VP HR Hilton Europe: "There's a mystique about hotels"

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  1. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    There’s a certain magic about staying in a great hotel – although anyone who travels regularly for business could be forgiven for forgetting it. Not that Ben Bengougam, VP HR, Europe, at legendary hotel group Hilton Worldwide, could ever be accused of doing so. He might spend his time travelling the world and see the inside of his company’s hotel rooms more than his own house, but it certainly hasn’t diminished his love for the industry, or for hotels themselves.

    "There's a mystique about hotels," he tells HR magazine at Hilton's UK headquarters in Watford (they're nicer than they sound). "People go there for special events, to get married or as part of a holiday. Hotels ought to create memories. If you have a fantastic experience in a hotel, you never forget it."

    The hotel industry is Bengougam's first real love. He started in operations, working his way up to managing a hotel, before moving into training. Within three years, he became the HR director of a small Italian hotel company.

    "I went from knowing nothing about HR to being the human resources director," Bengougam recalls. "That's where I learned much of what I know." After that, Bengougam enjoyed flings with the technology and retail sectors - most recently as the HRD of beleaguered electronics retailer Dixons and then HRD at the Middle Eastern retail franchise operator MH Alshaya. He was working in Kuwait when he received a "compelling offer" from Hilton Worldwide: to head up HR in Europe, looking after 30,000 people in 31 countries, including Israel, Russia and Turkey.

    "It was irresistible," he recalls. "I wanted to get back to the hotel industry. It sounds cheesy, but it really was my first love. And Hilton - wow. The brand has such iconic status. When I left Kuwait, my secretary said to me: 'Make sure you say hello to Paris Hilton.' Everyone thought she was walking around head office."

    Although he has yet to meet the socialite (the Hilton family may cash in on the name, but they haven't been actively involved with the business for a long time), Bengougam's role sees him in constant contact with Hilton staff all over the world.

    Read More: http://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/hr/news/1075820/vp-hr-hilton-europe-theres-mystique-hotels
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