InterContinental Hotels Group IHG has an unparalleled history of GREAT PEOPLE – see Carole Klein and Jeremy Brook, in Hong Kong, above. The company can be traced back 75 years to Juan Trippe, founder of PAN AM, who followed presidential instructions to help open trade between USA and South America (the first InterContinental Hotel, Intercon, opened in Belem).
Early hotels were so up to today’s trend, go local. Head designer 1961-1985, the so-theatrical Neal Prince, would dip in and out of local galleries, stores and markets, befriending collectors and local artists, looking for objects, art and ideas to incorporate into that city’s Intercon. (Prince died 2017 and some archives are held at the Neal Prince Trust.) Now, it seems, IHG’s own inhouse designers are lost, as if in the back row of a corps de ballet, with all publicity given to pop-up visiting Big Names.
On the operational side, great leaders have included Hans Sternik, the Austrian who, after being GM of THE PHOENICIA INTERCONTINENTAL in Beirut, rose to be global CEO. Today’s CEO, Keith Barr, is similarly forward-thinking and a human, rather than hedge-fund-led, professional.
Now he will have a new Chairman. As of 1st September 2022 he can call on the wisdom of Deanna Oppenheimer. She already knows the hotel industry (her husband started and runs the Seattle WA-based 80-unit Columbia Hospitality group, which includes 49 hotels plus conference centres and golf courses – and they are co-owners of a top global hotel, not part of IHG). She is currently Non-Executive Chair of Hargreaves Lansdown plc and sits on the Board of Thomson Reuters Corporation. She previously served as a Non-Executive Director of Whitbread PLC and Chair of their Remuneration Committee. She has also been Senior Independent Director of Tesco PLC, where she chaired the Remuneration Committee and served on the Board of Tesco Bank. Prior to this, Deanna led and transformed the retail banking division at Barclays plc. Her extensive board and executive-level experience across high-profile consumer brands will, says IHG, bring valuable insights and perspectives to IHG.
If you have not listened to Kenneth Macpherson, who heads much of IHG’s global ops, hear him here: