Meet the MD: Kim Kelso of Hilton Garden Inn Sunderland

Meet the MD: Kim Kelso of Hilton Garden Inn Sunderland

Kim Kelso is the general manager at the newly opened Hilton Garden Inn, Sunderland. Managing the day-to-day running of a new hotel can be busy, with Kim juggling personnel management, strategic and financial planning and ensuring top customer service is provided to each of its guests. She caught up with BQ to tell us a little bit more...

Describe your role in no more than 100 words.

To manage and direct the hotel operation through effective personnel management, implement strategic and financial planning in order to meet and exceed the needs of hotel guests and customers, maintain quality and maximise profits.


What is it the company does?

Hilton Garden Inn is the award-winning, upscale, yet affordable hotel brand that enables travellers to discover, and connect, while on the road. With more than 650 locations worldwide, as well as inviting social spaces and high-end amenities, we ensure guests have a great stay at an even greater value. Hilton Garden Inn promises to do whatever it takes to ensure guests are satisfied.


Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

I started in retail as a teenager and then made the move to YHA (Youth Hostels Association) as a General Assistant. After 10 years and having progressed up to Hostel Manager, I moved into hotels first as Assistant General Manager and then became General Manager at the Hampton by Hilton Derby City Centre.  In January 2016 I moved to Sunderland for the post of General Manager at the Hilton Garden Inn Sunderland.


What do you believe makes a great leader?

A good leader has an ambition to succeed, encourages the team to perform at their optimum all the time and drives organisational success.




What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

Transitioning the team from ‘pre-opening’ status to ‘open’.  The pre-opening stage of the hotel had its challenges and you need to be able to multi-task and be flexible to the changes, but going from this to the ‘normal’ daily operation brings its own challenges.


How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

At work I am a big fan of making ‘to do’ lists, it helps me focus on what my important tasks are so I don’t feel overloaded.  Living near the sea is great too – taking my dog for a walk along the beach is great for de-stressing.


When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a social worker and improve peoples’ lives.  Working in one of the YHA activity centres I saw lots of groups of young people with their social workers and learnt the reality of how emotionally and physically draining the job was for them.


Where do you see the company in five years’ time?

I see Hilton Garden Inn Sunderland being the number one hotel in the area for corporate guests working across the North East and leisure guests visiting the area or events at the nearby Stadium of Light.



What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Work hard, have high standards, and have ambition and passion for what you do.  Remember that being a leader is a continual learning process




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