to the company creates a successful business. Any member of HR needs to be fully aware that they are a business partner, and they should do all they can to communicate the goals, values and results of the operation.
How do you manage relationships with senior executives?
The executive team went on a teambuilding exercise not long after the hotel opened and agreed that we needed to look at each other and the hotel with greater ‘curiosity’. Spending time being curious with my executive colleagues has helped me align my HR activities to their needs – such as changing the way we complete training.
Who is your biggest professional inspiration?
Chris Ponting at London Marriott Grosvenor Square Hotel. He has worked for Marriott all his life and people say the same about him now as others did 35 years ago. Integrity and consistency are very important in HR and he does this extremely well.
What are today’s big challenges for HR professionals?
Employment law is always changing and our challenge is not only to keep up with it, but give the knowledge to our management team.
What advice would you give to graduates considering a career in HR?
Do it. There is nothing more rewarding than hiring a person, training them, watching them do their job to their full potential, and then assisting them in moving to a new and exciting role.
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