HR Professional Day in the Life Interview - Francene Taylor

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG): Headquartered in Denham, UK, IGH sticks to the goal of creating “hotels that guests love.” However not only do the guests enjoy their stay, but the employees of IHG also stay with the corporation, and stay satisfied.


InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) owns, operates, and franchises seven hotel brands known throughout 100 countries, totaling over 4,400 hotel establishments, 640,000 rooms, and 180 million visits to their hotels annually. Their hotel brands include InterContinental, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Crowne Plaza, Candlewood Suites, and Staybridge Suites. To ensure everything operates smoothly and the guests enjoy their stay, InterContinental Hotels must seek out and employ a variety of staff members. Francene Taylor, Director of Resourcing for the company, oversees the recruiting process for IHG which entails a multitude of responsibilities. Experience a day in the life of Human Resource professional, Francene Taylor, who claims that her role is ‘whatever needs to be done’.

Nancy Holland, VP Marketing for Direct Employers recently interviewed Francene Taylor, Director of Resourcing for InterContinental Hotels Group.

Tell us about InterContinental Hotels Group.

It’s the best company in the world. I’ve been there for 16 years, but some have been there 30-plus years. We own, operate and franchise seven hotel brands, Holiday Inn Express being the fastest growing brand in our segment.

How did you get started in recruitment?

I was a young college graduate and went to work for a temporary agency on their sales side. I decided that I didn’t like sales and went to the operations side, working with and placing candidates. After the temporary agency work, I then performed full-time placements and transitioned into a large corporate environment.

What do you like about recruiting?

Talent acquisition, as we call it now, has different kinds of interest and talent. It’s not about the people-person who is interviewing all day long. There is a lot of data and analytics as well, so it’s possible to have a variety of talents and still be challenged.

What is a “day in the life” like for you?

For the past two and one-half years it has been a phenomenal smorgasbord. I can’t remember looking up from my desk and saying “Gee I’m bored.” There’s always something new. I’m moving from more of a straight recruiter role to the role that I have now. We do our source analytics on a very informal basis – reporting and number crunching.

What trends are you seeing in today’s recruiting environment?

Well, there’s good and there’s sad – no one is having trouble with candidate flow – there are a lot of good quality people out of work right now. We’ve all seen a spike in the number of candidates we have.

Another trend we’ve seen started a couple years ago, which is less reliance on job boards. The question became, “why do I need to pay an exorbitant amount of money each year to a job board, when I can take that money and invest in driving job seekers to my corporate career site?” Our main goal is to drive all job seekers directly to our site, not to a major job board; though it is still important for us to partner with job boards. In order to route candidates to our site, we need to know what we don’t know, which is where should we be spending our money and time to drive job seekers to our site. Now that we have a better understanding from where our candidates are coming, the question becomes ‘how do we get in front of them in a cost effective way and keep that flow going?’ Interestingly, I think the job boards that will be most successful are the specialty ones and not the huge boards. Having a global recruitment system helps too because we are able to identify talented candidates in large buckets.

What are the key factors that contribute to your company’s success in recruiting?

Anyone who goes to our website, and of course all candidates should be going there and getting to know us, will see two things. One is our commitment and it is what we promise to our employees and what we want them to do for us. They will see that there are four different rooms: Room to have a great start (that is where talent acquisition is); room to be involved; room to grow; and room for you. And our different functions within the organization fall into those rooms.

The second thing you’ll see is our winning ways information, which defines us as an organization that start with do the right thing (we keep our promises and we don’t let people down), also you will see the IHG commitment information in action. You can see the bulletin boards with all of the awards the employees have won and recognition from our guests. The employees know the winning ways.

What challenges do you face in recruiting?

Challenges include the economy, and having to squeeze every nickel to do more with less. We have not had to do drastic cuts, but everyone is being very cautious. The best minds aren’t predicting the economy changing until later this year, but things aren’t really going to improve until people get back to work.

What advice would you give a job seeker about working for your organization?

If you want to be a general manager at a large, upper scale hotel with full service, you need to know how to work with engineering departments, food and beverage, federal and state agencies, and famous people. When you have a rock star, an actor or especially a head of state, you have to understand it’s a different clientele, and you have to be prepared to provide whatever they need at whatever time they need it; whether it’s a special dish from room service at 2:00 A.M., or tickets to a Broadway musical that has been sold out for months. Concierge at a hotel is one of the most important roles. Robert Watson, one of our concierges at the Willard in Washington D.C., was appointed first international vice president for the International Concierge Association. Another type of situation is that an Extended Stay may have families that are there for a week or six months, but it’s a family environment. To start off you need a degree in hotel management. You’re going to have to understand what the different areas need, so you will spend time learning the operations of all departments within the hotel. Also, it is important to understand all the functions in the hotel. Anyways, I encourage them to go to our website because opportunities are available in many countries around the world.

What types of people are you looking to recruit?

We are always on the lookout for strong hotel general managers and hotel sales across the world. We’re opening up two new properties in Angola. Several managers on a project team are opening those hotels. It’s important to know that no matter where you start your career, you can go anywhere. If you want to travel the world, hospitality is the way to go.

What is your favorite DirectEmployers member benefit?

Everything that you guys offer is one of my favorites, but the compliance and the ability for you to be able to handle it so easily for a member is amazing. It’s not something that I have to deal with every month. I also really like access to the ThinkTank Webinars. I get good information from them.

The member surveys are also a great tool that is painless; I try to respond to as many of them as possible. I think if I have any knowledge that might be important to someone else, and I know the companies that send those out need that information, that it’s not just an idle request. Then maybe someday I’ll need to send a survey, and another company will share what they know with me. It takes only a couple of minutes.

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