Director Northern Europe Procurement – Controlling (Brussels, Belgium)

Irina Matthys

Irina Matthys's story

My job is very data driven and it is what I love about it.

As a controller, I mainly focus on data tracking and data analysis. I work for the procurement department, so we analyse both financial and business performance. This means we follow-up financial indictors like revenue and costs and business indicators, which allow us to track how our suppliers are doing, whether our offer is still in line with hotel expectations, what category of products or services is performing (or not), etc.

It is fascinating to see how data can help you understand whether you are going in the right direction or not. Tracking the right key performance indicators (KPI) is key as it allows you to course correct. Working in data therefore teaches you to be careful with numbers. Biases can be easily introduced depending on the parameters you use, so you need to take care with how you treat the data. You never really know what to expect when a new set of numbers comes in; and that is what makes it fun and engaging.

As a director, I follow-up 9 different countries. I spend a great deal of my time in meetings to solve issues, help standardize or optimize processes/ways of working or providing feedback on our performance.

I also have a lot of stakeholders, all based in different countries. We work closely with the finance & accounting departments who are responsible for booking our revenue and costs, the category managers and buyers who design & negotiate our offer, the IT & Analytics team who are setting up our tools and Procurement Business Support, who ensure our supplier administration & follow-up.

Even though my department is mainly data driven, change & transformation management still plays a large part in everything we do. Indeed, as we are now preparing for the new organisation, standardizing processes, centralizing our KPI’s, aligning our ways of working and making sure our IT systems can follow, becomes increasingly important.

I like the people side of my job as well – we set the data up for people; if we do our job right, it helps our stakeholders to make better decisions and to manage risks accordingly.

Hospitality has always been important to me. It is almost like Accor has been with me since childhood. I have lovely memories of travelling the South of France with my parents and sisters and staying at Novotel. Then, when I started working and travelling for business, I discovered some of Accor’s other brands. Never imagined I would be working for them one day.

When I joined end of 2014, I had just started a new job as a senior consultant, specializing in IT project portfolio management (PMO) and Accor was the first client I “landed”. So, one could say I joined the Hospitality sector a little bit by “accident”. I decided to stay on as an employee when the opportunity presented itself because I love the dynamics of the company.
Hospitality is innovative, sometimes a little chaotic and always challenging (in a good way); it’s an environment that moves quickly. Our concept of “service” at the core has remained the same but how we provide that service constantly evolves. The combination of people and technology is what makes this sector so interesting.

To someone who is new in the sector I can only recommend to network, network, network! The biggest mistake I made was to underestimate how “people” oriented this sector is (even for IT & data jobs). I came from a more process/procedure-oriented company before joining and I did misjudge how important it is to build the right relationships to get things done. We are at the service of people and that is reflected in company culture.

The second thing is to be flexible. We have a lot of projects, and objectives move very quickly, so you need to be open minded and not be intimidated when your priorities change – don’t let that deter you because the benefits easily outweigh the drawbacks.

And to someone who is looking for work, if you are passionate about people, about travelling, CSR – that’s a big component today – this is the sector to be in, especially at Accor. There is work for a huge variety of people and skillsets – I started on the digital side, moved to marketing for a year and now I am doing business controlling. That is three different skillsets in only six years! Being able to learn new skills continuously is one of the advantages of working for a multinational company. Speaking multiple languages during the day and working with people from different cultures is another.

One of my best experiences was doing an immersion in hotels, I discovered three brands in three days and saw different ways of working. It created a whole new appreciation for the work that goes into running a hotel and keeping the guests happy. It also made me better understand how the services we as head-offices provide can support the day-to-day in the hotel.

In my job, I only contribute to that indirectly, but it is still satisfying to know that one of our indicators may have led us to negotiate a better deal with a supplier and therefore allowed a hotel to buy their products or services at the best possible price.

  • Irina Matthys
  • Director Northern Europe Procurement – Controlling
  • Brussels Support Office (Belgium)

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