Taste of Travel Interview: Mike Pooley

Taste of Travel Interview: Mike Pooley

Mike Pooley of The Hayward Partnership, specialises in recruitment, consultancy, coaching opportunities and non-exec positions in and around the travel catering and retail industry sector.

This year, at WTCE’s Taste of Travel Theatre, he will join a panel featuring Sinje Wojahn, LSG Group and Sarah Gobind-Cook, SATS to discuss whether sustainability is increasingly relevant in recruiting and retaining talent.

Please introduce the topic you’ll be covering in your Taste of Travel Theatre sessions and why it’s currently so important?

“I’m privileged to do a session which is about people and the process of managing talent in our current industry sector. Sustainability, of course, is a broad topic where there are many touchpoints. And mine is very much about the workspace in the aviation services sector today and bringing people in. 

We know the scrutiny the aviation sector is always under in regard to its impact on the environment. I’m looking at people who make a difference and will continue to make a difference as the organisations around the sector address the bigger issue of Net Zero topics. 

“Honesty and transparency are going to be key.”

Mike Pooley, The Hayward Partnership

I will be leading a discussion around talent, accessibility and retention in the sector. I think this is a rather unique topic for Taste of Travel. Normally, sessions are more product-centric or topical. This is much more about a people-focused agenda.”

What specifics will your session cover?

“We’re lucky enough in this session to have some real expertise in the room. Joining me will be Sinje Wojahn, a group HR responsible at the LSG Group — a global operation servicing airlines all over the world.

She will be bringing one of her graduate trainees, a sustainability champion. And I will also be inviting a sustainability champion, Sarah Gobind-Cook, from the SATs organisation — another big global operation, servicing aviation in Asia Pacific and with other businesses related to the aviation sector worldwide. 

They’re going be talking to us about the importance of companies addressing sustainability and the agenda around that. Our industry’s been in incredible flux since the pandemic, so organisations are resetting, hiring, and having to restructure their businesses. They’re having to focus on this sustainability agenda because airline customers put that right at the top of most discussions around product development, the supply chain and so on. 

“Having a corporate strategy that is focusing more on credentials like ESG and CSR is going to become more normal.”

Mike Pooley, The Hayward Partnership

We’re looking at people who can bring intelligence, energy and enthusiasm to that debate and help the organisations to look for the right kind of people and to understand their requirements. The job market has changed and the people that I talked to are very concerned about working in businesses where the culture and the fit is driven towards a more sustainable agenda.

Whether they’re going to join the business in a sustainability role or not; it’s still relevant.

Is the business doing the right things in terms of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), and hiring the right kind of people to drive its own sustainability agenda? 

We’re not just talking about sustainability professionals joining the industry but about how that organisation onboards, retains, develops and trains people.

What makes them compelled to stay within the sector once they’ve joined it.”

Who is the session relevant for/who will find it helpful?

“I hope it appeals to a broad group of attendees. We would love to get leaders and managers into the debate because whether they are heads of inflight, a head of procurement, in sales and business development, in marketing or insight roles; those are the people that are attracted by WTCE.

These people need to keep a keen eye on their topic, what’s developing in their area and really value and appreciate the young professionals coming into the sector who want to “swim in that stream”. There is an emphasis on hiring in the right capacity, with the right capability to manage these hot topics.

“A lot of our industry is, quite rightly, very operationally-focused and very profit-driven.”

Mike Pooley, The Hayward Partnership

We’re asking for a new breed of employee who are looking for a slightly different work experience and are, in terms of guarding the environment, far better equipped and far more eloquent.

We want both that focused business community to see how that balances with the obvious commercial and profitability goals all businesses have.”

What are the key session takeaways/what will people learn?

We want to share insight. We’ve got people who really know this subject on both sides of the interview table — from the candidates enquiring and the businesses hiring. We’re looking to turn the spotlight on the ambitious sustainability professionals who can add energy and focus to organisations at a time when there are:

  • More sustainability topics
  • More debates
  • More requirements from their client base

We’ll be providing tips on onboarding and retention. The target audience will be curious; they’ll be asking intelligent and appropriate questions and they want the same from HR and managers in the interview process. The debate will be around the challenges in profiling a job so that you’re attracting relevant attention.”

What does the future of this new generation of sustainability specialists and leaders look like?

“Sustainability is not going to go away. In all aspects of the aviation community, there’s always going to be a greater need to look at the calibre of people being attracted into the industry from somewhere else.

We still need great operators, caterers, chefs, and product development people. But we will need a different kind of broader mindset that’s tuned in to debating in a motivated and articulate way what it is to be an environmental champion.

What that means in terms of participation and inclusion within the workforce. Having a corporate strategy that is focusing more on credentials like ESG and CSR is going to become more normal.

And therefore you know the requirement for that kind of talent in acquisition and recruitment is not going to go away. So those people coming in are going to want similar minds and aspirations within the culture that they’re joining. There’s a focus on organisations to do their bit as well, so I would expect clear and structured leadership and planning around bringing new people into the industry. Honesty and transparency are going to be key.”

Why is the Taste of Travel theatre so important/helpful in getting this message across?

“I’ve benefited from the Taste of Travel Theatre as both an audience participant and also as being previously involved in panels. There’s a responsibility on Taste of Travel as a concept to deliver something new, stimulating, and educational.

To allow us to prioritise these issues, to allow for Q&A so questions can be addressed in real time; that’s at the heart of what Taste of Travel should be about. This topic is not the only sustainability one on the agenda, but it’s a unique one.

I think Taste of Travel is an essential point in busy schedules that everybody has at WTCE, to listen, network and find out what’s going on. For me it’s a spotlight.

To source the ideas, products and solutions and to tantalise the senses to create an onboard experience that dazzles the passenger, register to attend WTCE today.

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World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE) is the leading global event for travel catering, onboard retail and passenger comfort. WTCE is renowned globally for providing a platform for innovative suppliers to showcase the latest products and services in passenger comfort, catering and travel retail to help create the ultimate passenger experience.