Director, Global Leadership Development – InterContinental Hotels Group
“For me, merging coaching and NLP was an obvious choice; the skills I needed to help me on the next stage of my journey to then help other people grow.”
“I’ve been in the hospitality business since I was seven years old. That was how old I was when my parents opened their own restaurant in Lleida, near Barcelona. We lived just across the road and I spent my childhood immersed in the business. My father taught me how to read a room, how to understand what people want and most importantly the importance of building genuine rapport.
“Later, I studied tourism and hotel management at university, before doing a Masters in Human Resources Management & Leadership Development. I joined InterContinental after that. I have been very fortunate to work all over the world with them since then.
“Perhaps surprisingly, though, it’s not only the business side of hospitality that drives me. That’s just the channel I use for my true passion. Hospitality is all about people. I’ve always been fascinated by how people worked, how they grow, how they live their purpose, and playing a role in helping people succeed. When I studied hotel management, I wasn’t just carrying on the family business, I saw the potential of having access to a dynamic industry that would allow me to coach and develop people from very diverse walks of life.
“I remember as a teenager volunteering for a number of charities, but feeling a bit frustrated at how little difference we seemed to made. I wanted to be working in an environment where I felt I could make a much bigger and positive impact on people’s lives. At one time or another, I considered diplomacy and conflict resolution. Who knows, I may still one day!
“After my Masters, I moved to the UK, where I started working for IHG. Even then, I had my mind set on developing my skills such as coaching, NLP or Neuroscience, but I felt first that I needed to get more life experience, make a start on my career and improve my English.
“Over the course of 18 months, in my late 20s, I worked with ITS, becoming a Master NLP Practitioner and doing the coaching course.
“It was a fascinating experience seeing the diverse range of people there and their reasons for engaging with NLP. As the youngest on my course, I realised that my age made some people look at me as if I was too young to be learning the techniques and to be positioning myself as a coach for others. And that in itself was instructive – to be shown how the coaching and mentoring we can offer others is mediated by their perceptions of us and how we need to adjust our approach to reach people.
“The biggest immediate impact for me was on the language preferences people use at work with colleagues. I recognised that some people are more ‘towards people’, like me, while others are ‘away from’. A little example on how I understood that my view of the world wasn’t universally shared, that people’s approach to decision making, to risk, to their potential, is unique to them and you need to understand that to be able to build rapport with them in the most authentic way.
“It’s something especially important in my job. I work in a global business where customer service is paramount. Some other businesses may focus their coaching and development offering mostly on senior leaders only.
“But my role is all about focusing on the wider team, those colleagues based in hotels, in Reception, Housekeeping or F&B outlets for example. Those individuals work very hard to make a difference to our guests every day. Those colleagues are the ones we need to inspire so they deliver their best work day in day out. I’ve personally done some of those jobs and trust me, they deserve all the kudos and recognition. Being at service of others is the most selfless choice of all, these colleagues do it effortlessly and with a genuine smile. My aim is to support them to fulfill their potential and ambitions, I want everyone to feel proud of their work and to feel respected and valued.
“And that’s when NLP comes in. My career has given me the opportunity to help tens of thousands of people to grow, develop and be their best selves. To fully embrace that opportunity and help people in every level of the organisation, at every stage of their career, I needed to understand how to connect to other’s personal map of the world so that I can talk to them in the way that connects with them.
“This for me is what I took from my NLP experience. It’s not about the individual tools, some may work for you, some may not, but whatever does work, you take it, you practice it and you live it.
I wish I could say the tools are magic, they are not. It’s all about what you do with what you are given. You be it first and only then do you teach it and share it.
“I’m still that same little girl in the restaurant, fascinated by people and eager to make the world better. Only now I’m working on a bigger scale, taking the skills I’ve learned and being able to watch my work ripple out to everyone in the business and all the people they meet. That’s what living your purpose looks like for me.”