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Exclusive live talk – hospitality HR director Rowena Carter

Posted by Tanya Timmers on Aug 8, 2016 10:00:00 AM

As a HR director at some of the largest hotels in the world, Rowena Carter has mastered the art of creating valuable experiences for hospitality staff.

Rowena has become one of our go-to people when it comes to HR knowledge. She has recently instructed some new Typsy courses (spoiler alert!) that you'll be able to see soon, and she also presented an awesome talk at our live event in Melbourne last year.

And lucky you, you can now watch Rowena's talk right here. As a lead up to Typsy Live Sydney in October, we are releasing the live talks from last year's speakers (check out talks from Justin Dry, Sam Mutimer, Pauline Nguyen and Rob Cecconi if you missed them).

Rowena shared some golden tips for creating a unique team culture in your hospitality business. It's a really inspirational talk for owners and managers alike. 

We caught up with Rowena over the phone recently to talk about the event and how she's been since. Read on below the talk. 

How have you been since we saw you at the live event?

Good, it’s been very busy for me. I can’t believe it’s nearly a year ago!

I know! But it’s not like we haven’t seen you since, we actually filmed some courses with you recently. How’d that go?

Yeah I have, and I have a new appreciation for what it’s like to be in front of the camera. It was a great experience, and the topics we covered are all things that I’m passionate about. It’s quite interesting, when you go into detail about exactly how things can be done. You realize there’s quite a number of ways HR gets carried out through the business. So it was interesting to break it down.

The reality is, it doesn’t really matter what company you work in, the principles of how people are motivated, how people need to be managed in certain situations, remain the same. Whether it’s a small neighborhood bar or a five-star hotel, there are differences but the fundamental principles are the same.

What are some of the course topics you covered?

We basically covered some of the fundamental human resources processes. So we looked at how we promote and advertise our specific business in the job marketplace – how we can differentiate ourselves as an employer. And then once we’ve got people applying for the roles, we looked at the right way to go about your recruitment process, from the interview questions to the experience that you deliver.

We also looked at onboarding; how to integrate staff into the culture, how to put together job descriptions, and what to do if somebody’s not the right fit for your business.

Cool! Obviously culture is very important, but some hospitality businesses might not have the budget for a HR manager. What are some small things owners or managers can do to look after their people in terms of culture?

That’s a good point. a lot of companies don’t have human resources and can also create a really amazing culture. And in some ways, I think they need to embrace the organic nature of how they manage people. So I guess processes become less important and the experience probably becomes more important. You’d have some basic framework around who you want to be as a culture, and therefore who you want to attract into your business.

Have a clear understanding of what makes you different from other businesses and set up your standards to really show employees how you want to come across. Get the right training in place from day one and do the little things that make a difference to the employees, and more importantly, you should be developing and growing the people you have and offering them opportunities as well as asking for performance from them.

Having something that you can offer them that will keep them with you a bit longer. Because let’s face it, in a lot of hospitality companies we can’t keep our employees for very long. We all need to work a bit harder on how we can convince them not to disappear after six months.

Awesome advice. So let’s talk about your experience at Typsy Live last year. How did you find it?

Oh the event was fantastic. And I think it was clear that everybody involved in the event – whether it was the guys from Typsy or all the presenters that were there – was very passionate about being there. It’s a great event to bring people in the industry together, and to explore concepts. It was a good balance between inspirational stories, where people have really made their mark in the industry, such as Pauline [Nguyen], and then looking at the industries that feed out of the hospitality industry, like the wine business. Having Justin [Dry] from Vinomofo there was wonderful.

And then coming back to some of the things that people want to learn about and explore. We had some pieces around social media and how to get your brand out there, and we also talked about the culture. So there was something for everyone and I think it was a really good format. And I’m excited to see what happens in Sydney.

The Sydney event will be all about innovation. What does innovation mean to you from a HR manager’s perceptive?

Innovation is a word that gets used more than it actually happens. Pretty much every company strives for innovation and will tell you that that’s a true value, but I think quite a few companies can miss the point of what innovation really is. For me, it’s about exploring what's next. It’s not about perfecting what you already have, it’s about always looking for the next thing, how you can evolve whatever it is that you do so you’re constantly regenerating and refreshing your ideas, and not becoming stagnant.

It means taking risks. Sometimes true innovators don’t get it right the first time, so for a culture to allow innovation, they need to set the scene for risk taking and not let policies and traditions and procedures get in the way of moving forward. It’s about giving people the forum to explore and evolve what they’re doing and take a chance.

Nice. So why do you think people should come to Typsy Live in Sydney?

People should come because they’re going to have a good time. They’re going to come across some interesting presenters with a whole wide range of perspectives. They’re either going to come alone or with their colleagues and have a bit of bonding time.

Even if you’re coming alone, it’s a chance to become a bit more introspective as you’re listening to the presenters. You can actually think about how that can relate to what you do. And everybody needs that space to kind of sit back and consider different perspectives and ideas that they can then take back with them to work. But most importantly, it’s going to be fun and entertaining, and a really good chance to meet other people in the industry and take away a few great ideas.


Typsy Live Sydney is happening on October 5th and tickets are on sale now! The first speakers have been announced, with more to come. Find out more about the event here


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Topics: Hospitality career tips, Typsy updates, Hospitality managers