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Brits Abroad – Andrew Flack, vice-president global brand marketing, Hilton Hotels & Resorts

07 December 2012
Brits Abroad – Andrew Flack, vice-president global brand marketing, Hilton Hotels & Resorts

Andrew Flack is based in the United States as vice president global brand marketing, Hilton Hotels & Resorts. He tells Janet Harmer how the support of his family has enabled him to work and travel worldwide

You have more than 10 years working overseas. Which countries have provided the highlights?

I've having previously worked in Australia and Singapore and am now based in the US. I've thoroughly enjoyed working in all three countries, each for completely different reasons.

Working in Australia was a good start for me and my family because, weather aside, there are lots of similarities to the UK. The cultural differences in Asia are vast, making working there a great adventure and special experience. I'm currently living with my wife and youngest daughter in Washington DC, which is where Hilton Worldwide's global headquarters is based. We love it here. From a career perspective, I enjoy being at the core of this global organisation.

What does your current job entail?

I oversee all Hilton brand marketing strategies and functions worldwide. Those functional areas include advertising, visual identity, public relations, strategic partnerships and brand promotions for the leisure and business segments, as well as hotel online tools and resources. I work with a team of 18 people across offices in Washington DC, London and Singapore on a range of projects - from highly creative PR and advertising campaigns down to niche revenue generating initiatives.

Working across so many different geographical markets, is there an opportunity for the brand to reflect the location in which it sits?

Hilton approaches hotel design with a global mind and local heart. But it is equally important that we uphold a consistent level of style while also reflecting regional cultures and tastes to give our guests a clear sense of place.

Working on a global basis, how much of your time is spent away from your home in the US?

It is important for me to get out into the field so I tend to travel two weeks out of four - most of this time is spent within the US, visiting hotels, but I also make trips to Europe, the Middle East and Asia a couple of times a year.

Growing demand from emerging markets has driven huge expansion, so I'm travelling to these regions as they increasingly require their own targeted marketing strategies. I'm going on a familiarisation trip to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Lebanon soon to better understand how marketing works in the local environment. There will also be future trips to Brazil, Columbia, Mexico and China.

Have your wife and daughters been happy to travel with you around the world?

My family has been very supportive and up for adventure. Choosing to relocate to another country can be very demanding. It has to be a total family commitment and it has to work for everyone or it simply doesn't sustain long term. We've lived in eight homes across four continents in the last 17 years.

Whilst living in Singapore my eldest daughter, who was in her teens at the time, decided that she wanted to attend boarding school in England and build a solid group of friends in one place. We miss her, but it was the right decision for her as she's made lasting friendships while recently achieving 12 A* grades in her GCSEs and we're very proud of her.

Sticking to family traditions is important. We're always in England for Easter and go skiing for New Year - which means we always have time together as a complete family unit.

You have dual nationality of the UK and Australia. What benefits does it provide you with?

My eldest daughter, wife and I were born in Britain and so carry a British passport, and we also have Australian citizenship and a US green card as a result of living here and in Australia for so long. My youngest daughter was born in the US and is a dual British and American citizen. It gives the children a lot of options - they're free to move around the world without the need for a visa and they can choose which country they want to live and work in.

What advice would you give to anyone in the hospitality industry wishing to work abroad?

The easiest way to start working abroad is by joining an international company that has an arm in the UK. This way the company will help with visas, looking for a home, shipping and so on. It also means that when you do move, people within the business will already know you. To work overseas, you have to be a self starter and create your own momentum. To prove you're ready for such a big upheaval, make sure you visit the country, know the culture and are ready to make new friends. It's a big investment for a company to relocate workers around the world and it's important they have confidence that you are serious and prepared to see it through.

Andrew Flack CV highlights
2009 to date
Vice president global brand marketing, Hilton Hotels & Resorts
2006-2009 Vice president sales & marketing, Asia Pacific
2004-2006 - Regional director of business development, Australasia
2003 General manager, Parmelia Hilton Perth, Australia
2001-2002 Hotel manager, Hilton Sydney, Australia
1999-2001 General manager, Hilton Swindon, UK
1997-1999 General manager, Stakis Corby, UK
1996 Hotel acquisition coordinator, Birmingham Metropolis, UK
1995-1996 - Deputy hotel manager, Stakis London St Ermin's, UK

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