Talent & Culture, Shared Services Project Manager

Raphael Urbani

Raphael Urbani's Story

I have always been passionate about cooking, I cooked at home from the age of six. When I started at hospitality school in Marseille, south of France, I quickly specialised in cooking and with that you learn about beverage, too. As soon as I graduated, I moved to the UK. That was 20 years ago and I have been here ever since; that was when I started at Accor. For the first 10 years, I worked in different hotels throughout the UK, first as a chef, then in food & beverage – bars, restaurants.

Eventually, I left food and beverage and moved to human resources and specialised into training. Initially, I did some training to help in my hotel and then I developed a passion for it and chose it as a full-time job.

Heartist is our cultural transformation and the aim is to connect hearts around the world. For me, it is about caring, loving, being passionate and creating an experience for the people around us and making a bigger difference than our competitors. It is about thinking with our heart.

There is a shortage of people in the hospitality industry at the moment and many people have never worked in hospitality before, so much of the training I do is induction. I give a lot of advice; I tell them to think that they are welcoming guests and creating something special. It doesn’t matter which job we are doing, we can make a huge impact on someone’s day just with a smile or a nice greeting; that doesn’t happen in many jobs.

Ask yourself what skills you enjoy using: what would you like to get out of your new role? What makes you want to get out of bed? What sort of impact do you want to have on people?

In hospitality, no matter what you are doing – whether you are a housekeeper, front of house, back of house, or a kitchen porter – you make an impact on someone, guest or colleagues. We use our talent to dream up new ways of making it more enjoyable for the guest and for the team; that’s why Heartist is heart and artist. It’s not like 20 or 30 years ago, when everything was formatted and scripted. Now a lot of companies encourage talent to express themselves, it is about being genuine.

There are bars, restaurants, hotels everywhere in the world; you can find jobs and careers anywhere. You don’t always need a degree, sometimes it’s about working hard and learning while doing it. I started 20 years ago and I have learned so much. If you are motivated you will definitely develop.

Hospitality is a great school, and you work in a team, you are always surrounded by people. You acquire so many skills that companies are looking for: teamwork, flexibility, guest interaction, politeness, helpfulness, crisis management, time management, respect, trust… not every industry gives that – transferable skills are key.

  • Raphael Urbani
  • Shared Services Project Manager, Talent & Culture
  • London
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