Owner of the Crane Resort Paul Doyle is defending his decision to seek an overseas talent to fill a senior position in his organization despite thousands of local hotel workers being unemployed.
In fact, suggesting that training and experience in some areas were lacking, Doyle explained that there was merit to the move since some of the specific requirements for the job could not be met by nine of the
ten applications received.
In a newspaper notice last week, the Crane Hotel said: “Having received no suitable application in respect of our advertisement for a Director of Finance Hospitality Division, it is our intention to apply for a non-national to fill the position”.
However, General Secretary of the Unity Workers’ Union Senator Caswell Franklyn told Barbados TODAY he believed a local could have easily filled the position.
Franklyn even called for “radical change” in how the recruiting process is done, saying that “the Government needs to show some intestinal fortitude and tell them no, if you don’t want to employ locals then you can leave your investments”.
However, in a rebuke to Franklyn’s sentiments, Doyle told Barbados TODAY it was a case of the hotel needing a specific set of skills that simply did not exist among those who applied from Barbados.
“We have a very specific requirement,” said Doyle, who disclosed that on the first day the newspaper advertisement was placed the qualified candidate applied.
“But over the two weeks we got a total of nine applications. Five applications we could discount because they had no hotel experience and [the position advertised] is very technical. For hotel accounting, somebody who is good knows all the ratios . . . all of the costs and everything and they are good in terms of the systems and management and reporting,” he said.
“So five of the people who had applied had zero [hotel experience]. Of the four left, one of them was the person we would like to hire. Of the other three, two didn’t have hotel management experience, they had accounting experience. They were accountants not managers, and we are looking for someone to run a team and improve what we do,” explained Doyle, who added that the other person had experience at a larger hotel here “at a good level” but had not worked at a hotel environment “other than one month, in the last ten years”.
Adding that the hotel’s operation was highly automated, Doyle said he also required the applicant to be familiar with the majority of the approximately seven systems used.
“So the applicant that came to us the first day used to work for us nine years ago . . . He knows every one of our systems. He has 25 years of hotel finance management experience and 13 years working for big international brands, with a lot of it being in the Caribbean and in Africa,” explained Doyle.
The more than 20-year-old hotel, which started with some 30 employees, has been growing rapidly, now employing 450 people within its hotel operations, and several others in the areas of construction, engineering and programming.
He said some 375 workers were already back on the job, following months of stagnation in the industry, adding that “almost all” of those in other areas of the company were also back on the job.
Further defending the Crane’s track record of hiring locals first for its hotel operations, Doyle pointed out that one work permit was issued and that was for a sushi chef.
“And he has not been here for six months. When the [COVID-19 hit] he went home, and we have not seen him since. On the other side of the company, on the construction side, there is a couple from CARICOM,” he said.
He explained that the six-tranches deal struck with Hilton Grand Vacations over two years ago, and to be completed by the end of this year, was a part of the reason for acquiring a particular skill set that would meet the international brand standards and “report in particular ways that is expected”.
“We could not give them what they want. We didn’t have the skill set here. We don’t have international experience . . . It is very technical, very specific and very fast,” Doyle told Barbados TODAY.
He further explained that the Director of Finance for the hospitality division will be required to get reports out in “a timely way in a certain format fully analysed in a certain format”
“We do not have the skill set to do that,” insisted Doyle.
The hotel currently has one senior finance official, who Doyle said would take over the other segments of the business, while the new hire would focus on the hospitality.
“We determined that it was important to hire somebody with the experience that we needed because it is a big part of our company now, but in the future we can really give something back to Barbados,” he said.
Doyle also dismissed suggestions from Franklyn that hotels “are now the slave plantations of the 21st century and black people are still being enslaved and treated badly in these jobs”, and that they would pay more to a foreigner in a similar position to that of a local and even give them several perks.
Doyle said while he could not speak definitively for other properties, it was definitely not true of the Crane.
“No businessman in their right mind is going to pay anybody anymore for any reason if you can find an equivalent person to do the job here . . . so that could be a good soundbite but it doesn’t ring true with me,” said Doyle.
In an earlier interview with Barbados TODAY regarding another company, President of the Human Resources Management Association of Barbados Brittany Brathwaite explained that in some cases there was merit to some companies having to go outside the country to seek talent for some positions.
She explained then that in cases where it was a genuine need for talent that could not be found on island, it meant that the country should be building, grooming and refining talent” that businesses need.
Landscape Designer and Project Manager at the Crane who gave his name as Edwin, told Barbados TODAY the allegations about hotels hiring foreigners and treating them better than locals was simply not true of the Crane Resort.
“Working in an organization this big, we have had mostly a build-up predominantly of black managers. I would say 99.9 per cent black managers,” said Edwin, who has been with the St Philip hotel for the past 18 years.
“I can tell you that a lot of people have been promoted and they are all black and locals. I find this so different to other large companies in Barbados where most of the managers are white,” said Edwin.