The Lost Generation

It has often been asked over the last few years “Where are the leaders of tomorrow?” We think most people will recognise this discussion point, yet the reality is that they have always been there but have not become visible leaders for a number of reasons. Our view is that the hospitality industry has at least one lost generation of senior leaders. The question to ask is why? And how is the picture beginning to evolve?

Why is leadership such a major issue in the hospitality industry?  Despite great investment in development programmes and industry initiatives, arguments persist at the lack of future chief executives or managing directors rising through the ranks.  It is often noted that the key players of today’s industry have been familiar faces for many years.

A leadership gap has been created in the hospitality industry which has resulted in a lack of opportunities. Prior to 2008, businesses were prosperous and this resulted in less movement at the top level of business. CEOs and MDs have stayed in place for longer than an average ‘lifespan’, creating a gap with emerging leaders which has widened year on year.

The counter to this argument is that this stability at the top has allowed the industry to be very successful, really grow and mature. It is now regarded as an exciting industry sector that can compete with the best.

But how were the next generation of leaders lost?

For two reasons:

  1. They did not come through as in previous times, as explained above.
  1. Many of the emerging leaders became disengaged from industry networks and bodies and just made their own way.

We want to see this gap bridged for the new emerging leaders, who do have a new perspective, and it is important to align this with what already exists so the whole is stronger for it.

Time and again we have had discussions with new leaders who just do not see the value of traditional structures. At so many events, it is still the same established figures attending and there is a need to engage the “lost generation”. It is a matter of finding a bridge that represents both.

However, after five years of recession, times are evolving. The long recession is forcing change and we are seeing new leaders emerging, such as those we see through the Emerging Business Leaders in Hospitality Network. A new generation of senior leaders is coming to the fore, possessing new values, new vision and a new voice.  They have the professional aspiration, dedication and passion to take on the mantle of new roles and become the industry’s future ‘faces’.

So, we argue that this provides a moment in time to capture the potential of this Group which is beginning to make a transition into key roles.

It is all natural and part of a process/cycle, but one we need to support

EP agenda: the future of the hospitality industry

The book

To recognise this “passing of the baton”, EP is preparing to launch a new book in 2013 to profile emerging leaders in the hospitality industry. We want to celebrate the voice of a new generation and provide a forum for capturing the experience and ambition of leaders who are becoming the industry’s key players.

The magazine

The next issue of EP magazine does touch on the themes in this article, with features including Peter Ducker, chief executive, Institute of Hospitality talking about engaging with industry, and Andrew Stembridge and David Taylor from the Master Innholders and St. Julian Scholars discussing their objectives in providing clarity and vision for careers in the hospitality industry.

The April issue also features a number of rising leaders and entrepreneurs in the industry including: Rupert Ellwood, head of operations at Waitrose; Jon Ross and Andy Maddocks, founders of the Mothership Group; Sharon Segal, commercial director, The One Group; Eivin Berger, general manager, Sketch, Allister Richards, managing director of MITIE Catering and Christophe Hilty, hotel manager, 45 Park Lane.

For any questions or comments on this article, please get in touch; Heather Gibson, editor, EP Business in Hospitality magazine on 020 7025 1874 or

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