At school… at a Hilton Hotel

With more than 3 900 hotels and 140 000 team members across 90 countries, Hilton Worldwide is certainly the global leader in the hospitality industry. And through its in-house Hilton Worldwide University, Hilton ensures that it continues to attract, develop and retain talent within its workforce. LAHJA NASHUUTA of The Southern Times caught up with KATE MURPHY, Hilton’s regional learning and development manager for Africa and Indian Ocean during her recent visit to Windhoek.
Q:   What was the purpose of your visit to Namibia?
A:  As Hilton Worldwide’s regional Learning & Talent Development Manager for Africa and Indian Ocean, I work with the regional human resource directors, hotel general managers, human resources and training specialists at our hotels across the region to ensure that we find, attract, develop and retain talent within our teams.
We support hotels like Hilton Windhoek, with their training activities through regular property visits, virtual meetings, training sessions and calls.
We also support cross exposure training and new openings by identifying the talent needs, sourcing the appropriate individuals and providing the relevant training.
The purpose of my recent visit to Namibia was part of our ongoing programme for the region which involves regular meetings with the local teams to review talent management processes and training offerings available.
Q: Can you tell us more about Hilton’s talent development programmes?
A: For a successful people strategy, we understand that it is all about having the right people in the right jobs, with the right skills and ready to deliver our business objectives.
We have put in place talent development programmes at different levels, in order to equip our team members with the essential resources.
Our management programmes provide our line-level managers with capabilities to excel in their current jobs, while our leadership programmes enable our top talents to move up through the organisation and establishing themselves in leadership roles.
Under the talent development programs, Hilton offers a variety of programs for developing supervisors, managers, heads of department, directors and general managers that are conducted either at hotel level or regional level. In this way, we are able to grow talent.
Our senior leadership program (Pro-Active Leadership) is conducted on a regional basis, and we have just concluded training for 22 team members from six African countries – South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Cameroon.
In addition to the leadership training courses, we have several fast-track development programs for both internal and external candidates, which target different positions.
In addition to this, Hilton Worldwide’s general manager development offerings ensure our leaders are at the top of their game and able to inspire and lead their teams to achieving success.
Q: How are these programmes conducted and what are the qualification criteria?
A: Hilton Worldwide’s Performance Management and Talent Review processes are well-established and assist in identifying team members with promising potential and to grow team members with a desire to develop and improve their knowledge and skills.
The team members identified for our programmes are also required to compile a robust Personal Development Plan, which is a structured process that helps them identify areas they need and want to work on during the year for self-development.
At Hilton Worldwide, we provide this through a variety of avenues, like e-learning via the Hilton Worldwide University, self-development activities, assignments which allow team members to develop new skills, career paths, transfers and promotions.
Q: Do you think Africa produces enough skilled labour in the hospitality and tourism sectors?
A: Africa definitely has greater potential to produce skilled labour in the hospitality sector and currently, our talent development team is focusing on two regions – specific initiatives to assist in developing talent across Africa and Indian Ocean.
We are identifying and partnering with the top 10 local Hotel Schools and Tertiary Institutions in Africa and Indian Ocean in order to create opportunities for internships and jobs for students in the hospitality field. In addition to this, we are partnering with the International Youth Foundation to implement their Passport to Success life skills curriculum, which is a range of employment readiness skills targeted at the youth between the ages of 15 – 24.
The initiative is aimed at building interest and increasing awareness of the hospitality industry, the career options available and to promote skills development amongst the youth.
Q:  Can you point out some of the success stories of Hilton’s development programmes in creating skills in the hospitality sector in Namibia and across Africa at large?
A: Hilton Worldwide has an extensive list of successful learning and development interventions and some of these which Hilton Windhoek continues to make use of include – Hilton Worldwide University, Skills Development, Food and Beverage Interactive Learning Centre, HTA Culinary Programme and Management Programmes.
Globally, our award-winning Hilton Worldwide University offering has over 248 000 registered learners who successfully completed over 5 million hours of training each year.
Hilton Worldwide University offers direct access to a wide array of learning opportunities, ranging from on-the-job training through to leadership and management development.
Team members are able to conveniently access courses which are delivered in a variety of ways including e-learning, webinars, eBooks and articles, classroom training, on-the-job experiences, social learning and applications.
Across our properties in Africa, team members make extensive use of Hilton Worldwide’s e-learning interventions and at Hilton Windhoek, team members have completed nearly 4 000 e-learning interventions since the hotel’s opening in May 2011.
Our Training Specialists at each hotel are trained and certified to be able to conduct our management development programmes for supervisors and junior managers at property level.
For instance, Hilton Windhoek held two courses for supervisors and junior managers last year with 24 delegates participating and will be conducting the next level management programme later in 2013.
Q: Any final words?
A: Hilton Worldwide remains focused and committed to skills development and to growing the local talent of the communities within which we operate.
Through our learning and talent development programmes, team members are provided with resources and opportunities to enhance their skills.
Globally we are adding over 1 000 hotels to the Hilton Worldwide portfolio in the next five years, many in new and emerging markets.
The challenge facing us is the resourcing for our current business and future growth plans, building of talent pools and succession pipelines as well as acquisition of new knowledge and skills to ensure we offer the same world class experience at each property – particularly in emerging markets.
Building of bench strength in business critical positions such as general managers is another challenge facing us.
One of our top priorities is to develop local talent pools in order to build capability as we grow in current countries and develop into new countries.

July 2013
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