Governance Director for Northern Europe, Digital & Technology (UK)

Cristina Cavaco

Cristina Cavaco's Story

I started with Accor in 2012, doing sales and marketing for Novotel London West. I realised I wanted to work in operations and be more connected with the guest experience and the services we provide in hotels; to be part of the real show. After a year, I had the opportunity to move to a hotel in Lisbon; it was a more junior position but in operations.

A year later, I came back to the UK as an assistant manager at ibis Bristol Centre. Then things started to move quite fast. By the end of that year I took on general manager positions covering maternity leave in different properties and this led to me getting my first hotel as a GM at ibis Portsmouth.

After that I got the chance to take over the exciting project of converting a hotel to an Accor brand; general manager at the ibis Styles Gloucester Road was my last GM position before moving to Digital & Technology. I would never have considered that before but hospitality brings an enormous variety of jobs.

I have always worked with teams that played an important part in my professional achievements, and this team spirit is embedded in Accor; I like the company’s values. I have contributed to my own development and other people’s, and moving from operations to a corporate position gave me the opportunity to work on transformation of the services we do in teams and digital technology. I still work on hotel projects in areas that are not part of my daily job.

As a leader, I believe diversity is a key driver for collective performance and that is how I got engaged with RiiSE, Accor’s diversity network, as an ambassador. We raised awareness of diversity within our own talent but also in the local community.

I contributed to achieving milestones in the Care Leaver Covenant, supporting young people coming out of care in their employability. I aligned it to my role at the time as GM; we have a responsibility to influence people’s lives in a positive way, it involved a bit of mentoring and championing diversity as a whole. If you work hard you can get recognised; we do that well as a company. Most of our senior leadership started as waiters or night auditors, and today they are managing huge properties in magnificent places and running quite complex structures. When you are passionate about what you do, when you are doing something that gives you joy, the opportunities are endless.

This generation is looking for things to happen quickly, they are impatient, and in hospitality, if you want that, it can happen but you need to own it.

It is not easy to be bold, but show who you are, believe in yourself and don’t stick to a script. We want to hear your story, your dreams. CVs are over-rated, it is not what you have on a piece of paper – own your future and share your story. Go for it!

Hospitality is seen as a low-skills job, especially in the UK, and that is completely wrong. You can build a solid and successful career in hospitality.

  • Cristina Cavaco
  • Governance Director for Northern Europe, Digital & Technology
  • UK Support Office

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