Jon Dawson: Leading with a Strategic Approach to Employee Engagement Across All Business Constituents

Jon Dawson
Jon Dawson | Group Director of People Development | Lore Group

People often say they leave lousy managers, but is it ever asked if those managers were given the support, skills, and information they needed to succeed? Managing employees takes time and demands certain skills. Many business owners lack competence in human resources.

The fundamental difficulty for every Chief People Officer is to figure out how to improve as people managers and leaders so that employee retention, performance, motivation, and engagement may all improve. The real winners are the managers who can give their employees what they want while also giving the company what it wants; they can provide solutions that benefit everyone.

One such manager is Jon Dawson, the Group Director of People Development at Lore Group, a multinational hospitality firm that creates, converts, manages, and operates hotel and food and beverage concepts in prominent European and American cities.

We at CIO Look approached Jon to give us his valuable insights about his achievements and challenges in this edition of “The 10 Most Influential HR Leaders To Follow, 2022.”

Below are the highlights of the interview:

Brief our audience about your journey as a business leader until your current position at Lore Group. What challenges have you had to overcome to reach where you are today?

Prior to joining Lore Group in 2020, I led the Human Resources function and strategy through a significant redevelopment and relaunched the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park London and One Hyde Park Residences, which operate within the luxury hotel and residence sectors. I also launched the London EDITION as the Director of Employee Experience and was part of the team that introduced the brand in New York and Miami.

I started my career with Marriott International, and I am grateful for the strong foundation and opportunities Marriott provided me, including opening the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel in 2010 in the role of HR Director. In my current role at Lore Group, I am the group’s People & Development Director, responsible for the people strategy for the countries we own and operate hotels within. I was attracted to the group as it displays a start-up mentality with a desire to create more hotels as we continue to evolve.

Tell us something more about Lore Group and its mission and vision.

Lore Group is an international hospitality company that designs, transforms, manages, and operates hotel and food and drink concepts in notable cities across Europe and the United States. Thoughtful design and interesting use of space are at the core of everything we do as a brand. Our portfolio includes Riggs Washington DC, Lyle Washington DC, Pulitzer Amsterdam, Sea Containers London, and the recently opened One Hundred Shoreditch. We strive to create storied hotels for the long term, both for our teams and our guests.

A significant part of our identity is the pride we have in people – we endeavor to attract the best talent in hospitality to help deliver extraordinary experiences for our guests. Property-wise, we look for unique opportunities in major cities which we then bring to life by creating hotels that remain true to their architecture, design, and community.

Enlighten us on how you have impacted Hospitality through your expertise in the market.

As someone who is known for pushing boundaries and trying new things within both the people and hospitality professions, I’m fortunate that I work with a very inspirational CEO and fantastic teams both at our group office and within our hotels. I love the creative side of my job and working to inspire the next generation of hospitality professionals while attracting best-in-class talent to our teams.

Undeniably, technology is playing a significant role in almost every sector. How are you leveraging technological advancements to make your solutions resourceful?

Thanks to technology, travelers and prospective guests now know more about a property prior to staying than they ever did before – in addition to leaving traditional reviews, guests can provide an honest view of hotels via their social media posts. Technology is hugely important to Lore Group; we recently created a new Technology Director role that focuses on ensuring technology is a key enabler for enhancing our guest and employee experience.

What change would you like to bring to the Hotel Operations if given a chance?

For the team at Lore, it would be a combination of a new city for us to open a hotel within and the ability to design and deliver an entirely new concept – something that would shift the hospitality landscape in a city through design and product and guest experience. It would be the type of new hotel that becomes synonymous with the city’s hospitality scene and has a mix of best-in-class, imaginative design, and strong F&B; ultimately, it would come down to our people. Without excellent people in our properties, we couldn’t deliver the level of service for which we strive.

What, according to you, could be the next significant change in the Design sector? How is your company preparing to be a part of that change?

We are very much a design-driven group, so it’s hugely important to us. Jacu Strauss, our Creative Director, and Caitriona O’Sullivan, our Design Director, work exceptionally well with their teams on the conception, design, and launch of new projects. Having the design function in-house means that their work continues post-launch, so our hotels are constantly evolving and being updated. They are not driven by trends; rather, they focus on doing what is best for any property in the long term, in addition to considering the location and the local community.

Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run, and what are your future goals for Lore Group?

As a relatively new group, a large part of our identity is the pride we have in our people – we always look to attract the best talent in the industry to help us deliver extraordinary experiences, and I look forward to leading this for the group in the long term. Our future goals are certainly to be an employer of choice for hospitality professionals and a go-to for travelers looking for unique experiences in some of the most vibrant cities in the world. Our people are at the center of everything we do at Lore Group, and this won’t change as we continue to grow and evolve.

What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the business sector?

The world and workplace have seen significant changes post-pandemic; therefore, it’s important to be open to change. Never be afraid to try something new, and you must always be prepared to work hard if you want to create long-term success.