Spotlight on… Edward Gallier

People are at the very heart of what Edward Gallier does best. He shares his inspiration with TJ.

Edward Gallier is the group learning and development manager at Jurys Inn Hotel Group and has always worked in the hospitality sector. He has a broad range of experience in the sector including: managing hospitality at race courses, stadiums, hotels, the ‘Protocol’ lounge manager for the Manchester Commonwealth Games, and even a spell as a hotel inspector for Condé Nast. For the last 15 years, his focus has been people development and the creation of workplace learning opportunities that give every employee their chance to shine.

In 2014, Jurys Inn’s people portal GROW online won silver at the E-learning Age award for best project implementation for their BELONG Induction programme, Learning Pool Organisation of the Year for the second year and most recently, the Irish Institute of Training & Development (IITD) winner of best innovative use of technology.

Gallier is an active mentor with Oxford Brookes University, School of Hospitality, Bacchus Mentoring Programme and passionately believes in the work of the school, the staff and the future of the students. He is a founding board member of FLIGHT – Future Leaders in Global Hospitality and Tourism, whose mission is to develop skills and relationships between students, employers and educators to create world leading placement and graduate opportunities across the industry.

Outside work, he volunteers and is a fundraiser at Holy Cross Junior Church and Youth Club in Uckfield which supports local primary school children.

Why training and how did you start?

My career started in hotel operations with the plan to become a hotel manager. This gave me a sound grounding in understanding both employee and guest needs for my current role. I still draw on these experiences today when designing and structuring programme content. One summer, I came back from holidays and just could not settle back into my role as quality and service manager with Jarvis hotels. I must have been reading a management book at the time as I completed a SWOT analysis on myself which became a three-year plan to make a change rather than sitting there dissatisfied with my role.

I identified that I loved welcoming new recruits to the hotel and getting them through their induction and basic training and that’s where I wanted my future to be. I still remember seeing the plan stuck on the front of the fridge for about 18 months just to make sure each day I had my eye on the prize. Pre-internet job searching, I saw an ad in The Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine for a training officer, a rare role as most hotels at the time wanted HR generalists. The ad said: “Come grow with us.” It was Jurys Doyle Hotel Group that gave me my break into training and I have never looked back. I really have grown with them!

Who or what inspires you?

People who don’t want to fit in or blend into the mass. People who push for change to the status quo. Don’t get me wrong, I would not see myself as a rebel but nothing changes if individuals don’t challenge us to see differently what we currently perceive to be normal or acceptable at any period in time. Sometimes evolution is just too slow.

I admire Harvey Milk, an American politician who became the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California. Not allowing sexual orientation stand in the way of personal aspirations or stopping you putting your best people in key positions.

Sir Clive Sinclair, who put a computer in my house as a child. He took something elite and inaccessible and made computers mass market. I still remember the odd keyboards of the ZX81 Sinclair Spectrum to this day!

Lastly, Archbishop Oscar Romero, a modern day martyr, who stood up for the poor of El Salvador against the oppressive government of the time. He spoke his mind, stuck to his beliefs and influenced others to make a change. He lived what he said and paid the ultimate price.

What has been your lowest moment, and what your noblest hour?

In 2008, I started my own business really fired up with the possibilities this new opportunity would bring. But soon after, the financial crash happened.

These were difficult times for a start-up. I became very self-aware about what made me tick. I realised I needed people around me for inspiration and ideas. I became a great networker and partnered with some amazing people along the way, some who I still work with today. What I had not considered was the feeling of privilege when you work as a consultant and the level of disclosure is high. They really are the best of times, the exceptional people outcomes you create.

Every year I am lucky to work with some amazing young people through our development programmes. They really keep you on your toes; challenging your long held views and helping you form new ones. I love the work; it’s a development partnership really. [pullquote]Every day you really feel the legacy you are helping create is through people rather than ‘things’ and that’s the way it should be[/pullquote]. Amazing people flourish in amazing businesses and it’s every manager’s job to continually develop talent to create stability and future success.

What and when was your career turning point?

