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The importance of keeping a wide network and putting people first

by Sonja Vodusek
Jun 28, 2024 11:53:00 AM

As Christmas approaches and London lights up with spectacular decorations, the city is putting on an impressive show to celebrate the festive season. The spirit of socialising is alive once again in London, with much of the population heading towards their third vaccine and event invitations filling our diaries. We all need a boost and a bit of magic…

I feel reflective about the year drawing to a close, and the exciting year ahead as The Peninsula London project progresses and we continue to develop our wonderful hotel on the corner of Hyde Park. Despite the obvious challenges, I’ve managed to meet many fascinating people over the last 12 months who have given me the opportunity to get involved in shaping the future of hospitality here in the city.

Since I arrived here in London at the beginning of 2019 to take on the role of Managing Director of The Peninsula London, my focus has always been about staying connected and building a community here. Having worked all over the world throughout my career I have never particularly felt like an ‘expat’ in a traditional sense.

In hospitality, even at the luxury end of the industry, the topic of staffing comes up again and again. It’s a huge challenge to find and train people with the right attitude and aptitude for the business.  So, I was delighted to take on a role as part of The Regent University’s Walpole Professorship Initiative. The programme provides a hands-on approach to learning with mentorship from influential, senior figures from some of the world’s best-known luxury brands.

It’s a great opportunity to give something back and to inspire our future hospitality leaders through my own first-hand experience, and to connect with British students and communities. Not only do I get a hand in shaping the future of the industry I love so much, but being surrounded by new talent re-energizes me and inspires me.

The hospitality industry, much like every other, has changed significantly with technology and automation having the potential to cover many of the more straightforward tasks. What’s left of course, is the service. Now, more than ever, what’s most important is the two Q’s, EQ, which is emotional intelligence, and CQ, which is cultural intelligence. What we’re doing at Peninsula, and what we’re teaching the students, is how to build empathy, personalisation and intuition into the service offering.

Put people first, always, and the profits will be sure to follow. I’m a firm believer in getting to know the people inside and outside of your own industry. Keeping my network wide has allowed me to do things outside my comfort zone, and constantly provided me with a fresh perspective that I can take into my work.