Director of Human Resources

Grand Kempinski Hotel Shanghai


Kelly, you have recently received an award as Best Female Leader at a prestigious hospitality event. What lead up to this award?

I have been working in Human Resources for over twenty years, five of which in the Kempinski family at the Grand Kempinski Hotel Shanghai. In my career I have had strong, talented female role models who inspired me in my professional development and helped me grow my own personal leadership style. I still remember during my first job how my Director of Human Resources used to inspire and motivate me leading by example. Receiving this award was a humbling experience, and it drives me even more to do my best to inspire the next generation of female leaders, in the Human Resources field and in the hospitality industry. We have a wealth of potential talent, now we just need to discover it!

Your hotel also received an award as Best Employer at the same event. Tell us more about it.

Being a great employer requires an outstanding team of dedicated and passionate professionals to bring the brand’s promise to life, none of this would have been possible without a strong bond with my colleagues. We need to think long-term and strive to adjust to meet the requirements of the future employee market as the workplace landscape continuously shifts. Doing so, allows us to attract and retain our best talent. Our goal is to create an adaptable business culture and an atmosphere that makes your employees want to stay. Kempinski is a well-known and appreciated brand in the Chinese market. Our past and present colleagues, as well as potential candidates, family, and friends, all, backed us up with their votes on the nominations for these awards, and for that, I am truly grateful.

What skills do you think are most important for a leader to develop?

At Kempinski, we are people-oriented, straightforward, and authentic in care. The old adage “take care of your employees, and they will take care of your business” is as important today as it has ever been. People are at the heart of our business, and our driven and multi-talented employees are inspired by authentic leadership. Driving passion for the task at hand and good communication helps ensure a unified approach to service excellence. Leaders create the culture within the workplace, and keeping an open, entrepreneurial mind allows us to craft beautiful performances for our guests, as well as great learning opportunities for our colleagues. Throughout my career, I have observed that great leaders have an uncompromising positivity that each day brings new opportunities for employees to grow and flourish. This unwavering optimism is contagious here at Kempinski, and I see it every day.

What advice would you give aspiring future leaders?

During these challenging times, we need to stand up and lead. We need to lead ourselves as well as others, always putting our best foot forward. As leaders, it is our role to create a culture of service, both for our fellow colleagues and our guests, and with enough patience and determination, together we can overcome any challenge! To be part of a top-performing team, you need to do more than direct and delegate work. Truly effective leaders can recognize the unique strengths of each team member, optimizing and integrating their natural talents to support their professional growth within Kempinski. It is important to create and maintain a connection with colleagues within our hotels and in the industry who have assisted us in crafting this beautiful performance. Not only through leadership, but with modern technology we can do this even better than before.

My advice for tomorrow’s leaders that are being crafted right now is to remember that people may forget what you have done, but they will never forget how you made them feel.