Talent Development: Interview with Eugenio Pirri, Vice President of People and Organisational Development, Dorchester Collection
Organisational Development. Prior to this appointment, Pirri was Regional Director Human Resources for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts Europe. His hospitality career spans over 25 years beginning in rooms then food and beverage, before making the transition into human resources. He studied Hospitality Administration and Employment Law and received his professional Certified Human Resources Professional designation in 2002. It is a great honour and privilege for YHS to talk to Mr Pirri on 10 March, about his life and career with Dorchester Collection. - Interviewed by Erin Chan, YHS Press Officer
My first job was in McDonald's at 14 – in charge of the fryer and I eventually became amanager there! It was a great learning ground for understanding different cultures and knowing when to vary leadership styles, especially when managing people who were older than me. It taught me a lot about myself and this was when I first realised it's not about what you do as a business; it's about the people who are doing it. I fell in love with service and so I moved into hotels, starting as a room attendant and worked my way up. From here I moved through the business and one day our HR Director recognised my talent with people and suggested I moved in the direction of HR – a year later I was HR Director and never looked back. I love to travel and this business is perfect for me!
2. During your career, what was the most challenging decision you faced? Howdid you manage to make it?
For me, the most challenging decision was when I was quite young; I had to face thedecision of changing jobs and moving countries. It was challenging because personally and professionally, I had to decide whether I should stay in Canada or go where my career goes. It was hard to leave my family and the great people I worked with. It took me a while to decide to go for a new adventure in the US. Nonetheless, I have to say it was the best decision I have ever made. I believe life is all about taking risks and I have no regrets. When you take risk and change, you might not get everything you want, but I am sure nothing will change if you don't give it a try.
3. Having worked in F&B to engineering, accounts and finally HumanResources, how did you feel about the transition at the time and now?
In traditional hotels, there are usually twenty-five different departments and it isimportant to learn about all operational areas before deciding which to specialise in. At the time it was important for me to spend time to discover what I really enjoyed before choosing my specialisation.
Now in Human Resources, you're not just giving people jobs – you're giving them ameans to achieve their dreams. The ability to giving people a job and develop them gives people endless opportunities. Talent is everywhere, sometimes you just need to take the time to look beyond the expected and you'll find it.
4. You worked in Canada and the US for a long time – did you see differencesbetween North America and Europe in terms of Human Resource Management attitudes when you moved?
I think the main difference is the cultural aspects. We all want to deliver ultimateservice, so based on cultures, you may train or develop slightly different in order to bring the best service to our guests and satisfy their needs.
We all face similar changes in regards to people engagement, i.e. different generationsin the workplace. This isn't so much of a challenge though; it just makes you think about how you can do things differently – how you communicate, what you do to engage, how you embrace social platforms.
5. Do you have any inspiring stories that motivated you along the way for us?
Having started as a room attendant and working my way through hotels to achieve therole of Vice President for the ultimate hotel management organisation has been amazing and I hope this inspires others to push themselves. We all have to start somewhere in the industry and it doesn't mean you won't be successful. All you need is to work hard because success doesn't happen right away. What allowed me to grow my career to where I am now was my drive and operational experience.
On that note, students: Use your networks, get a mentor, cross train and learn to giveyou the extra edge. The best advice I was given and live by is 'do your job like you're not afraid to lose it' – you'll gain an edge and take calculated risks which will really make a difference.
6. If you could ask candidates only one question during the interview, whatwould be the most telling?
It would be "Why are you here?" This question is open-ended and it does not only tellyou what energizes the candidates, but also helps you suss out their personality. Some may tell me their story about what motivates them, their passion about our industry and why they are interested in a career with Dorchester Collection. Some may gaze and look very uncertain - that definitely tells you something! People need to know why they are here, know what they want, where they want to go (maybe not the established path yet, but at least a direction) and show their passion.
With your extensive knowledge in the industry, what is
To facilitate a smooth transition from highereducation to graduate employment, you need to be the first person who steps out and raises your hand to get opportunity and learn from it.
Global career mobility is moving up the priority list, with many businesses recognisingthey have the talent but not always in the right place. We therefore look at individual strengths, where there are opportunities and where possible move them to that area; supporting them with visas and work permits to ensure our mobility is truly global.
If you haven't got enough experience then get it through job shadowing, job sharingand taking shifts in different areas of the business. Following on from this is cultural knowledge, so I encourage people to take the assignments offered – go abroad, spend a year somewhere else, be adaptable and flexible. The quicker you experience and realise things are different across the globe then the easier your future role will be.
Lastly, being genuine is very important in the hospitality industry. If you want to besuccessful, you need to be genuine. Be genuine to your guests, to your team and to everyone.
Friederike VON BUNAU
opportunities for young talent in hospitality. It is the first entirely student focused and student run hospitality summit, designed to reduce the gap between the key stakeholders – industry, academic institutions and students from leading hotel management schools around the world. Creating a platform for knowledge and idea exchange, networking opportunities and a friendly competition, it works to foster a dialogue on employment related topics between these stakeholders. Its flagship event, the annual 3-day Global Edition Summit, is held at the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne. YHS is truly a unique opportunity! www.yhsglobal.com
YHS acts towards improving professional