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Career profile: Lindsay Southward, group people development director, Malmaison Hotel du Vin

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Get to know your peers in the leadership community through our career profile series. Today, we talk to Lindsay Southward, group people development director at Malmaison Hotel du Vin.

CV in brief

  • 2013 – present: Director of HR Malmaison, promoted to group people development director at Malmaison Hotel du Vin
  • 2013 – 2014: Head of learning & development at Village hotels
  • 2004 – 2013: Region people & development manager at Village hotels
  • 2004 – 2013: Cluster HR at Village hotels

A day in your life

Tell us about your job, organisation and team?

As director of people and development at Malmaison Hotel du Vin, I oversee a workforce of over 3,000 employees in 34 locations across the UK, however I directly manage a team of five. The team consists of learning & development, training group resourcing & regional people & development managers who drive all areas of employee relations, culture, learning, reward & recognition etc.

What is the most rewarding and challenging parts of your role?

The most rewarding part of my role is watching people grow, develop and flourish in their roles. In terms of challenge, staying on top of the ever-growing demands that come with working with people, can sometimes be challenging. Every person is unique and we want to provide them with an individualised training plan that reflects their wants, needs and career ambitions. Given the size of our workforce, this brings its own set of unique learning opportunities. However, this is something that we are passionate about as a business.

What does a typical day look like for you?

It might sound like a cliché, but no two days are the same. My role is so varied but that’s what makes it fun, challenging and engaging. I could go from dealing with an employee relations issue on site, to working on our ‘Rising Star’ programme or recruiting new talent. Some days I find myself creating new people and development strategies, looking into new acquisitions and projects, or working with the CEO on the overall commercial strategy.

Why did you choose your current organisation to work for?

I was attracted to the group because we share the same passion. People are the core of any business, and I felt that this was true at Malmaison and Hotel du Vin. It is reflected in the investment it makes into its people – both resource and capital.  

What skills are essential for your role?

  • Adaptability – the ability to be flexible and adaptable to any given situation
  • Listening – it’s important that you’re able to listen to those around you as you’re working with people for people
  • Commercial understanding –  knowing how HR fits into the bigger picture in the world we live in today and the challenges that may bring.

Career path

How did you get to where you are now? Have you followed the career path you expected?

Growing up, I was passionate about drama and theatre. I played small parts in Hollyoaks, Coronation Street, Emmerdale, and Brookside. In 1997, I was crowned Miss Wales and became a hair model – completely different from anything I’m doing now.

My dad has always been my sounding board and after working numerous telesales jobs, he suggested that I look for a role that was more people focused. He said it was one of my strengths and saw a potential in me that I didn’t.  I landed my first job as an HR admin at Crowne Plaza and that’s how I started my career in HR and hospitality. 

What challenges have you faced along the way? How did you overcome them?

I’ve worked hard over the years to work my way up the career ladder and reach a senior positon where I can manage the agenda and oversee how the business approach people, talent and development.

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?

My proudest moment would be the promotions I have had to date. As well as knowing that my previous CEO and current CEO have both seen my potential and supported me in achieving it. It’s great to know that I’m a key part of the team tasked to deliver a group hotel strategy.

What advice would you offer to others who are looking to get to where you are now?

Work hard, be true to yourself, know your strengths and your weaknesses and don’t be afraid of what you don’t know.

What advice would you give to your 22-year-old self?

Don’t change a thing. I’ve learnt from every personal and professional decision. They have made me work harder and become stronger as a person whether it’s managing relationships or learning how to influence and change a business to a positive culture of nurturing and fulfilment.

Either/Or

  • Coffee or tea? Tea – more caffeine
  • Sweet or savoury? Savoury, I don’t feel as guilty with a bag of crisps
  • The Beatles or The Rolling Stones? The Beatles – I’m a Scouser
  • Apple or Android? Apple, just because!
  • Introvert or extrovert? Extrovert – life’s for living. Be yourself and don’t be shy
  • Early bird or night owl? Night owl! Work hard play hard
  • Winter or summer? Winter, I enjoy walks in the lakes, wellies, cosy fires and country pubs
  • City or countryside? Both, city for nightlife and countryside for family chill out time

Favourites

  • App: Shazam, I love finding new music
  • Film: The Wolf of Wall Street. It shows the desire to succeed and how easily it can fall apart
  • Song: Ice Ice Baby – I know it by heart
  • Book: The Girl on the Train – it’s the only book I’ve ever read from start to finish!
  • Childhood hero: I didn’t have one but now it would be my mum and dad for the happiest and longest and loving and honest relationship I know
  • Guilty pleasure: Karaoke – you can’t beat it!  
  • Place to eat: A country pub
  • Holiday spot: The Lake District
  • Piece of advice you’ve been given: Contribute don’t dominate
Tom Ritchie

By Tom Ritchie

Tom is an editorial assistant at Changeboard.

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