Page 2 - VOICE October 2014

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In the summer of 2013 I visited Thailand, staying at a
Starwood resort. The resort and the people who
worked there delivered a great product with a very
high standard of service. I was eager to find out how
they achieved this high standard and in particular the
role that leadership and values played in delivering
such a successful culture and I was fortunate enough
to have the opportunity to interview Sawanee
Areephan following my stay at the resort. Sawanee
Areephan is a senior leader
within StarwoodHotels and Re-
sorts and currently the Hotel
Manager at W Bangkok. When I
met her as the Hotel Manager at
A Luxury Col-
lection Resort & Spa, Phuket, she
was responsible for managing
up to 250 people who work for
the resort and has been with
Starwood since 1997 having
previously worked for Dusit Ho-
tels & Resorts. I asked her to
share her thoughts on leadership, working as a senior
female leader in Asia and her thoughts about working
successfully in a multi-cultural global organisation.
What are your values and how do you apply them
to your leadership style and approach?
I aim to give my team a clear direction and spend time
communicating to engage them in the vision that I
have for the resort. My leadership values are also a
critical element in the successful delivery of this vi-
sion;
The first value is
passion.
For me, this is about ex-
ceeding guest’s expectations and passing on that cul-
ture and passion to the team so that it is reflected in
their own behaviours.
Another one of my values is
happiness.
It’s important
to show happiness because if you are unhappy you
cannot do your job as well as when you are happy.
Respect,
as another value, is about taking the opinion
of others and encouraging their input. This is part of
the way that I build a relationship with those that I
lead. It helps me build a relationship based on trust,
respect and confidence in my leadership.
This respect for my team means I can work hard to
develop my People
and ensure that the culture that I
have helped to develop at the resort is self-sustaining.
In turn this helps me to deliver on my value of
Suc-
cess.
I engage further in the value of success by asking
my team members to think about the resort as their
own business and to care for the culture, their col-
leagues and the clients.
In addition to my values, I understand that, as a senior
leader, I am also a role model to those I lead. I always
try to role model my values and the behaviours that I
expect of others because I believe that this is the most
powerful way to engage my people.
As a successful senior Asian leader what thoughts
would you like to share with other leaders work-
ing in multi-cultural global organisations?
For me, having cultural agility is a key leadership skill
so my leadership style flexes with the different cul-
I can work hard to develop my
People and ensure that the culture
that I have helped to develop at the
resort is self-sustaining. In turn this
helps me to deliver on my value of
Success.”
Respect, as another value, is about
taking the opinion of others and
encouraging their input. This is part
of the way that I build a relationship
with those that I lead. It helps me
build a relationship based on trust,
respect and confidence in my
leadership. ”
I aim to give my team a clear
direction and spend time
communicating to engage them in
the vision that I have for the resort.
My leadership values are also a
critical element in the successful
delivery of this vision. ”
Leadership Interview with
Sawanee Areephan