Felicity Black-Roberts, Hyatt “We are able to quickly react to new opportunities”

5 min reading time

Published on 28/06/24 - Updated on 28/06/24

Hyatt Hotel Corporation

Interview with Felicity Black-Roberts; formerly the Vice President Development for Western Europe, she has been promoted to SVP Development for EAME. She joins Peter Norman, whos has been leading Hyatt’s development efforts in the region since 2006. He has been appointed as the SVP Corporate Development and Owner Relations for EAME, where he will focus on strategic owner relations and portfolio expansion.

With these two promotions, Hyatt is willing to better position Hyatt EAME to deliver on its growth objectives – offering a more localized and customized approach. In 2023, Hyatt had created a new regional transactions role and appointed Jaime de la Mata as Vice President Portfolio Development and Transactions EAME to drive inorganic asset light growth

Considering the diverse nature of the markets on your territory—with Europe being very mature, the Middle East growing rapidly, and Africa being highly heterogeneous—what strategy would you implement to ensure growth across all these regions?

“One aspect of working for a global company across the Europe Africa and Middle East (EAME) region, is understanding that no two markets are the same, meaning there is certainly no “one strategy fits all” approach. As Hyatt continues to grow, we are working hard to ensure we remain close to local development and ownership communities, primarily through building our leadership presence in regional markets. With leaders dedicated to deals across the globe, we can react quickly to new opportunities.”

Given the significant challenges you are to face, what would be your immediate actions and the rationale behind them?

“With designated deal leaders located in priority growth markets, alongside Peter Norman, Corporate Development and Owner Relations for EAME Hyatt has its finger on the pulse when it comes to finding and securing new opportunities. Having this strategy in place means we are able to quickly react to new opportunities, whilst simultaneously dedicating time to fostering an engaged ownership and franchise base.”

You've successfully established a presence in Stockholm. Can you share the timeline and plans for expanding to Oslo with a new Hyatt hotel?

“We are excited about the ongoing work Hyatt is doing to develop its presence in key Nordic markets, including Oslo, Copenhagen and Helsinki. With strong brand awareness and loyalty in a number of high yielding feeder markets, we are confident in our ability to bring value to owners and franchisees in these markets. What’s more, building a presence in these markets will increase Hyatt’s reputation, positively impacting performance further afield. We are already seeing this in Sweden where Hyatt is widely recognised as a favourite international hotel chain, primarily due to Hyatt’s design-focused lifestyle properties in the region and beyond. “

Could you highlight the key milestones in your career that have led you to your current position?

“Moving to Hyatt in 2016 has been a turning point in my career. I’ve been here for coming on eight years, and I am still learning from the people around me every day. Hyatt’s purpose of care is embedded into everything we do and is something I have felt from day one. It is also completely aligned with the way I like to work and lead. I see great value in the mistakes I’ve made along the way and the lessons I’ve drawn from these experiences, as this is what truly builds both knowledge and confidence as a leader.”

Some of your colleagues have mentioned that they are experiencing their best moments at Hyatt. Do you share this sentiment? Could you elaborate on your reasons?

“It comes as no surprise that Hyatt is a company that facilitates progression, knowledge sharing, and passion for the work we are doing. The period of impressive growth that we are currently experiencing only adds to this, as there is more opportunity than ever before for our colleagues. In particular, the opening up of a number of our brands to franchisees has led to significant growth of Hyatt’s brand presence in EAME.

Our new Group President, Javier Aguila, has paved the way for further investment in our “back office” infrastructure, including a dedicated franchisee support team and a new area operations structure. This, along with some notable brand additions in the last ten years, including Thompson, means there are many opportunities for personal growth within the region; understandably very exciting for colleagues across the business.

The creation of my new role as SVP Development for EAME, alongside that of Peter Norman as SVP Corporate Development and Owner Relations for EAME, will allow us to continue growing our brands in popular markets, as well as providing greater focus on our relationships with owners and franchisees.”

Where do you envision Hyatt to be in the next two years?

“With a record global pipeline of 129,000 rooms, an ever-increasing World of Hyatt membership of 46 million, and a growing regional team, we are ideally positioned to continue our expansion in EAME. There is certainly room for growth, but I have no doubt in our potential to reach more markets than ever before, particularly as we reach milestone projects like the opening of Park Hyatt London River Thames this year and are looking forward to the roll-out of our Thompson brand beyond Spain.”

Being a woman in a SVP position in the hospitality industry, would you like to share some advises to other women?

“Having started my career in the male dominated industry of chartered surveying, I have dealt with my fair share of unfair treatment in the workplace. Back then, I would simply get on with it, focused solely on progressing in my role. 30 years later, it is encouraging to see so many incredible female role models, alongside progressive companies like Hyatt that have worked hard to maintain equal opportunities for all colleagues, no matter the gender, race, sexuality or otherwise.

One piece of advice I would give is simply to be open to and seize opportunities that come your way. It’s never too late to go after the career you want, but it won’t always be handed to you; have the determination and confidence to forge a career that you are passionate about. This is exactly what I did.

As I progress, I also understand more the value of looking at issues from a different perspective. This has allowed me to understand the people around me, growing my perspective at the same time.”

Hyatt Hotels Corporation

Hyatt Hotels Corporation

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  • Hyatt Hotels Corporation United-States
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