Success Stories – In Conversation with Michel Checoury
Michel Checoury is an industry veteran, with over 30 years international experience in financial leadership in luxury hospitality. Now Chief Financial and Administrative Officer for Kerzner International, Michel is responsible for the strategic financial planning and fiscal procedures across all aspects of the brand, supporting the company’s growth, profitability and performance.
A strong and innovative leader, Michel joined Kerzner International from Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, where he held the role of Chief Financial Officer overseeing 85 properties in 27 countries.
FM Recruitment continues to have a long-standing relationship with Michel. Jillian Malone, our former Managing Director, placed Michel in his role with Mandarin Oriental in 2008 as Regional Director of Finance for EMEA and as a Regional Director of Finance with InterContinental Hotels Group in 2003.
Throughout his career, Michel has held many other notable financial leadership roles overseas and in his native country, France. These include Regional Director of Finance for Aman, overseeing Finance and Strategic Planning, IT and Retail across 31-properties as well as working with Jumeriah Group and Starwood Hotels & Resorts.
In conversation with Michel Checoury
- How did you get into Hospitality Finance?
It was actually by accident! I began my early career as a Senior Auditor with Deloitte but at the time had ambitions to work in the US. I saw an advert for an Internal Audit role with Disneyland Paris, ahead of its opening in the 1990’s and I thought this would be a great opportunity to work for an American company. Shortly after, I was approached by senior management to take on a Financial Controller role at a hotel. At first, I was a little unsure whether this would be the right step to take but I quickly fell in love with the job and the industry. Hospitality finance is so varied- there are many areas to consider from accommodation to food & beverage, spa to maintenance, and all are operating in a 24/7/365 environment.
- What are the most important aspects of financial roles in hospitality and how has the role evolved over the years?
I believe that investing the time to understand all of the hotel operations; the challenges, how it works and what support it needs, is integral to effectively manage the financials. Whilst you don’t need to be an expert in all areas of the operations, you need to appreciate how any decisions you take will affect the employees and the brand. Decisions, particularly the most challenging ones you need to take, should be clearly communicated with empathy to all stakeholders.
- What do you consider your biggest achievement so far and why?
All of my successes have been attributed to a team success. Whether it’s getting out of a crisis, managing to turn around a situation or a success to celebrate, it’s always been because of a team rather than an individual effort.
- What advice would you give to someone who is just starting their career in the industry?
I can speak from personal experience with this as my son recently decided to pursue a career in hospitality. I recommend taking the time, early in your career, to really get to know the business of hospitality. That means working in the kitchen, housekeeping, front office, night audit etc to really understand each area of the business and how they’re inter-linked. My son undertook a number of internships with global hospitality brands as well as specialising his education at some of the best international hotel schools. This foundation of internships and studies will effectively prepare individuals for their career in hospitality, whilst building credibility as their career matures.
- What are the biggest opportunities in the hospitality industry as it recovers from the pandemic?
I think the leisure segment will be the first to recover, accelerated by the ultra-luxury sector, who can charter a plane, rent a private island and aren’t deterred by the expense and logistics of PCR testing. They will be looking for exceptional experiences, exemplary service and exclusivity, in which top luxury hotels will reap the benefits. The corporate market will be the slowest to return in my view – we’ve all become accustomed to conducting business over video calls and working with our fellow colleagues through digital platforms so the justification for corporate travel, as it was pre-pandemic, will take some time to evolve. I also think there will be substantial acquisition opportunities within the top niche of the hotel market, with some significant asset buy-outs and mergers on the horizon.
- What would have been your Plan B?
I come from a family of accountants therefore I feel my path was quite set from an early age! I’ve always loved my job and haven’t ever considered a Plan B.
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