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In our series "People First", human resources leaders share insights on their recruitment and retention strategy.


In our series "People First", human resources leaders share insights on their recruitment and retention strategy.

Category: Worldwide - Careers - Recruitment / Job / Training - Interviews
Interview made by Sonia Taourghi on 2024-05-10

Koray Genckul, Group Vice President of People & Culture, Mandarin Oriental

Koray Genckul, Group Vice President of People & Culture, Mandarin Oriental
Photo credit © Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group

How to attract, recruit, and retain talent within the luxury hospitality industry? To answer the human resources challenges of a highly competitive job market, hotel groups have implemented new recruitment tools, career development programs, and innovative communication strategies

Koray Genckul, Vice-President People and Culture, Mandarin Oriental Group, answers our questions about recruitment, the onboarding process, and career development and gives key advice for a successful career in luxury hospitality.

Can you tell us more about your recruitment process?

First and foremost, it is always our priority to develop and promote our colleagues from within Mandarin Oriental. We’re committed to a recruitment process that is fair, transparent, and inclusive, allowing us to tap into a broad and diverse talent pool from various backgrounds and experiences.
To ensure we attract the best candidates, our brand new CVP to best position MO as an employer of choice, etc…
We also work closely with renowned partners who specialise in talent identification and developed our own talent assessment tool that is benchmarking candidates against our competency model. By leveraging cutting-edge technology and scientific methodologies, we can make objective and unbiased assessments during the hiring process, identify those who are the best fit for Mandarin Oriental and reliably predict their success in our organisation. Furthermore, we strongly value diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) and actively seek out passionate and diligent exceptional candidates who align with our Mandarin Oriental Vision, Mission, and Guiding Principles.

Throughout our recruitment process, we strive to provide a positive and supportive experience for all candidates and therefore, our Hiring Managers are trained extensively. We recognise the importance of creating an environment where individuals can showcase their unique skills and abilities, and by fostering an atmosphere of equality and respect, we ensure that each candidate is given equal consideration and the opportunity to succeed.

As a Group we are committed to continuously improving our recruitment process to attract, select, and retain our most talented colleagues. Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group’s recent evolution of our Human Resources function to People & Culture, is at the centre of our business growth strategy. It is a testament to our commitment to a more holistic approach to our colleague experience, colleague engagement, and our dedication to putting our people at the centre of everything we do.

How do you integrate new talent?

Mandarin Oriental provides a comprehensive MOve-in Orientation program to all new colleagues, which is critical to welcome and integrate new colleagues into their respective hotel and the Group overall. MOve In serves as a vital tool for familiarising colleagues with the company culture, policies, procedures, and key contacts. By the end of the orientation all colleagues can describe the culture (the Group's Vision, Mission and Guiding Principles) and history of Mandarin Oriental, they understand the importance of creating lasting memories for our guests, as well as their responsibilities to the company and the company's responsibilities to them. Colleagues are also familiarised with the Group's stance on CSR and sustainability.

What kind of development program do you offer to your collaborators?

At Mandarin Oriental, investing in our people is a key priority. We believe in providing our colleagues with the necessary resources to cultivate their careers while fostering an environment that encourages their individuality and freedom. This commitment stands as one of our most significant differentiators. Mandarin Oriental is proud to offer a plethora of modern and blended development opportunities to colleagues at all stages of their careers. From our Rising Fans programme, which is for selected high-potential early-career colleagues and has been designed to nurture motivated emerging talent and create a pipeline of future leaders for Mandarin Oriental, all the way up to a sponsored MBA at a top-rated university for our senior leadership, there is something for all.

For example, new leaders at Mandarin Oriental are invited to a three-month foundational programme called MOve Ahead, which aims to equip new leaders with the skills and mindset they need to succeed. Subsequently, a series of management level programmes are available called MOve Up and MOve Forward, which are designed to develop management skills using blended learning and development methods such as 360 reviews, residential workshops, online sessions and more. At senior leadership, colleagues are invited to an external development centre to participate in psychometric testing, advanced business simulation, and 360 feedback. We are also proud to offer MBA programme sponsorship through a partnership with a top university. This is all supported by a structured mentoring programme and our internal digital learning experience platform called “The Loop.”

