"You can't be successful without the right people onboard.
I am a big fan of the author Jim Collins who wrote the renowned business book 'Good to Great'. One key concept in the book that fascinated me was that of 'First who, then what'. This concept really resonated with me as I'd heard it in many different forms over the years when interviewing hoteliers over the past decade. No matter how you slice it, in the end, people are the most important thing to focus on when it comes to success.
Naturally, the hotel business is a 'people' business, but how do people actually drive success? As an organization, people play a far more important role than just making guests feel warm and welcomed.
Patrick Basset, Senior partner at NOVA Asset Management, and former COO of Accor SE Asia shared with me his ideas of success in the industry and it was no surprise to hear how he too believed that people were the most important driver in any business.
Patrick mentioned that "You can't be successful without the right people onboard. There have been good restaurants that have opened up and from the outside looked like they had done everything right - the architecture is great, the music is on point; then after less than two years you'll walk past and see that they had to close. These types of closures is usually due to the chemistry between the place, the people and the management. Making things work is all about getting that right mix.
So, how do you spot the right people? Patrick discussed the particular traits that he will look for in people when recruiting:
"I look at attitude; what motivates them? What are their goals? Have they been given a chance to be successful? Do they seek to develop themselves? They need to have drive and never be satisfied with the status quo - they need to always want to better themselves." he said.
As for skills, Patrick looks for skill-sets that will complement the existing team.
'Diversity' is also another factor that plays a crucial role in putting the right team together.
"I believe in diversity. The more diverse, the stronger the team. People with different backgrounds can bring different perspectives. Diversity brings fresh new points of view. We all learn from each other and see that there is never just one way of looking at things" Patrick believes that building a diverse workplace is definitely the way to go and has a positive effect on business.
The workplace now is facing the challenge of not having enough skilled talent. I really question whether or not the education system has failed us in developing talent. Patrick believes that the education system isn't preparing people for business.
"I believe people should be exposed to more real-life experiences and case studies. This is why I don't really care about degrees. It's about being able to think and anticipate"
He also carefully added that when a person grows too fast without any real knowledge or experience it could be dangerous. He had refused a lot of great offers in the past simply because he didn't think he could succeed in the role.
For Patrick, taking his role in the industry is now in hindsight no accident; it was meant to be.
Patrick said that initially, he wanted to work in the sports industry, but when he was working in a restaurant at the age of 14, his boss told his parents that he possessed all the traits needed to become successful if he stayed in the industry.
"They told my parents that I have the skills needed to be successful in hospitality - those traits were people skills and the 'drive'."
You can 'choose' to be good at something but you will only ever be 'great' if you're wired that way and it seems that Patrick Basset is just 'wired' properly for the industry.
Patrick reminded me before we parted that 'people' are at the core of everything that he does. In businesses like his, he says that he always asks owners not about what type of hotels they intend building or what their budget is, but rather 'do you have the right people?'
Framed with the Good to Great concept of 'First Who, then What', for NOVA Asset Management, Patrick is the new 'who' who has jumped onto NOVA's bus, and as for the 'what', it certainly looks like they have a solid plan - it will be interesting to see where they've traveled to in a year to come.