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INTERVIEW: Eugenio Pirri, Chief People and Culture Officer – Global Diversity Champion, Dorchester Collection


Dorchester Collection was formed in 2006 and consists of 9 iconic hotels based in 5 different countries. Each with a unique story to tell, they represent their cities’ past and present, substance and style, and most importantly – their people. In 2011, Eugenio joined the group as Vice President of People and Organisational Development and ever since has been at the helm of reshaping the company culture, grounded in a holistic approach to employee and guest engagement within all constituents of the business. He was appointed Chief People and Culture Officer in 2017 where he continues to direct all aspects of human resources, including learning and development, employee & guest engagement, and corporate responsibility. Eugenio is today esteemed an industry leader and recognised on the HR most influential practitioner list by HR magazine for the past five consecutive years. Eugenio Pirri is also the author of a successful book, Be a People Leader: A Sustainable Framework for Achieving Your Full Leadership Potential, in which he shares his strategy for successful people management in the workplace.  

The Dorchester, London - How did you forge your career path in luxury?

Eugenio Pirri - My path began in a most unexpected way, with my first job working for a four-star hotel as a room attendant in Housekeeping.  What this taught me was the importance of cleanliness and attention to detail, which as my career grew, proved invaluable.  As I grew, so did my desire to create and deliver guest and employee experiences that were linked to what people want and desire.  As my knowledge grew, as did my passion for luxury; and, this lead me to the five star world and so much more.  Luxury has become a state of mind for me and the opportunities to excel within it are truly endless.

V.J. - How would you describe your mission within Dorchester Collection?

E. P. - My mission is to create safe and respectful work environments which will then allow positive engagement to prosper.  This means living the vision and values and meeting the emotional needs of our employees and guests.  People inherently want to have a positive experience in what they do, whether work or personal.  Therefore, this means my mission is to make that happen, knowing that some days may be easier than others, but the long-term strategy is the key.

V.J. - During the crisis, how did you overcome the challenges of distance with your collaborators?

E. P. - My world is all about our internal guests – our employees.  At the beginning of the pandemic, we made a promise to them to stay connected.  The meant immediately putting in place real actions to make this happen.  We then supported this by ensuring our leaders had the skills, knowledge and tools to execute.  Much work had to be done around mental health and well-being.  The pandemic gave us something we never really had before – an insight into how our people truly live.  This then meant we needed to act on this new knowledge and make it part of the communication and well-being strategies.

Plaza Athénée, Paris

V.J. - What driving force has remained a common thread in your career?

E. P. - I have always believed that as you progress your career, you are blessed with so much more opportunity to make a difference in the lives of your people.  This means using that voice that you have earned.  We now live in a day and age where the world has seriously evolved.  Diversity, inclusion, social responsibility, and other key factors, mean you have to adapt and ensure your work environments respect much more than in the past.  There are no excuses NOT to do the right thing and therefore, my voice and passion is the thread that makes me who I am and drives me every day.

V.J. - In your view, what are the qualifications required to consider a career in luxury? What advice would you give those who want to commit to this industry?

E. P. - There is no magical formula when considering a career in luxury as our businesses are full of wonderfully unique individuals, that all work together to create luxury experiences.  That said, you must have a true passion for luxury and bring that uniqueness to the table in how you deliver it.  If you want to work in luxury, then do your homework.  There is so much to learn from hotels / retail and the curated experiences they create.  Figure out how you can add your personal touch to these experiences, and then you will truly be luxury yourself.

V.J. - Can you tell us more about Dorchester Collection Academy? What are its objectives?

E. P. - Dorchester Collection Academy is the first of its kind in the UK luxury hospitality market, offering bespoke learning programmes focused on leadership and customer service for other luxury businesses and aspirational brands. Our courses give people a taste of Dorchester Collection and an insight into our well-earned reputation for exceptional service.

Hotel Eden, Rome

The academy is tailored to suit the individual needs and requirements of other businesses through an immersive experience. Our expertise has been carefully crafted from the models and techniques used to develop the incredible teams at our Dorchester Collection hotels. It’s this in-depth understanding of luxury service in a luxury market that sets us apart and can work for whomever and whatever your industry is.

V. J. - Before the crisis, luxury was intended to infuse more environment and social ethics, but also more emotions in its practices. What is your future vision of luxury? How will it offer even more transcendence in the experience and connect on an even deeper level?

E. P. - Luxury truly is in the eye of the beholder given how much travel has evolved over the years.  As it is now more accessible by the many and not just the few, people look for unique journeys that transport them into another world.  In the end, it then becomes about meeting their emotional needs as these experiences vary.  Guests ultimately want to feel a certain way and our role is then to better understand our guest and what they need.  Are they looking for sophistication or impact?  Do they want to feel in control or want to be free to experience a new environment?   The future of luxury is about positive impact and how we address those needs while relating them to important factors happening in the world around them.

Hotel Bel Air, Los Angeles

V.J. - How will be consume luxury in the future?  Will we still use the word consumption?

E. P. - I believe consumption is not the right word moving forward as people want to be part of the experience, rather than consuming it.  This speaks to the positive impact on factors such as inclusion and the environment.  People want to know that the businesses they are spending their time and money with are doing the right thing to ensure long-term sustainability.  Luxury will always be part of people’s lives and how people interact with it will be dependent on how it fits into their lives, both short and long-term.

(Photo credit: Dorchester Collection)