Buckle Up: Future Insights and Pioneering Strategies for Tomorrow’s Leaders (A Preview)

By: Justin Taillon, MBA, Ph.D., CHIA, CHTP

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus wrote that the only constant is change more than two millennia ago. Little did he know that this timeless wisdom would still hold true in the field of hospitality management. We professionals in the field face seismic shifts driven by technological advancements, changing demographics in the workforce, and more.

HFTP collected data from its membership in 1989 about the most important knowledge a hotel or club controller would need to learn to be successful in the future. The results of this study were used to inform education within the organization and hospitality curriculums at universities, among other things. These were identified as the top five:

  1. IT
  2. Interpreting P&Ls
  3. Revenue Management
  4. Food & Beverage
  5. Night Audit

Fast forward to the brink of the COVID pandemic in 2018. We revisited this same question except with the beneficial perspective of being asked to identify which skills were most important today. Interestingly, there was little overlap in 2018 with the skills we forecasted as an organization in 1989. Hotel and club controllers identified the top-five knowledge bases as the following:

  1. Interpret P&Ls
  2. Prepare and Control Budgets
  3. Leadership, Managerial
  4. Analyze Financial Situations
  5. Interpret Balance Sheets

The lack of overlap between the studies is stark. Yet, the two studies were focused on approximately the same time period. Specifically, the students of 1989 whose curriculums were created in alignment with the study are the same industry professionals who progressed up organizational charts and found themselves leaders in organizations who were asked to complete the 2018 study.

But what can we learn from this intriguing disparity? Perhaps, it’s time to enhance our forecasting abilities—not just financial forecasts that we excel in due to our roles, but forecasting how we can stay ahead of changes and challenges. To succeed in the workplace of the future, we need to update our foundational knowledge, but we cannot do so effectively without honing our forecasting skills.

I witness the workforce of tomorrow taking shape daily as someone working in education. Generational differences are reshaping the workplace landscape, while rapid technological advancements demand new sets of skills. So, what skills will future controllers need to thrive?

We’ll delve deep into the crucial skills required for the future in an educational session at the HFTP 2023 Annual Convention, “Buckle Up: Future Insights and Pioneering Strategies for Tomorrow’s Leaders.” We will also understand the ‘why’ behind these skills becoming necessary. We will even take a fun test designed to assess our readiness for change. It’s like preparing ourselves for a journey to the year 2040—a fascinating form of time travel!

This blog post previews “Buckle Up: Future Insights and Pioneering Strategies for Tomorrow’s Leaders,” an educational session at the HFTP 2023 Annual Convention. Taillon will present this session alongside Jatin Khemlani. This year’s conference will be held October 18-20 at the JW Marriott Indianapolis Hotel in Indianapolis, Indiana. See the full schedule online and register to attend the Annual Convention today.

Throughout the session, we’ll explore a detailed assessment of the skills that will define success for controllers in the future workplace. But it’s not just about skills; it’s about understanding the reasons behind the changes and the importance of adaptation. As Heraclitus taught us centuries ago, change is inevitable, and the key lies in embracing it proactively.

Moreover, the generational shift in the workforce introduces new dynamics and perspectives, making it essential to be attuned to these changes. Coupled with technological advancements, the future workplace presents unique challenges and opportunities that we must be prepared to face.

In conclusion, this session is designed to provide precisely the type of education that HFTP is focused on as outlined in the organization’s mission statement: “…providing members with education, resources and networking opportunities to enhance their careers in the hospitality industry.” The goal of the session is to empower you with the foresight and knowledge needed to thrive in the shifting world of hospitality management. By understanding the skills required, the underlying reasons for change, and by honing our acumen for forecasting the winds of change in regard to skills and the development of skills, we can position ourselves to excel in the workplace of the future.

So, join us for this exciting journey as we unlock the secrets to success, prepare for the challenges that lie ahead, and embrace change with enthusiasm. The future awaits, and together, we will continue to shape it!

Justin Taillon, MBA, Ph.D., CHIA, CHTP is professor and department head of hospitality and tourism management at Highline College, and the HFTP Global Board Treasurer. He is also a speaker at the HFTP 2023 Annual Convention.

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