A genuine love for people. Megan Capstick 

 

Experience has taught me that an enthusiastic person shows emotion within the first few minutes of a chat. In the case of Megan Capstick, I did not need to wait for the first few minutes. It was instant.

Megan Capstick

Megan is the Deputy Director of Human Resources (HR) at Corinthia, London. She explained that her duties could be grouped under three main categories: HR, Learning & Development, and Recruitment. ‘Undoubtedly, my passion is HR. It’s all about people and that is where my heart is. Making people happy at work and supporting them in their requirements and needs on the job. I can see and touch the results and that for me is very rewarding. Seeing the world change so much, I try as much as possible to introduce adaptations that reflect this shift and impact on people’s life at work.

At the moment, we are 550 colleagues. We have now reached pre-pandemic levels. With these numbers, it is essential to never lose sight of the individual whilst addressing the group. The individual is, after all, the cornerstone of our organisation.’

These words led me to quote from an enlightening book, The Spirit of Corinthia, by Alfred Pisani, Corinthia’s chairman: ‘We must look at our people not merely as employees upon whom our survival depends, but as individuals brought together by destiny who can help to develop as human beings within one family.’ Again, in a similar vein, he adds: ‘The true power lies in helping your colleague achieve the full potential and encouraging them to do the same with the people they manage.’

I queried how, in her position, Megan shared the responsibility of ensuring the welfare of her Corinthia colleagues. How did she see that this philosophy is commuted into practice?

Megan (second from left) with work team

‘Here in Corinthia London, we are blessed with genuine care for one another. We are an amazing team, but this does not happen by any magic wand. It starts from recruitment stage. When recruiting colleagues, we try to detect this caring element in them and nurture it from a very early stage. Once they journey within Corinthia, people are inspired by others who behave very positively, which inspires and motivates them to be the best versions of themselves at work. My passion for hospitality has come from working with people who genuinely love their work. And that excites me.

One particular Corinthian is: ‘No matter how long you stay with us, you walk out of our doors a little brighter and a little better.’ This, for me, is something very particular. We do not just want people to become better with us. We want them to leave our Hotel better than when they joined; so it’s all about becoming a better person through one’s experience with us. These are not just meaningless words; they encapsulate a genuine aim for our organisation. 

Sharing our knowledge is not a hackneyed expression but a real compelling mission. Caring is a very enlightening and proactive mission, even at the end of a Corinthian journey.’

When dealing with a sizeable group of persons, one may fail to retain the individual in the fore. How does she see that a correct focus is maintained?

Megan was quick on the draw. ‘We are very connected with our goals and what we want to achieve. That makes us move more securely in the right direction. Our missions may vary from trying to be the best in F&B to being one of the top spas. But what is very particular about us is that when we commit ourselves as a body, this commitment is ingrained in each of us, making it not just a group aim but a personal goal. The individual thus becomes the cornerstone of a group message.

‘In Orientation, I make it a point to remember each person by name and keep in mind personal characteristics that help me know them as individuals and maintain a personal connection. Being colleagues does not only mean working in the same organisation but also, as much as possible, being aware of personal traits that join us together.

So yes, every small step directed to familiarise with an individual helps retain the personal bond that strengthens the group.’

Megan explained how a process that sifts, clarifies and offers better direction reduces the distance between executives and colleagues. In London, there is a group of senior managers who have been chosen to support the executive team and ensure that the messages reach colleagues in an effective manner and form; messages that the business wants to make clear, steady commitments, and informed directions. This group of about 12 senior managers acts as a bridge between the management and executive teams. Messages or directions move up to the executives and vice versa, ensuring a better awareness of what is going on and a clear way of sharing thoughts and beliefs, which can be the basis of change of ideas, coherent directives and clarity of aims.

I expressed my complete admiration for this idea. ‘Oh, it was a brainchild of our Managing Director, Thomas Kochs. He’s an amazing leader. He regularly inspires us with new ideas, innovative approaches and directions. He is the fountain of great knowledge and has a unique way of seeing things through, taking shape and affecting the organisation.

Megan’s down-to-earth way of speaking hides a rich academic background. She graduated from Bournemouth University and earned a bachelor’s degree in Tourism Management. She is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personal Development and has also obtained qualifications in coaching and Mental Health First Aid.

During her university internship, she joined Corinthia. Megan recalled this experience with a broad smile. ‘When I was choosing where I should join as an intern, some of my friends directed me to another hotel, saying that I should not miss such an opportunity. But I did not follow their advice. I was smitten by the people at Corinthia. I found them kind and very helpful, so I followed my gut feeling. And I have been proved right.’

Recently, Megan won Corinthia London’s Uplifting Lives of the Year Award. Could she elaborate on the philosophy of ‘Uplifting Lives‘? Why is such a philosophy beneficial for a commercial enterprise? Why was she chosen?

The philosophy behind ‘Uplifting Lives’ is simple. Its title is precisely its content. It is all about uplifting and bettering the lives of others. This is the very reason why I preferred Corinthia and enjoy working here. We know that if colleagues are happy within the work environment, they will offer their best. We are aware that this way of behaviour does not only enrich each one of us at a personal level but also helps create a better culture. This philosophy is real, and it starts from the very top. It begins its journey from our Managing Director and permeates across every corner. It is all about what we should do to help others and create this stream of bettering conditions, expectations, relationships, assistance, and so many other things that together form an ambience within which we work. Why did they choose me? Most probably it’s because of some changes which I have suggested. But I must add that credit should also be given to those who have accepted my suggestions. 

I have taken a strong initiative in introducing our charity partner, ‘Spread a Smile’, which has introduced a fresh new drive to assist others and give back to those in need in society. It is not just financial assistance. ‘Spread a Smile’ is such an enlightening organisation based on a very simple premise: how can we spread smiles for children who are in need? But it does not stop there. We extend our energies to the families of those children since every need of a child affects the whole family, including parents and siblings.’

 I reminded Megan of a message which I had come across where she announced that she was joining a marathon in aid of Spread a Smile. ‘Oh yes, I recall that. There are 1000 ways one can help ‘Spread a Smile’. When I first met this organisation, I realised we had a thing in common. We were trying to spread a smile amongst our guests, and they were extending this to children and their families. Making people happy is such a straightforward message that it sounds almost artificial. But it is not. It is a direction that makes each of us participate in meeting the needs of others. It makes us present. It gives us a face within a context. We become a bridge which delivers a humane answer to a human need. In reality, I do not help ‘Spread a Smile’. It is ‘Spread a Smile’ that helps me and all my colleagues by making us better people, citizens, and spirits.’

Family, please smile!

What about life after work? Megan shared her beaming smile. ‘I love to travel and always try to cram trips within a few available days. But every weekend is dedicated to my family. I escape to the countryside of London to meet my grandma, grandpa, parents, uncles, aunts and friends. We meet at Grandma’s place and enjoy ourselves every Saturday. I have recently become an aunt for the first time.

Latest addition to the family…and already a Corinthian!

My sister has just given birth to a baby, so I look forward to this new and fresh experience. My partner, whom I have known for the last five years, enjoys seeing me relax with the people I love. He thinks that my hobby is socialising. Perhaps he’s right. I love spending my time with people. I am a people person.

And that, after all, is the fundamental basis of my work. I’m lucky; I love my job because it allows me to express my genuine love for people.’