The IHI hosted a leadership seminar to officially launch their mentoring programme, Mentors Matter.

The “Inspiring Impactful Leadership” seminar, held in the stunning 1WML in Windmill Quarter, was opened by Daragh O’Neill, President of the IHI, who reminded us that “hospitality is a people-focused industry, and we need to keep that at the fore of what we do”.

The seminar continued with Oonagh Cremins FIHI of The Innovate Room leading an in-depth video discussion with Niall Gibbons, looking very cool in his Irish jersey despite the 37° temperatures outside, on his new venture as Head of Tourism with NEOM in Saudi Arabia, the biggest tourism construction project in the world for decades. He described his role as “a combination of Failte Ireland and Tourism Ireland all in one”, developing a sustainable luxury tourism product as well as promoting it to the wider world.

When asked what it takes to be a good leader, he responded, “I’m listening all the time.” Niall went on to stipulate that the capacity to listen, take on lots of information, process it and make decisions, and have the courage to change directions are all required.

This was followed by a panel discussion led by Fania Stoney of Great Place to Work Ireland, with Charlie Sheil FIHI, Group GM, Windward Management; Orla McAndrew MIHI, Learning & Development Manager, The Conrad Dublin; Cara Kelly, Director, Technical Programme Management, Toast; and Amanda Hall, Senior Director, Engineering, Toast.

The importance of listening was again mentioned throughout the panel discussion with Charlie Sheil emphasising the need to listen to and learn from those “both above and below”.

Cara Kelly noted the importance of making it easy for both mentors and mentees to participate in mentoring initiatives. This could include “icebreaker” templates, with a list of fun questions to answer at their first meeting. She also emphasised the importance of setting manageable expectations from the start, ie a six month programme, so that people aren’t overwhelmed by the commitment levels.

Amanda Hall pointed out the importance of mentees asking themselves where they want to go and what they want to do. The next step is to then identify who is doing it right now and approach them, seeing if they would be interested in being your mentor. She noted that it doesn’t have to be someone in your industry as many of the same issues and problems are found cross industry. 

Orla McAndrew reminded us that mentors don’t have to be senior level managers, and in fact, many would find great use in a mentor who was simply at the next level of their career progression.

Keynote speaker and transformational change specialist Breda McCague then took to the stage and delivered a rousing piece on how to positively manage change, reminding us that “the constant in our lives is change”.  In addressing the current workforce shortage within the hospitality industry, she emphasised the need to meet the desires and expectations of the younger generation – flexibility, feeling respected and valued, an exciting future, and empowerment & purpose – and mentoring being a key piece in fulfilling these.

If you are interested in participating in the IHI’s Mentors Matters programme as either a mentor or mentee, contact