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By: James Houran, Ph.D. | Keith Kefgen | Chris Mumford

The past year was full of compelling events and personalities within the hospitality industry, and looking back, many leaders stand out as strong contenders for the title of “Leader of the Year.” To our way of thinking, anyone receiving this designation must exhibit true “servant leadership” by aligning people practices to business practices, and in so doing, bring about tremendous quantifiable results and return on investment (ROI) for all shareholders.

For example, arguably the most obvious and easily defendable choice is Arne Sorenson at Marriott. He pulled off the biggest deal in the history of the hotel business, has been fighting for LGTB rights and personally intervened when the daughter of AETHOS CEO Keith Kefgen was having difficulty with her hotel reservation at the Cancun Marriott. Now that’s service orientation at every level – from individual customers to society at large – and Marriott is certainly to be envied for this and many other business reasons.

That said, there’s another candidate who also unquestionably deserves the title… Sebastien Bazin at Accor. He’s taken what was a fairly unexciting, France-centric and principally budget-focused hotel group and turned it into an exciting industry disruptor. He has demonstrated leadership that is bold, embraces innovation, is inclusive and inspires. Bazin’s highlights include:

  • Moving into AirBnB’s home rental space with the acquisition of Onefinestay;
  • Spinning off from ownership arm Hotelinvest into a separate subsidiary;
  • Moving into lifestyle space with 25Hours partnership and rolling out the Mama Shelter brand;
  • Acquiring premium concierge/loyalty player John Paul;
  • Strengthening luxury offerings with the acquisition of Fairmont/Raffles;
  • Creating new “social” brand Jo & Joe;
  • Opening Accor’s own booking platform to independent hotels.
     

His leadership has made Accor a company people now want to work for and one that is more global in outlook. If that is not enough, Bazin is similar to Arne Sorenson in that he cares about results as well as how those results are achieved. Core values, mission and vision define individual and team actions. Case in point, the day before every board meeting Bazin apparently meets with a group of younger, up-and-comer/millennial employees to discuss the board agenda and to gain their perspective and input. He has the confidence to welcome opposing views that challenge his assumptions and round out his own thinking; so, in the end, decisions and actions are based as much as possible on measured, balanced and forward-thinking evaluations.

About James Houran, Ph.D.

“Dr. Jim” Houran is a 20-year veteran in applied psychological research and a published expert on peak performance, online testing and interpersonal and organizational compatibility. He has authored over 100 articles, and his award-winning work has been profiled by a myriad of media outlets and programs including the Discovery Channel, A&E, BBC, National Geographic, NBC’s Today Show, USA Today, New Scientist, Psychology Today and Forbes.com. He remains a member of the American Psychological Association, the American Psychological Society, the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International and the American Hotel and Lodging Association, and serves as Research Professor in the Laboratory for Statistics and Computation, ISLA – Instituto Politécnico de Gestão e Tecnologia (Lisbon, Portugal).

Contact: James Houran

jhouran@aethoscg.com / +1 (817) 542-7602

About Keith Kefgen

With nearly 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Keith is a career hospitality executive. Having graduated from the Cornell University Hotel School, he went on to work at Waldorf=Astoria Hotel before embarking upon a career in hospitality executive search. He was the CEO & founder of HVS Executive Search before joining AETHOS Consulting Group. A frequent lecturer on industry related issues, Keith has written more than 100 articles on the topics of executive selection, pay-for-performance, corporate governance and executive leadership. Most recently, he published his first book, The Loneliness of Leadership, available to purchase on LuLu.com.

Contact: Keith Kefgen

kkefgen@aethoscg.com / +1 (718) 313-9149

About Chris Mumford

Chris Mumford studied in England and began his professional life in Germany and Japan before entering the world of hotel recruitment. Following 3 years in New York, he returned to London in 2002 to set up the EMEA offices of HVS Executive Search. In 2013 Chris became a founding partner in AETHOS Consulting Group specialising in senior executive appointments, advising on compensation packages, and consulting on significant strategic organisational needs for players in the hospitality industry. A regular speaker on industry related issues, Chris is a frequent author of articles on executive selection, compensation trends, and general HR topics for a number of industry publications.

Contact: Chris Mumford

cmumford@aethoscg.com / +44 (20) 7065-1391

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