At the end of 2012, I joined Jurys Inn full-time and stopped working for myself. It was a massive decision to work for one organisation again after having the freedom of being self-employed. I was looking for an opportunity to be a permanent member of a team again. I thrived on the creative opportunities project work gave me but learnt early on I really needed the team spirit of being part of an organisation to flourish myself. I’d also missed the experience of seeing a project through from inception to implementation and beyond. You are lucky as an external consultant if an organisation is willing to keep you updated about the impact of a project you have been working on. To see the impact your efforts has had on a situation is deeply rewarding. I joined a small central HR team as the L&D specialist in an organisation that really values its people. I was able to apply my creativity to business projects and grow the function. I have to say I’m lucky to be around so many ‘completer-finishers’!

Describe your best learning and development experience

Soon after joining Jurys Inn Group, we were tasked by the CEO, John Brennan to get more from the L&D budget. At the time, a challenge and a great offer, as I often met industry colleagues who talked about cuts to or no L&D budget. This really made us look at what we delivered and also how.

With 2,000 employees dispersed through 31 sites in three countries, you inevitably have challenges around access to learning, consistency and an ability to track activity. Part of the review was the introduction of online learning. This was never going to be easy in an organisation known for its face-to-face experiential learning – in a sector whose success lies in face-to-face relationships and service delivery. For me it was all about getting people to realise it was not a case of either/or. We had a real opportunity for online to help us achieve our goals in a blended, more accessible, engaging way. For the project to be successful, we had to streamline what we already did and bring us the opportunity to do things we weren’t doing.

We started by developing some amazing bespoke content around what can often be dismissed as everyday, the employee induction with our partners at Learning Pool. This content gives everyone the chance to access the portal. We spent some fun and long days travelling the company introducing the portal to regional groups of managers. It was important each manager bought into the content and learning approach. They were the ones who would be using it every day. I am lucky to work with some great people that are happy to give something a try even when it may not be a smooth road to implementation. The HR managers in each hotel really got behind the implementation and we have not looked back.

The GROW online portal now gives us the opportunity not just to deliver content to each employee but communication as well. It has energised learning and taken it out of the classroom. In a 24/7 operation, employees can now access information and content anytime. We have had uplifting stories of employees who felt disengaged with learning because of their shift patterns or responsibilities at home who were now able to take part like never before. For me, the best learning experience was when operational managers saw the benefits of the portal and used it as a way to surface, capture and share their knowledge. Managers are now building in the portal’s potential from the start of projects, key to delivering content and the project’s effectiveness rather than as an add-on or afterthought.

What’s next in your career?

I’m working in an organisation that has a vision to exceed expectations which in itself can be a challenge every day. Our guests have an expectation of our products and services, our employees have a level of expectation from their employer and everyone has a vocal expectation of the L&D function in my experience. Nothing stands still though so the smart businesses listen to the guest and deliver what they are looking for and more.

We need team members who are up to the challenge and the whole HR team has a plan to deliver business success through people. I want to explore more collaboration between the L&D function and hotel operations, workplace coaching and richer, higher performing relationships between colleagues is going to become critical. Making Charles Jennings’ 70:20:10 model a reality in the business is a real drive for me. While everyone has different appetite levels for learning at work, my challenge is shifting learning from push to pull and really getting that critical mass of employees exploring individual, self-directed learning.

Playing to win

Stay connected to your learners. It’s easy to become remote in a silo of like-minded people. Build a network you can tap in to, to test your ideas around content and delivery and keep any silo porous to ideas.

Be a trailblazer. If you are doing your job well, you are going to be challenged. As a specialist, you need to be connected enough to see the future before others and paint a picture your learner will understand. Colleagues can find change and new approaches risky but it is our job to challenge and ensure fit for purpose. Don’t self-edit, don’t tell yourself ‘it won’t work here’. Only if you explore places others don’t will you find amazing solutions to current issues.

I came across a phrase on a Ken Blanchard, Situational Leadership II course which resonated with me, ‘slow down, to go faster.’ Change happens faster than ever these days, especially in the tech field. So while I thrive on change and advancement it’s always worth slowing down for a moment and checking the impact and value of a change about to be made before… going faster.

I use the same approach to evaluation. By nature, I always want to move forward fast. I think that comes from hospitality operations but taking time to slow down and evaluate progress, outcomes and achievements is important. Use the evaluation to reset your directional co-ordinates and then, live in the now. Keep moving forward. The future is the only thing you can change!

I’m still trying to get this right myself. Shout about your successes and your teams so your network knows what you are about. Take the time to celebrate the small wins with your team before moving onto the next project.

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