What it Really Takes to Be a Global Girl Boss
What it Really Takes to Be a Global Girl Boss
By Tamar Hela
Welcome to the second article in our Global Girl Bosses series. Last time, we met an eco-minded jewelry designer and maker, who emphasized that she loves being able to experience a global community as a Girl Boss. This time, we’ll be getting to know a Global Girl Boss who doesn’t shy away from the hard work it takes to find balance in her professional and personal life, and has some golden nuggets of wisdom to share with those wanting to see success in their entrepreneurial endeavors, or who may even be thinking of starting a business.
Who’s That Lady?
Meet Hannah Parker-Webb, the Managing Director of HPW Associates, which is an International Hospitality Headhunting and HR Consultancy business. Originally from Henley-On-Thames, Oxfordshire, a short distance outside of London, her career to date has enabled her to work and travel with fabulous properties and companies within the luxury hospitality and retail sectors.
Hannah has worked in HR and development throughout her career, most recently holding roles at the Forbes-awarded five-star Connaught hotel, Mayfair, London and, prior to this, with the award-winning Carnival UK (Cunard and P and O cruise liners).
In July 2014, she relocated back to China (after being there previously in 2010) and took an opportunity to launch her business: HPW Associates. HPW Associates is in the International hospitality headhunting and HR consultancy arena and Hannah has grown a loyal client base across the hospitality field of established, growing, and startup businesses.
As she wants to remain a bespoke service, Hannah is sure to leverage her network. And being so health-conscious (she stays physically active with the likes of hot yoga, the gym, and boxing; and she is a big advocate for essential oils), she applies that to her business to have a more holistic, sustainable growth model. To have success, she says:
“It’s about your network, confidence, and knowledge, and about knowing what is and what is not going to work for you.”
She’s also involved in consulting for a startup—details coming up—and is really enjoying that. For her, it’s about balance across the board in how she utilizes her time and energy to keep up the pace.
In other words, she’s a true Global Girl Boss. But let’s look back a bit to see where Hannah began and what led her to this clarity and success.
In The Beginning . . .
Hannah has a background in HR, and has always worked in hotels—mostly around food in the hospitality industry. Because of this, it was natural for her to choose to start a business that incorporated her previous experience.
So, what, exactly, was next? Well, when Hannah and her husband came back to China, she decided to start something on her own. And that’s how HPW Associates was born. And what’s so amazing about this endeavor is that she truly grew her business from grassroots—and has done everything herself to grow it.
In a nutshell, through HPW Associates, on the headhunting side, Hannah takes a catalyst role between her clients and candidates based in London, Shanghai, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, and New York. She also does consulting for hotels, particularly focusing on the culture, talent, and development piece.
Time Management 101: Making Good Habits Work for You
With the steady growth of her business, Hannah has learned to manage her energy and time, doing things that she enjoys and making sure she has enough downtime. This is so important for any person running a business, especially to avoid burnout. She reads a lot of management and business books to keep her in touch with the corporate world but still keep an entrepreneurial spirit, as well as stays disciplined with her workweek.
As her husband has been focused on opening a new hotel the past several months, the schedule has gone a bit crazy, but because of her discipline and good habits in place—i.e., staying active and making healthy food choices—Hannah has been able to remain structured and not slip back into past habits that would hinder her and her business from successful growth.
Goes to show how having good habits in place on a daily basis and giving back to yourself can help you in the long-term. And along those lines, Hannah shares some sound Girl Boss advice to save you from potential headaches, overwhelm, and energy vampires.
Don’t Throw Caution to the Wind
What’s Hannah’s number one piece of advice that she’s taken to heart?
“Be careful who you work with. Sometimes you want to perhaps take someone on from a referral, out of the kindness of your heart, but it can actually be damaging to your brand and business. You must be very clear on what your skillset is and what you provide.”
Hannah especially emphasizes that, at times, we can get too swept up in taking up the wrong thing, and then it doesn’t go well and can be a real time stealer. She’s a very strategic and focused businesswoman and has cultivated the confidence to know what and with whom she wants to work. Organization is something she lives for.
