Secrets of my success: Angela Brav, Europe CEO of InterContinental Hotels Group

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Angela Brav, the European boss of InterContinental Hotels Group, shares her secrets on how she climbed the career ladder in the hotels industry.

What do you do?

I lead the Europe region for global business InterContinental Hotels Group. In Europe, we have 106,000 rooms across more than 650 hotels in 34 countries. I have to ensure they are being managed to a high standard and are occupied as much as possible to help IHG perform well.

As you can imagine, I spend a lot of time in our hotels to see how they are performing and what can be improved. This means I travel regularly.

What do you enjoy about it?

I get a kick out of knowing that I work for a business that is focused on people. It goes beyond putting heads on beds. Our properties are used for conferences and weddings, so I love hearing feedback about the memories people have made in our hotels.

What do you find most challenging?

I hate getting the odd letter about a bad stay at one of our sites. You think you would get used to it but it can ruin my day.

When I get an amazing letter calling out some of our colleagues for making a trip even better, it makes my day. I also get annoyed at how long it can sometimes take to get through airport security. When you travel as much as I do, that time really builds up.

Biggest break?

When I lived in Florida, I applied for a job as a receptionist at the front desk of the Ramada Inn there. I had no experience but in the interview when they asked me what I liked to do in my spare time, I told them I loved playing tennis. I found out later that the owner of the hotel was a big tennis fan so took a chance on me.

I never looked back and worked my way up the chain at IHG before being promoted to Europe chief executive in 2011.

I tell that story as it is so important  in an interview to give the interviewer an insight into you,  and not just a perfect CV. It just helps you connect more. 

Biggest setback?

I wouldn’t call it a setback, but a very hard time in my life was when my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer. Of course, I had to prioritise that over my career and there were days when I wanted to walk away from the company. The lesson I learned was the discipline to stick it out when things are tough.

How do you juggle your work-life balance?

I am married and have two kids; a  13-year-old son and 17-year-old daughter. I don’t try to balance work and life every day. We have to accept that sometimes you have to put your head down for some time and concentrate on work.

Don’t have fairy-tale expectations that you can do everything at once. Accept the help. A lot of women don’t want to because that dispels the notion that they can do it all. But in reality, accepting help is a route to achieving balance in a way that works for you. 

Any tips?

When you are starting out, don’t just look at the salary. You should worry more about finding a boss who will take time to mentor and nurture you.

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October 13, 2016 |
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