People power: talking HR with BridgeStreet’s Joanne Bown

Piers Brown By Piers Brown
Uploaded 14 October 2016

SAN talks recruitment and HR with Joanne Bown, vice president, global human resources, at BridgeStreet Global Hospitality
• What's your background? 

"I'm a seasoned HR professional. I became involved in the hospitality industry in 2004, starting as soft opening GM and HR consultant for a building conversion of a four-star privately owned boutique hotel in Kensington in London, through to working with hotel companies such as Starwood and Wyndham. This included two years in Brussels assisting with the Starwood acquisition of the Le Meridien brand."
• What attracted you to the role at BridgeStreet?

"I saw an opportunity to apply my hotel and guest experience knowledge within a different and competitive industry, in a company of fast growth and change. The role offered the chance to make the HR function truly global, and because of the leadership's belief and support, enhance HR as a key player in the organisation, whilst being given the opportunity to deliver new and exciting initiatives. The tenure of employees across the globe, and the opportunities to grow your career at BridgeStreet, as well as the commitment and passion of the team, all attracted me."
• What's the culture at BridgeStreet? 

"Collaborative, global, empowering, engaging, relentless, passionate and deliberately disruptive."
• As hospitality has evolved over the last few years, have the challenges of attracting talent changed too, and if so how?

"There's always been a healthy challenge to pursue top talent, I think particular change has occurred in terms of the pacing of converting a candidate from interested in the position to becoming part of the workforce. Managing a candidate whose expectations are to be hired speedily, with the measured mind of a sensible company who must ensure they are hiring the best. Stringent recruitment processes are essential not only to ensure ROI on an employee is achieved as quickly as possible, but also to ensure sustainability. Achieving a high retention rate when interviewing has become an art form. It has led to companies needing to be sure they are 'getting what it says on the tin/at the interview'. It is essential that companies adopt a robust interview format ensuring that longevity is achieved, thus driving down the cost of recruitment."
• What new roles can you foresee being created in the years to come, if any?

"You'll always need the staple positions, top of the tree being your revenue generators of course. However, rather than anticipating what you need in terms of your human capital, I think it is important to have a company that has agility in its mind set when it comes to its hiring needs, and to hire for the future, as well as for the here and now. Technology and analytics are key areas of growth in order to take companies to the next level, and once they get there, to keep progressing and evolving."
• Is there a trend towards recruiting more candidates from outside the serviced apartment sector, and if so from what sector(s)? 

"I think this is still being explored, and I believe it is important to have a mix. Most certainly industry experience is important, however when you are selling to a particular vertical then you need to tap into those vertical requirements. To do that you need SMEs in those areas who understand the needs and nuances. Again, a company needs to be flexible and agile in its approach."
• What future challenges do you believe the sector faces in the pursuit of talent? 

"Being bold enough to hire outside of the industry in order to challenge the status quo, and brave enough to hire for your own position. Sourcing candidates that understand their relationship and responsibility to revenue growth no matter what part they play in the business."
• What advice do you have for those looking for their first role in the sector? 

"Come and talk to us!"

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