Editorial Board   Guest Author

Ms. Jacobs

Heather Jacobs

VP Human Resources Europe/Middle East/ Africa, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts

Heather Jacobs first started with Four Seasons by working summers - initially as a Front Office Intern in 1992 at the Ritz-Carlton Chicago and then as Hostess in 1993 at the Four Seasons Los Angeles. She began her career in earnest as a Manager In Training in 1994 in the Rooms Division of the Ritz-Carlton Chicago (a Four Seasons Hotel). She then made her way to Human Resources via Housekeeping and the Front Office, and was appointed Human Resources Manager in 1995. In November 1996, Ms. Jacobs relocated to The Pierre Hotel (then a Four Seasons Hotel), starting as Employee Relations & Benefits Manager, Assistant Director and then, Director of Human Resources in October 1998. Interested in the global aspects of Human Resources, Heather was promoted to Director of Human Resources Administration in January 2000, helping develop and implement global Human Resources policies, procedures and competitive practices. She has helped to shepherd the employment brand and has instilled the Four Seasons culture into our international portfolio, all with an eye to aligning HR practices with the global business strategies of the company. In June 2004, Ms. Jacobs and her family relocated to Geneva, Switzerland as Area Director of Human Resources for Europe, the Middle East and Africa where she tackled the complex issues of new development, pre-opening assistance, and general Human Resources responsibilities. Ms. Jacobs was promoted to Vice President in July 2007. In her current role, she assists in the selection and development of Senior leaders for the region and leads the Human Resources professionals in 30 properties, spanning over 20 countries with responsibility for more than 10,000 employees. In this role she has responsibility for the development and implementation of Human Resources policy, process and procedure including recruitment, selection, retention, learning and development, legal compliance, employee benefits, employee relations, employment practices and procedures, and employee communications. Ms. Jacobs holds a BS, Hotel Management, Cornell University, 1994. She is a Certified Global Professional in Human Resources (“GPHR”) - 2006, and active with the International Tourism Partnership, acting as Chair of Executive Committee 2012-2014. She has been on the Executive Committee since 2005 (leading hospitality companies dedicated to environmental and social responsibility in the industry).

Ms. Jacobs can be contacted at 41-22-707-8274 or heather.jacobs@fourseasons.com

Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.