A boy who grew up in what was known as Europe’s most bombed town might not have believed he’d grow up to run one of the continent’s flagship hotels.
As part of the Accor hospitality brand and managed by Interstate Hotels International, James Conaghan’s Novotel and Adagio hotels in Leicester opened this year. We spoke to the general manager about growing up in Ireland, his hotel career, family life, and guiding his hotels through the pandemic.
Niche What was it about the hotel industry that made you want to pursue your career in it?
James I just love working with people and seeing them progress. Happy teams, make happy guests.
Tell us more about where you grew up.
I grew up in Strabane, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland. Having been a child during the troubles in Northern Ireland and lived in the most bombed place in Europe from 1973 to 1990, you learn very quickly to have a strong character and to look after the people around you, whether that be family, friends, school mates or your community.
Have you found it difficult juggling business and family life?
This has been a challenge over the years, however, my family is in a great place at present as we live in close proximity to work and schools.
Have you hit any stumbling blocks in your career?
Running hotels you hit stumbling blocks daily. The biggest challenge we have all faced is the current situation with Covid-19. I have had some business coaching a few years ago that helped me clear my mind. I am a firm believer that a thought is just that, and if you change that thought, your mind becomes clear and you make better decisions.
What characteristics do you think are most important in a businessperson?
Listen to your team and never give up. I’ve seen my team come together from a group of individuals to a force to be reckoned with.
Read the full interview in Niche Magazine.