Honoré KONNON, Technical Director at the Novotel Cotonou Orisha, tells all about his commitment on the field with Rescue and Hope!
I joined the NGO Rescue and Hope in 2016. Eric Houot, General Manager of the Novotel and ibis in Cotonou was due to visit the NGO’s training center, created with the support of Solidarity AccorHotels, and he asked the members of the hotel’s Environment Committee - of which I am a member – to join him, and I was happy to. Rescue and Hope trains young people, and provides equipment to women’s groups in nearby rural areas. Examples include traditional steam cookers and oil presses for palm oil extraction. Access to this equipment means they can generate income and therefore, gain independence.
I was able to put my skills as Technical Director to use and offer advice in terms of selecting and maintaining the equipment to make the work easier, to prevent wear and tear, and to ensure product quality. I also advised them about thermal insulation and safety processes, among other matters. I also have energy engineering training, and it is something I am passionate about: I am always researching ways to reduce energy consumption, and to implement heat recovery systems and so on. In this project, there was a lot of waste derived from processing, such as palm kernel fibers, which could be used as fuel in place of wood to avoid deforestation.
I enjoy using my knowledge to help an NGO because it expands the scope of my abilities. Even traditional equipment can be optimized with innovative processes. It is better for the environment, and it increases the profitability of a project.
There is still much to do in our country, but people lack the resources and technical capabilities. Projects like this don’t come along often, and it’s a joy to contribute my knowledge. My parents were farmers. I know rural life well. It was formative for me and brought me a lot. Now, it’s my turn to give something back.
Patrick MENDES, CEO AccorHotels South America, talks about the need to get involved
In 2015, Patrick Mendes was named CEO of AccorHotels South America. In just a few years, he became an effective facilitator of the engagement of AccorHotels teams in the region, particularly in Brazil where he lived for over six years.
As CEO of AccorHotels in South America, you are deeply involved in social support initiatives. Why?
I have been personally contributing to solidarity initiatives for a long time. That always seemed the obvious thing to do, but today, it’s even more obvious. When I arrived in Brazil it was an eye-opener. For the first two months, I traveled around South America to visit the facilities of the Group and meet employees. These countries are developing, but I saw how the reality of daily life is harsh. Beyond the desire to help, it awakened in me a genuine sense of duty.
Do you have an example of an initiative put in place?
We are leading many initiatives. This year, I attended the launch of the project “Arca do Crescer” (“The Ark of Growth”) in São Paulo with the NGO Arca do Saber and the support of Solidarity AccorHotels. It’s a training program with qualifying courses for careers in hospitality for young people from the favelas. Our employees are fully involved, giving courses as volunteers. They also took part in the early stages of the construction of the training center. They all tell me how it gives meaning to their jobs.
How do you communicate this spirit of solidarity to your teams?
I get fully involved, which is a way for me to engage more people. I consider myself an ambassador. I talk about it a lot with the press and in my meetings with employees, and I’m highly active on social media. I’m trying to underscore the need to get involved in local communities much more proactively. This is fundamental. We have 300 hotels throughout the area, all local platforms that can help communities. We have 20,000 employees, and a large majority of them have expressed the desire to contribute.
What is driving this employee involvement?
In tourism and hospitality, the desire to please and the passion to serve are part of the DNA of the teams. Brazil’s development is still in the stage of adolescence. Substantial challenges are part of daily life, and everyone is concerned. When you start uniting people and organizing initiatives, everyone quickly jumps onboard.
Kristyna Vogel, Marketing and Public Relations Manager, Fairmont Waterfront, shares with us the mobilization around Solidarity Week!
I’ve been working as Marketing and Public Relations Manager for the Fairmont Waterfront hotel in Vancouver for 20 years. For the past two years, I’ve been taking part in Solidarity Week*, which mobilizes employees around social support initiatives. I find myself in a privileged position, so, if I can help those in need, I’m happy to do it. For instance, I’m involved in Hives for Humanity, an organization that uses beekeeping to strengthen social ties. It runs urban hives and farms and welcomes isolated and marginalized groups, including homeless people, to help them reconnect with the community and nature. During Solidarity Week, we get involved with the association. For example, we organize dinners with the homeless and build hives. It’s a terrific opportunity to get involved. The Fairmont Waterfront has had its own hives on the hotel’s roof for 10 years, now managed by Hives for Humanity. It’s a part of our DNA. Solidarity Week also enables us to build relationships with colleagues. We share the same values, and that makes me proud to work for AccorHotels. As a company, we can speak with one voice and unite to lead by example. If we can make significant changes in our own community, then we should do it. That’s what the AccorHotels family is all about!
*Since 2008, Solidarity Week has become a worldwide movement in AccorHotels addresses and head offices. Every year for a week in December, its employees volunteer at solidarity initiatives to respond to the needs of local associations.