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Lindsay Southward joined Malmaison in 2013 with the aim of making people part of the management agenda. Five years on, she is the first people and development representative – and only woman – to sit on the executive committee of both Malmaison and Hotel Du Vin.
Within 18 months of joining Malmaison, her role was expanded to incorporate Hotel du Vin, with the department being granted resources to grow from two staff positions to eight.
By the end of 2014 Southward had been invited to take a seat on the executive committee, giving people the same status as sales, marketing, operations and revenue for the first time. By securing this position she was able to access major investment for her department.
The department has responsibility for strategic and operational human resources management, including employee relations, benefits, reward, recognition, training, development, recruitment and engagement across 34 hotels and central office functions, incorporating more than 2,800 employees.
She has moved the focus of the central human resources department to training, development and retention, aided by the upskilling of the hotels within the group to deliver employee issues resolutions.
Southward recognised the need to create a recruitment function to tackle issues such as an over-reliance on agency staff, inconsistent recruitment and a lack of internal candidates. It has seen a reduction in agency spend of £220,000 in a single year, a significant increase in internal promotions and an 8% improvement in retention since July 2017.
This was achieved in part by schemes of her devising, including the Aspiring Leaders programme for heads of department aiming to become deputy general managers and the Rising Star programme for senior heads of department or deputy general managers looking to move into general manager positions. Those selected for the schemes are developed over a 12-month programme with 20 promotions achieved as a direct result.
In addition to her role, she also consults on learning and development across the group’s parent company, Fraser Hospitality Group, rolling out the initiatives she has developed.
Southward has also sought to develop social activities for employees within the group, including an annual awards ceremony and two weeks a year when sites hold events to show their appreciation to staff.
This has seen engagement among employees increase by 6.4% between 2016 and 2017, and a further 7% in 2018.
Describing her impact, Scott Harper, chief operarting officer of Malmaison and Hotel du Vin, said: “Lindsay has been a source of inspiration for the business and all those that work with her because of her can-do attitude, energy and enthusiasm. With limited resources Lindsay has driven the people agenda passionately and diligently and made a little go a long way!”
What the judges said
“From the creation of an internal brand to join up the employee journey, to joining the exec team to represent the people function, Lindsay has represented an energetic and enthusiastic approach, bringing her team with her to deliver a great people strategy – a worthy winner.”
Jo Harley, managing director, Purple Cubed
“Her peers and colleagues clearly respect and value Lindsay’s leadership and the work she has achieved.”
Julia Murrell, director of people and development, Firmdale Hotels
Di Gwinell SACO (the Serviced Apartment Company)
James Goulding PPHE Hotel Group
Lindsay Southward Malmaison and Hotel Du Vin
2017 David Morison Jumeirah Carlton Tower and Jumeirah Lowndes hotel, London
2016 Tristan Knight Rosewood London
2015 Aideen Whelehan, Lancaster London
2014 Mike Williams De Vere Hotels & Village Urban Resorts
2013 Julia Murrell Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Great Milton, Oxfordshire
2012 Sarah Banner The Cavendish London
2011 Ros Young ABode Hotels
2010 Della Fanning The Marylebone hotel, London
2009 Liz McGivern Red Carnation Hotels
2008 Sean Wheeler Malmaison and Hotel du Vin