What internal mobility opportunities do you offer to your collaborators?

Our colleagues are our greatest asset. We strive to create a culture where they can achieve their personal and professional goals. For this reason, we prioritise our internal talent when considering candidates for our vacancies. Aiming to establish a streamlined and unified approach that delivers high-quality experiences for colleague applicants, if a vacancy is a suitable fit for both the Group and the colleague, we will ensure we offer internal transfer and promotion to their new position.
Moreover, Mandarin Oriental’s Cultural Exchange Ambassador (CEA) program is an exceptional way for experienced colleagues to assist with the critical task of opening a new Mandarin Oriental hotel or working at another Mandarin Oriental hotel temporarily. Our CEAs have a passion for excellence and act as role models to deliver on our Vision, Mission, and Guiding Principles and help spread our unique Oriental heritage and legendary quality experience at sister Mandarin Oriental Hotels.

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

We truly believe that having a successful career in hospitality is all about understanding our real purpose, as well as what our guests are really looking for. Luxury hospitality is not just about providing best-in-class services with best-in-class products, it’s about creating exceptional and unforgettable experiences for our guests. Hospitality professionals who are open-minded, open to new experiences and have relentless energy and motivation to deliver exceptional service and create positive emotional experiences for guests will succeed in luxury hospitality. But we also need to remember that it is equally important to keep our skills and knowledge up to date and stay relevant to sustain successful career progress.

The hospitality industry provides limitless growth opportunities in a wide range of career paths. Whether you start as a dishwasher, cook, or server, you can progress to regional or corporate management, revenue management, finance, human resources, marketing, and more. Remember, a career in hospitality isn’t just about jobs; it’s about creating memorable experiences for guests and being part of a dynamic industry that thrives on service and innovation. In the next several years, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has plans for dozens of new and exciting hotel projects around the world, and this growth trajectory will represent thousands of new and exceptional career opportunities for our future Fans.
What human qualities are you looking for in talents?
Mandarin Oriental follows some very clear principles. Collaboration, teamwork, respect, and humility are core values for us as a Group. We expect our colleagues t to be kind, diligent, and constantly striving for excellence in everything they do.

Which labels did you earn as a quality workplace?

Over the years, Mandarin Oriental has received numerous independent awards and accreditations that showcase that Mandarin Oriental is a great place to work, supporting recruitment and retention. Regional and global accolades from the likes of the Very East awards in China, have created a relevant point of differentiation amongst industry peers and employers of choice. It is also further reassurance for potential guests that they are making the right choice booking with us.
While it is an honour to receive recognition for our efforts, Mandarin Oriental prefers to focus on the values and principles that truly make us a great place to work. Our primary aim is to foster a safe, respectful and inclusive environment that nurtures and supports our colleagues and provides a wealth of opportunities for both personal and professional development. We believe that the true measure of our success lies in the happiness and satisfaction of our colleagues. It is the trust they place in us, the feedback we receive, and the long-lasting relationships we build that truly define Mandarin Oriental as a quality workplace.

What are the key CSR measures you have in place?

Mandarin Oriental is committed to doing the right thing for our planet and our people. We believe our presence in a destination should also positively benefit its communities. In 2023, the Group rolled out ‘MOgiving’ initiative of one paid day of leave, empowering colleagues to give back to their communities. Colleagues collectively contributed over 52,000 volunteer hours in 2023, which is more than a 1.5x increase from 2022. Volunteering initiatives ranged from education and skills development opportunities for disadvantaged youth and adults, disaster relief efforts fighting hunger to supporting interconnected environment and animal welfare goals. We are also very proud of our initiative to 100% eliminate single-use plastic in our operations.

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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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