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Human Resources veteran, Hein Dames, shares the group's recruitment strategy, and how to build a loyal team in the long run.


Human Resources veteran, Hein Dames, shares the group's recruitment strategy, and how to build a loyal team in the long run.

Category: Worldwide - Careers - Recruitment / Job / Training - Interviews
Interview made by Sonia Taourghi on 2024-03-01

Hein Dames Vice President Human Resources MEIA Shangri-La Group

Hein Dames, Vice President of Human Resources, MEIA, Shangri-La Group
Photo credit © Shangri-La Group

Human resources professional and business owner, Hein Dames boasts more than 25 years experience in luxury hospitality, and last September, was appointed Vice President of Human Resources for the Middle East, India, Americas & Europe region (MEIA) for Shangri-La Group.

A South African native, his career led him to have extensive experience managing HR and Learning and Development programs in his native country for Sun International, Dubai for Starwoods and Jumeirah, and Cambodia for Nagaworld.
Back to Dubai for his current role, and six months into his new endeavour, he shares with Journal des Palaces how Shangri-La attract, nurture, grow and retain its talents to maintain the renowned Shangri-La touch across all its properties.

Journal des Palaces: How to attract the right talent: can you tell us more about your recruitment process?

Hein Dames: In the hospitality industry, where the essence of service is deeply intertwined with personal interactions, attracting the right talent is fundamental. At Shangri-La, our approach to recruitment goes beyond the conventional goal of merely filling vacancies. We seek out individuals who embody some of our core values such as humility, respect, thoughtfulness, and sincerity, and are eager to contribute to the enriching experiences we aim to create for our guests. This philosophy is the cornerstone of our recruitment process, ensuring that every new hire is not just an employee but a cherished member who will thrive in our community.

We match the requirements of each role we want to fill carefully with the preferred applicant to make sure there will be a correct fit both in terms of skills as well as their core values. Our employees are the heart of our brand as we obsess over customer experience and aim to be the best-loved hospitality group. We attract and retain a great team committed to contributing to the legacy and continued success of Shangri-La.

Onboarding process for new hires: how do you integrate new talent?

Integrating new talent seamlessly into our operations is critical to maintaining the high standard of service excellence that defines us. Our detailed onboarding process is designed to ensure that every new hire is fully immersed in the 'Shangri-La Way' ethos from the outset.
From day one, we engage them in a comprehensive orientation process that comprises both on-line learning components as well as person to person (in-person) interactions. During this process the new colleagues are introduced to the core values and operational standards that underpin our brand's reputation. It includes detailed sessions on our sustainability initiatives, community involvement strategies, and the exceptional service standards we uphold.
By doing so, we make sure that each new team member not only understands their role but also how it contributes to our purpose of hosting people to colourful joys of life in a sustainable manner.

Career development: which kind of development program do you offer to your collaborators?

We understand that the personal and professional growth of our team members is fundamental to our collective success.

Recognising the diverse aspirations and backgrounds of our team members, we adopt a personalised approach to career development. We've meticulously crafted a suite of development programs that cater to the diverse aspirations and stages of our colleagues' careers, ensuring that everyone, from the budding talent to the seasoned leader, has the opportunity to flourish within our global family.

For our high-potential employees, we develop bespoke personal development plans that align with their individual career goals and skill sets. These plans encompass a broad spectrum of developmental activities, including targeted training programs, mentorship opportunities with seasoned leaders, and participation in cross-functional projects. This tailored approach guarantees that our colleagues are equipped not only for their immediate roles but are also being prepared for future leadership opportunities within our global organisation.

We're dedicated to nurturing young talent through initiatives like the Raindrop Internship Program, developed in collaboration with leading hotel schools worldwide. This program is specifically designed to introduce young talent to the hospitality industry, offering them hands-on experience and a glimpse into the multifaceted world of hotel operations. It's an investment in the future of our industry, aimed at inspiring and cultivating the hospitality leaders of tomorrow.

Succession planning at Shangri-La exceeds the traditional focus on filling vacancies. It's about creating a robust pipeline of leaders who are ready to steer our community towards continued excellence and innovation in hospitality. By proactively preparing our team members for advancement, we're not just planning for the future; we're actively building it.

One example of our focus on employee well-being and diversity is our collaboration with the Noida Deaf Society at Shangri-La Eros, New Delhi. This partnership creates an inclusive environment that celebrates diversity and champions social responsibility. By welcoming deaf individuals into our team, we're not only enriching our workforce but also challenging societal perceptions about specially abled.

It's a holistic approach that ensures our team members find not just career advancement but also personal fulfilment within the Shangri-La family.

Internal mobility: what opportunities do you offer to your collaborators? Is it an easy process?

