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7 Questions on Leadership with Alan Wilson

Name: Alan Wilson

Title: Director

Organisation: ACW Consultancy Group Ltd

An accomplished Director, Manager and Hospitality Consultant, with over 40 years of experience in building and revitalising businesses across hospitality, travel, holiday parks and entertainment sector.

Able to take autonomous P&L ownership of the operations and projects, having re-established business strategy, developed and implemented new service and products, launched new F&B concepts, and increased profitability.

International business experience, including new hotel openings across the UK, UAE, KSA, Russia and Africa.

Experienced in delivering business change and turnaround via multi-site operational change, acquisitions, integration, start-ups and scale-ups, delivering increased EBITDA and improving overall investor value.

Fellow and Mentor of the Institute of Hospitality (FIH), as a mentor for the IoH I am personally involved in creating and nurturing the next generation of managers, owners and entrepreneurs within hospitality.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Alan's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

Delivering consistency in product and service, in today's market (especially the UK) with an ever changing team,Brexit and a lack of desire to work in the hospitality industry by the youth of today have affected the delivery of consistency.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

Whilst completing my Engineering Qualifications I took a part time job at a Kitchen Porter. I popped my head outside the kitchen door and saw a vibrant new world of people laughing and joking in the bar and restaurant. I peered further down the throngs of people and I saw the General Manager in a suit having a beer with guest, all laughing and joking, and I thought "that's the job for me". I passed my engineering and went full time hospitality, passed all my courses and achieved my first goal of becoming a General Manager and the rest is history.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I set daily plans with a large amount of variable time and space allotted. Hospitality, management and leadership are never controlled by set times etc. as you need to be available for any opportunity or issue that may arise. Set small daily goals that are fully achievable and if time and space allow for an extra 'win' then take it. Family at the end of the day is important so making time for them is most important.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

Whilst being contracted by a company when COVID hit, all the team were off work and only 'key workers' were allowed to go to work. Two of us ran the business from top to toe and it gave me an insight into the modern issues the team come across every day and reminded me of the hard work and daily challenges they face. This allowed me to make some tweaks to way we operate and make life easier on a daily basis for the team to manage.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

I do not read leadership books, I have managed to navigate my own path in life and overcome challenges my way etc. however, a few ago I started to dip my toe in M&A (mergers and acquisitions), and I follow people like Jeremy Harbour, Daniel Priestly and Paul Seabridge who's books I have read and follow their methodologies in buying and selling businesses.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

Trust in your abilities, accept 'knocks' as learning curves, create a strong online presence and remember 'where you started' and every day is a 'learning' day.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

A former boss of mine when I was a General Manager of a hotel during a scheduled P&L & operations visit asked "what have you done for the business?", so...... I answered " I always do budget, I always pass the annual checks etc and I am fully engaged in extra duties", her response was "that is what you are paid for", "what have you done for the business?"

She was talking about succession planning, how many assistant have I created, how many team members are now managers, how many have been promoted for the betterment of themselves and the company. Since that day I changed my outlook instantly and succession planning is at the forefront of my teachings and consultancies.

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