"Use their language, not language from an HR text book."

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Taking on a new role is as challenging as it is exciting. In this series we will be talking to HR professionals who are getting to grips with a new job and finding out what attracted them to the role, as well as what their key priorities are for the months ahead. Want to tell us about a new role you're getting stuck into? Get in touch.

Hannah Thomson has recently been appointed as People Director at Travelodge. She began her career at John Lewis, where she held a range of roles in operations and human resources, before going on to senior HR roles within several large corporations. 

Shonette Laffy, HRZone: First, tell us a bit about your past roles & experience.

I began my career at the John Lewis Partnership as a children’s shoe-fitter at Peter Jones. I went on to hold a range of roles within the department store division, including HR roles in distribution and new store openings, finally working across both John Lewis and Waitrose as head of the group’s HR transformation programme at that time, and latterly as Head of HR for the Group functions.

Following my time with the Partnership, I was divisional HRD for the UK with the car rental operator Avis / Budget UK, and Group HRD at Safestore plc and the Wyevale Garden Centres group.

Shonette Laffy, HRZone: What attracted you to this role?

Travelodge’s mission to build the favourite hotel for value is a clear and compelling strategy that involves every one of our 10,000 people in delivering a great customer experience.  

With a significant people agenda to deliver across over 544 hotels in the UK, Ireland and Spain - there’s a lot to get stuck into. I’m part of a great team, working as part of a recognised brand and with a tremendous growth story.  What’s not to love?!

Shonette Laffy, HRZone: What aspects of the role are you looking forward to getting your teeth into first?

Our people are the key to our success and I am looking forward to meeting as many members of our 10,000-strong team as possible. Meeting them in hotels and seeing their day-to-day challenges first hand is important in ensuring that I fully understand our business and stay close to the needs of our people.

Shonette Laffy, HRZone: What would you say will be your main priorities for the coming year?

The people at Travelodge make the difference to the 18 million customers we cater for each year. To do this we need great people who thrive on delivering a great customer experience.

Seeing their day-to-day challenges first hand is important in ensuring that I fully understand our business

I’ll be taking the lead in developing our teams, ensuring they understand the career paths that we offer and putting in place attractive contractual arrangement with appropriate reward & recognition programmes in order to cement Travelodge’s reputation as a great place to work.

Shonette Laffy, HRZone: What are you main passions or things you champion within HR?

Keep things simple and practical. Multi-site businesses need to be able to scale and embed initiatives and processes quickly and consistently.

Ensuring everything produced from the People team feels relevant and grounded in the reality of the day-to-day work of our teams in hotels is essential. Use their language, not language from an HR text book.

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