For this Girl Boss, it’s a matter of “fit now, tweak later.” For example, Hannah likes to get things done for clients/businesses NOW that are affecting and potentially harboring the business in order to get results quickly. Then, other issues and needs can be sorted later as they appear or develop. It’s all about using structures to make important decisions as they come up, taking action, and then revisiting what’s been done in the future in order to check for anything that could be improved upon. Hannah is a strong believer in change and continuous development and likes to achieve.
How a Girl Boss Gives Back
What’s her latest project? Hannah shares she’s been very fortunate to work alongside the CEO and CO Founder, Matt Spriegel, and the ever-growing team at the Shanghai-based Accelertrain.
What, exactly, is Accelertrain? It’s an engagement and training app that’s hitting the hospitality industry by storm and shaking up the way to engage and train colleagues. In brief, it provides a digital, eco-friendly solution for engagement and training and other paper-heavy protocols within the hospitality industry. And as a self-proclaimed eco-warrior, Hannah is delighted with this particular proven fact of the business.
Think about it: hotels go through a lot of paper, especially with last minute changes and updates, and this app can save paper by keeping information digitized, and then providing live updates—from the training of colleagues and VIP listings to standards, and management training . . . it can even store reference materials. It provides real-time data as well. Hannah really believes this tool will help to revolutionize the hospitality industry and will provide case studies with analytics and results to help with colleague knowledge and engagement levels in the industry, which, in turn, will improve retention.
Accelertrain has been live for 18 months now, and the company is still very much in the exciting startup phase. However, Hannah expects it to grow substantially this year. Things look very hopeful and they’ve had amazing results and feedback thus far.
Final Girl Boss Advice
It’s very clear that Hannah is determined, focused, and able to get the results she’s after. Of course, this comes with experience, ups and downs along the way, and being very careful with the company she keeps.
So, when asked what her best advice is for current or future Girl Bosses, she said:
“Don’t be afraid to reach out to your network and be honest about what you are about. Mentors are essential.”
Very wise words and a great reminder. Just as the saying goes “It takes a village to raise a child,” it’s just as true for a raising a business and seeing it through to success. Even solopreneurs need help in order to reach goals and see their dreams come to fruition. Sometimes, that extra help can even come in the form of listening to your gut:
“If [something] doesn’t feel right, just don’t do it. When there’s so many people hustling, it can be more damaging to do it and die than do it at all.”
Hannah further explains that her friend’s father says: “If in doubt, don’t doubt.” Sounds funny, but it’s so true! Trusting your intuition can really save you from a lot of heartbreak—and not just in business, but in all arenas of your life.
Finally, this Girl Boss also says:
“Be careful with partnerships, especially if communication isn’t clear.”
When she was growing up, Hannah’s mother used to say: “Guilty by association.” And those are words we should all remember and heed. We truly become influenced by the company we keep, whether we realize it or not. Or, we make think we’re stronger than the negative influences around us, which could potentially be true, but if we’re in company that’s not lifting us up, then this could affect us in ways we may have overlooked.
Hannah’s test is to ask herself a very important question: “Do they lift me up?” If they don’t, she sets boundaries and makes sure that those people she surrounds herself with are ones who will encourage her, support to her, add to her energy. They are those who will be there no matter what and won’t compromise her core values.
Straightforward advice, but, as Hannah said before, it takes discipline and good habits to implement the things she does to grow her business and thrive professionally and personally. Her energy is so palpable that following in her steps seems like a no-brainer. All it takes is putting one foot in front of the other and progressing steadily, step-by-step and moment-by-moment. Perseverance is truly a discipline that all Girl Bosses must have.
Next time, on our Global Girl Boss series, we’ll discover one of China’s native Girl Bosses, who has traveled—and even lived—around the world and is now bringing beauty and fresh design to her homeland and to Shanghai.
About Tamar Hela:
Tamar Hela is a California girl but currently lives in Shanghai, China, planning world domination one day at a time. She’s the Queen of How-To for Sticky Steps, a digital education company that teaches young professionals essential skills for the workplace. Her latest project is HELAhealth, where she aspires to connect travelers and expats to natural and alternative health options in Asia. And as if that’s not enough, she also moonlights as a freelance editor and writer (with 40 edited novels under her belt and 3 published works of her own), loves traveling and reading, and runs natural health and creative workshops in Shanghai. Find her at www.tamarhela.com.