Internal mobility within Shangri-La reflects our belief in the potential and aspirations of our team members. We actively support and facilitate the movement of talent across our properties and regions, enriching their careers with diverse experiences and perspectives. Supported by our dedicated HR teams, this process is designed to be seamless, aligning individual career aspirations with the vast opportunities available within our global portfolio.

Succession planning at Shangri-La is a strategic process, integral to our long-term success. We understand that the future of our company depends on the development and readiness of our talent today.

Our Global Talent Review and Internal Review process is a critical component of this succession planning strategy. The process that is completed twice in a year assesses the performance and potential of our employees, particularly those in managerial roles and above. It helps us identify high-potential candidates to fill key positions in the future, ensuring we have an advanced capability pipeline. In addition we have regular Talent reviews to discuss high potential colleagues and their future aspirations. By focusing on internal sourcing before considering external candidates, we nurture and advance our existing talent, offering long-term career growth opportunities for our employees, ensuring a steady pipeline of skilled and experienced individuals ready to step into leadership roles.

What would be your best advice to have a successful career in luxury hospitality?

Success in luxury hospitality needs the right blend of curiosity, adaptability, and an unwavering commitment to service excellence. The industry is ever-evolving, demanding a continuous learning mindset and the ability to anticipate and adapt to the changing needs of our guests. Cultivating strong interpersonal skills, understanding cultural nuances, and fostering a passion for creating unforgettable experiences are essential for anyone who wants to succeed. I advise everyone aspiring to build a career in this field to remain open to learning, embrace change, and consistently strive to exceed expectations.

What human qualities are you looking for in talents?

We try to look beyond professional skills to the human qualities that underpin exceptional service. We value individuals who not only embody our core values but also demonstrate a genuine service mindset, cultural sensitivity, and the ability to work effectively within diverse teams. Creativity, resilience, and a passion for excellence and innovation are qualities we cherish, as they align with our commitment to create memorable experiences for our guests and make a meaningful difference in the communities we serve.

Which labels did you earn as a quality workplace?

Globally, Shangri-La's unwavering commitment to creating a quality workplace and our dedication to sustainability, employee well-being, and ethical business practices have been recognised through a number of prestigious awards and certifications, that underscore our role as leaders in corporate citizenship and sustainable development.

At the end of 2023, Shangri-La received Five HR Distinction Awards to recognise transformational initiatives touching on culture, leadership, and rewards and recognition.

These recognitions not only highlight our holistic approach to sustainability and corporate social responsibility, encompassing our business operations, community engagement, environmental stewardship, and people-focused initiatives but also our commitment to nurturing and developing our Talent. We are deeply committed to operating in an economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable way, balancing the interests of diverse stakeholders to make a positive impact in every location we operate.

What are the key CSR measures you have in place?

Our commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility at Shangri-La is a reflection of our deep dedication to social and environmental responsibility, seamlessly integrated into our ethos. Our CSR initiatives are meticulously designed around four pillars: Our Business, Our Communities, Our Environment, and Our People, embodying our 'Shangri-La Cares' commitment. This comprehensive strategy underscores our efforts in sustainability, community engagement through volunteerism and donations, and initiatives like 'Rooted in Nature,' all of which mirror our core values and our pledge to be responsible stewards of society and the environment.
A standout example of our commitment is the Turtle Care Project at Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah, aimed at protecting endangered sea turtles. This initiative, led by our dedicated Turtle Ranger, not only contributes to marine life conservation but also offers our staff unique professional development opportunities, aligning with our goal of developing and nurturing a skilled workforce that is equally passionate about hospitality and environmental stewardship.

In addition, our innovative approach to cultural and environmental education is exemplified by the introduction of our first-ever Frankincense Sommelier at Shangri-La in Muscat. This role, designed to offer guests an immersive experience into Omani culture and heritage, showcases our commitment to integrating local traditions and sustainability into our guest experience.

Our CSR efforts extend beyond environmental initiatives. In response to the devastating earthquake in Turkey in 2023, we launched the 'Friendship City' project in Hatay, providing temporary homes and support for affected families.

Our community-centric approach to CSR encourages employee participation in various initiatives, with a significant percentage of our colleagues actively engaging in community activities. These efforts, ranging from educational programs to environmental conservation, underlines our overall holistic approach to community service. Our signature community programs, 'Embrace' and 'Sanctuary,' further our commitment to health, well-being, education, and biodiversity conservation.

We will remain laser-focused on reducing our environmental footprint, supporting our communities, and fostering a culture of sustainability and responsibility within the hospitality industry. It’s not just about meeting standards; it's about working to set new benchmarks for excellence, innovation, and stewardship, with our community and the planet at the heart of our strategy.

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About the author

A lover of human interactions, Sonia started her journalism career in various media outlets before moving to London and shifting to the digital industry. Listening to her calling, she's picking up her pen to share the passion and ambitions of luxury hospitality.

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