Who are you and what is your current position?
• Katy Grêlé – HR Director of LEGOLAND Windsor
How did you get to this position…..what was the pathway and what did you do before?
• I started my career in sales & marketing within hotels before re-training and moving into HR. I worked initially as a Personnel Officer before a stint as a Training manager and then became the HR Manager of the Intercontinental London. When the hotel closed for a refurbishment, I saw an advert for HRD of LEGOLAND saying “do you want a job that is fun” and jumped at the chance!
What are the challenges in this job?
• The biggest challenge is having an operating calendar that runs for 8 months of the year (the theme park is open from March to the start of November) rather than 12 months like most other businesses; for example, we go from 160 permanent staff in the winter, to around 1,500 staff during peak season and then return to 160 at the end of every year.
Who has influenced you most in your career and why?
• Anne Scott who was the Group HR Director for Sheraton Hotels UK. She made HR strategic and exciting to me and presented it as a real career option. I learnt how fundamental it is to the business and it went from being “Personnel” to true HR. She also gave HR a sense of humour which is something I try to bring to my team……although it is often the other way around!
What do you do to switch off?
• My passion is running – particularly off road and the muddier the better! My next challenge is walking however, when I will be joining a team to walk along the “Pilgrim’s Way.” We will be doing 33 miles per day for 2 days along the route (there is the option to run it, but I am leaving that to the ultra marathon runners….maybe next year).
Any Pearls of Wisdom or strategies for success that you would like to share?
• I love the fact that our company (Merlin Entertainments Group) is so open and honest; if you want to know something you just have to ask, and we really believe in just telling it like it is. It makes doing business so much easier because you generally get a straight answer (even if you don’t like it!). This organisation is full of vibrant, energetic, exciting people and it just floods through every site and attraction. So my pearl of wisdom would be work somewhere that you think is wonderful and do something that you love!
What do you consider to be the current trends within the visitor attraction industry?
• I think technology is playing an increasing role in the traditional family day out. For example, in Merlin Entertainments, we work hard to deliver memorable experiences to our guests and to add value to their visit; technology is playing a huge part in this (enhancing experiences through our website, and through sites like Facebook and Twitter) but also we are coming up with more and more innovations such as Atlantis ride that we have opened at LEGOLAND Windsor this year (a cross between a Sealife Centre and a theme park ride), and iphone/smart phone apps that help people to get the most out of their day. It’s important that we keep innovating so that we can continue to deliver amazing days out.