Top job: Paul Brewer, HR director, Quintessential Hotels

What will be the duties in your new role?

Raising the bar where our people are concerned. The hospitality industry isn’t readily recognised as being a first-choice employer, but there is no reason why it shouldn’t be. So everything already in place is up for review, particularly if we can improve on it.

How many hours do you work a week, on average?

Probably too many. My office is 170 miles from my home, so I have a lot of time during the week to myself. I tend to work reasonably long hours from Monday to Thursday.

What do you hope to achieve in your new role?

To get Quintessential Hotels recognised as a leading and innovative employer within our sector. I want our people to be recognised as providing some of the best customer service.

What are the challenges facing HR in the next five years?

Keeping the momentum going and keeping up with legislation. I can’t believe we’ve still got functions that concentrate on box-ticking and keeping files neat and tidy. It’s time they were banished, because until they are, true HR departments will continually be undermined.

What is the strangest situation you have been in at work?

A meeting where we were announcing the closure of our business, which meant everybody was being made redundant.

Who is your ultimate guru?

Business guru and author Stephen Covey. I think his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is very realistic and tangible, something
you can easily relate to in your day-to-day life.

What is your essential TV viewing?

Any business-related programme – I love the Back to the Floor programmes, or where Gerry Robinson goes and sorts out a business.

What is the worst thing about HR?

Turning the simple into the complicated. I take the view that if a programme or project takes two or three manuals to explain it, it’s probably too complicated. Keep it simple to keep it relevant.

Who would you most dislike to work with?

Gordon Ramsay.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

Leaving a well-paid job to try and set up my own hotel business with a colleague. We put a lot of effort into it, but couldn’t secure funding. But at least we gave it a try.

What advice would you give to people starting out in HR?

Remove the rose-coloured spectacles, be realistic about what HR is about these days, and above all, spend some time in line management roles.

What was the last book you read?

Jack by Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric. He comes across as ruthless, but with a positive view on people management.

What is the best office party you’ve ever attended?

The celebration of achieving Investor in People recognition at the Cumberland Hotel – now that was a staff party!

Who would you most like to be stuck in a lift with?

Peter Kay. He’ll keep me laughing for hours – as long as he doesn’t try to sing about finding the way to Amarillo.

Brewer’s CV

2005 HR director, Quintessential Hotels

2003 Interim management and consultancy roles

2001 HR director, King UK

2000 HR director Europe, ETI

1995 Various HR roles, Forte Hotels

1990 Various HR roles, Woolworths

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