New Recruit: James Young
James Young is something of an IHG veteran, having served the international hotel group for more than two decades. He returns to Qatar, after leaving the country in 2004, when he held the position of resident manager for the InterContinental Doha
Could you tell us how you began your journey in the hospitality industry, was it your first choice?
I came into the industry by accident, I started working in hotels in London to earn some money to go travelling before I went to university. I enjoyed it so much I decided to study hotel management instead of history.
What led you to join InterContinental Hotel Group?
I spent much of my childhood travelling and living overseas as my father was a diplomat. I was aware of InterContinental from an early age as it was in every location we visited. It was a natural progression for me to join the company when I left hotel school.
What has kept you with the company for more than two decades?
I can narrow it down to three key things: the career opportunities, focus on people, and the many great friendships I have made around the world over the years.
Talk us through your journey across different countries and properties through your career?
I have always wanted to travel as part of my life and this career has given me great opportunities to do so. I started off in London but have also worked in Paris, Moscow, Bahrain, Malta, Doha, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Vietnam as my career progressed. Along with my wife, we spent a long time in the Middle East as our children grew up here and received outstanding schooling as well — I am always grateful to IHG and the owners of hotels for providing us with that opportunity.
Having spent three years in Doha — from 2001 to 2004 — what do you remember from then, and how has the market evolved since?
I remember the warm and friendly welcome we received and the sense that this was a destination on the move; at the time there were very few hotels but one could see how projects were going to develop. Today, there is more demand and more supply but there are exciting events as well, especially the FIFA World Cup in 2022 to look forward to with confidence.
What are three things that excite you the most about the InterContinental Doha The City?
The people, the opportunity to work with our owners to develop the business, and the combination of hotel and residences — something which gives us great flexibility in the market.
Having spent a few weeks at the property, what are three aspects you wish to change at the property?
I think it is too early to say this with any certainty after two weeks but change is constant in our industry and a vital part of keeping the business competitive.
What are some of your most significant achievements throughout your career?
I can point to the awards I have won as a hotel general manager, the most significant being my hotel, the InterContinental Saigon, winning Asia’s Leading Business Hotel at the 2015 World Travel Awards. But that only tells part of the story, what gives me the most pride is the teams I have built and the people I have been able to develop through my career. To see them becoming successful gives me a great sense of achievement.