Emaar Hospitality’s CEO tell us what it takes to be the World’s Greatest Hospitality Talent

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Olivier Harnisch, CEO, Emaar Hospitality Group
Olivier Harnisch, CEO, Emaar Hospitality Group

As the Emaar Hospitality Group continues its hunt for the World’s Greatest Hospitality TalentI asked the company’s CEO Olivier Harnisch for some advice on how to win – not only the competition – but in the industry in general.

 If you’re entering this competition – or if you fancy yourself as a hotshot hotelier, you better read up!

TD: How did you get the idea to start the competition?

OH: Every company needs to look ahead when it comes to attracting the best talent locally and internationally. We recognise that the hospitality industry is lagging in terms of its ability to fast track individuals with huge potential, so that they can achieve their ambition to lead and make a significant contribution to the sector.

It is rare to find a general manager or a director under the age of 30. However, with the changing profile of the traveller, we need to include millennials into the decision-making process, and their input and perspective are undeniably of great value.

Our industry is also fast-paced, offers incredible learning and travel opportunities, and taps into the more adventurous, fearless nature of this generation.

Is the competition part of a longer strategic plan?

Yes. Emaar Hospitality Group and our parent company Emaar Properties have always been recognised as a  preferred employer in the UAE and we want to continue to develop our existing and new talents. As we expand our business internationally, it is important to propel ourselves forward and embody the role of a great employer not just in the UAE but also globally.

We need to start attracting individuals who may not be from the hospitality industry but are passionate about it. My team and I always come across very capable young individuals who are passionate about hospitality but studied engineering or psychology or business and are not aware that there are opportunities for them whatever background they come from.

“The winner can expect an intense three years ahead… It will be a structured whirlwind”

What should the winner expect after being chosen as ‘the one’?

The person selected as The World’s Greatest Hospitality Talent can expect an intense three years ahead. It will be a structured whirlwind as they will not only go through understanding all the facets of the business, leading projects, and solving business challenges they will also complete an MBA which we will fully fund.

You asked on the video, “Do you have what it takes?”. In your personal opinion, what does it really take to secure the win?

Passion, commitment, dedication, and being 100% sure that they want to work in hospitality.

We’re looking for someone who has charisma, creativity, genuine passion for the job and leadership skills. Someone with the ability to look at a problem and turn it on its head. An individual with the assuredness and humility to stand their ground or admit they are wrong. Someone hungry to learn who does not shy away from tackling challenges.

Most importantly, we want someone who loves working with people whether peers, guests or partners and can relate to different expectations and cultures.

Emaar Hospitality is offering a great opportunity. What opportunities did you have – or perhaps not have – before becoming a CEO?

I decided to be in hospitality at a young age. I, like many of my peers at the time, came into it at the very entry level – I started as a waiter at the Hotel Negresco in Nice.

I can comfortably say, I have been very fortunate to really understand all the facets that go into creating the guest experience as well as what it takes to run a profitable business.

Sometimes you have to grab an opportunity when you see it; other times something falls into your lap and sometimes it’s a question of being in the right place at the right time.

Each person’s career path is different. What we are trying to do is accelerate the learning part of the career to equip people with a combination of knowledge, academic accomplishment and hands-on experience to fast-track their hospitality career. Capturing all that in three years will be a worthwhile experience. 

“There is no end goal …  only the next step”

What’s the one advice you’d give to young aspirants in the hospitality industry?

It is much easier to succeed if you have the passion for the industry. How you express that passion really helps you find the right path to success.

For me, success is about always moving forward and not stagnating – there is no end goal in fact; only the next step. This opportunity is a single but significant step in the ability to move their career forward with Emaar Hospitality Group.

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