Today we shine the spotlight on Beth Aarons as she shares her fascinating journey to becoming the Global Director at the Dorchester Collection Academy!
Can you briefly explain the journey of your career to date?
Having completed a Psychology degree, I began my career in catering as a graduate trainee with a company that enabled me to attend several training courses run from their training centre in Kent. While attending these courses, it crossed my mind that perhaps this was something I could excel in. When a vacancy for a trainer came up, I applied and quickly progressed from L&D into HR within the luxury hospitality industry. Working in both Europe and the UK as a HR generalist, my previous roles have always incorporated learning and development with operational aspects of HR, such as organisational design and talent management.
In 2015, I joined Dorchester Collection as Area Director of HR and was immediately attracted to the company’s forward thinking, progressive and people centric culture. We truly put the customer at the heart of everything we do and ensure that our people strategies are aligned to support this through our award-winning ‘We Care’ philosophy. With a well-earned reputation for exceptional service, we were often asked to help other businesses with their customer service strategy, so much so that the Dorchester Collection Academy was established to cater to this demand. I was asked to create the academy as a new business within Dorchester Collection, the first of its kind in the UK luxury hospitality market, and in February 2018, we opened our doors. Dorchester Collection Academy has since supported over 30 different companies across 8 different sectors and has recently gained CPD accreditation across a number of our courses.
What made you decide to work in HR?
I remember initially feeling apprehensive at the time when my manager asked how I felt about moving from training to HR, but soon realised that this was an opportunity not to be missed. Coming from an L&D background, with a natural affinity for people management and a sound business acumen, it seemed like a logical transition. I’ve never looked back. Establishing the academy as a business within Dorchester Collection has been a wonderful, once-in-a-life-time opportunity. It has involved everything from the design, the build, the branding, to creating the offering and finally selecting a fantastic team. I have been pleased to facilitate several of the C-Suite strategic events for our clients.
What projects or initiatives are you working on due to the current crisis?
It’s been an interesting time, particularly as the academy is still so new. Our strategic plan was put in place only a short while ago. We’ve used the time to accelerate some initiatives that we had planned for further down the line. It’s also been a time to review our open programme content and to ensure it is adapted to reflect the behaviours that we envisage leaders will need at this time and in to the future
Unsurprisingly I have been looking at the operationalisation of the new health and hygiene elements recommended by WHO, PHE and other professional bodies so that our clients are confident about returning when our doors open again.
What piece of work are you the most proud of?
There isn’t one single thing, it is the academy as a whole. To establish a successful business within an existing company is something quite unique. I believe that being an Intrapreneur is where the future is now.
Who has been the most influential person in your career and why?
That’s a difficult one. Different people have made an impact at different stages in my career. I don’t believe that careers are a straight line now – many people have multiple careers and are good at several things so they can operate in all of these spaces at the same time. One of my close friends who started her own career with me as a management trainee, now has two distinct businesses and is incredible at both.
However, if I am able to mention two people, Christopher Cowdray, CEO of Dorchester Collection, and Eugenio Pirri, chief people and culture officer, have truly been inspirational leaders. They were able to see into the future and take a risk in asking me to set up the academy. It’s been possible with their support and foresight.
When I grew up I wanted to be…
A plastic surgeon… Though I loved biology, sadly, chemistry was not my strong point!