From the Kitchen to the Corner Office: This CEO's Impactful Rise to the Top
As graduation season is in full swing, many new grads are entering the workforce with big dreams. Every dream has to start somewhere, and for Valor Hospitality Partners co-founder and CEO Euan McGlashan, that place was a restaurant kitchen.
As CEO of Valor Hospitality, McGlashan has achieved an impressive company growth record. In ten years since the company’s founding, McGlashan has expanded his company’s global footprint to include more than 80 properties throughout the United States, Asia, Africa, and Europe. Most recently, Valor Hospitality expanded its corporate office locations to include the Middle East.
Following an award-winning career in luxury, resorts, and independent and branded hotels, Euan formed Valor Hospitality Partners in 2012 with longtime friend and business partner Steve Cesinger. Since then, Euan and his dynamic team have executed on many distressed property turnarounds, new builds, and re-brandings, resulting in a highly-regarded reputation for the quality of the Valor execution both commercially and culturally.
McGlashan, at age 16, became an apprentice at a five-star hotel peeling vegetables and washing pots. Two years later, he was one of Scotland’s youngest executive chefs. A storied rise to prominent positions in the hospitality industry gave McGlashan an excellent jumping-off point to ultimately founding his own company.
“I grew up in a small, working-class town in Scotland. When I was 16 years old, my parents saw an ad in the local paper for one of the top hotels in the country looking for apprentices. I applied, got accepted, and spent the next six months washing pots and pans then slowly worked my way up studying at a local technical college on my two days off a week to learn every aspect of food production and service. At 18, I became one of the youngest executive chefs in Scotland at a small restaurant outside Edinburgh.” McGlashan said in a recent interview with the writer.
Euan was one of just six out of one hundred entrants accepted into university to do a degree in Hotel & Institutional Management. He was accepted based on work experience rather than High School results, and shortly after that, he began working five part-time jobs to pay his tuition. When he graduated, Euan’s parents, who had very little in savings, guaranteed a personal loan so he could buy a small contract catering company. The company was a huge success before he sold it two years later. McGlashan emigrated to Cape Town, South Africa, and built a new life and career there.
At 27, McGlashan was hired to help build and open a luxury hotel in Cape Town. He was exposed to and surrounded by incredible mentors who ensured his personal and professional success. McGlashan started before a brick was laid and said the experience was like drinking from a fire hose for two years straight! Here, he learned the incredible power of human energy and what it takes to build and lead a successful team. In essence, he learned how to make a business commercially second-to-none.
McGlashan shared his thoughts on leadership and team building. “At Valor, we believe in leading from the front yet being a massive part of the daily fabric. If you think of a bike wheel, we are the hub and our teams are the spokes. We provide the axle and the bearings! This means that even our executive staff rolls up their sleeves and gets stuck into the work that needs to be done. We never expect anything from our teams that we can’t or won’t do ourselves. We are all part of the same team, and I’m incredibly proud of the team we’ve been able to put together across the world.”
Here come the Hotelitarians! You won’t find the word Hotelitarians in a dictionary. McGlashan coined the term to represent Valor’s staff’s integrity, passion, and strength.
“Hospitality is a 365/24-7 people business, be it guests, staff, vendors, etc. At Valor, we’ve created an open culture that’s reliant on feedback and employee engagement. Our team is our greatest asset, which led us to coin & copywrite the term ‘Hotelitarian.’ We develop and coach / mentor them on becoming better versions of themselves personally and professionally. Our team of Hotelitarians are bold, creative, and are the best in the business.” McGlashan said in a recent interview.
We’re making the hospitality industry-relevant again and one where today’s rising talent looks at hospitality as a career option. At Valor and in the industry as a whole, in this new hospitality world, it’s different from my early days.
“A large aspect of growing successful teams stems from my gut instinct. A successful team is a diverse team of individuals with varying personalities, where everyone offers a different skill set and listens intently to the needs of the wider team. I love them to argue and debate because I know by doing this and always pushing their ideas of what will help us win, means that we always end up at the right decision. We owe it to our teams to arrive at these decisions which inform our way forward and provide clarity to our hotel teams with zero ambiguity. When hiring, we look for candidates who are authentic, tenacious, warm, caring, resolute, willing to be accountable, have great integrity and are passionate about what they do.”
Future Hotelitarians can expect to find the best in high tech, social, digital, revenue & yield management, sales & marketing, which requires genius, sustainability, F&B, design, DE&I, and so much more. It’s a career worth pursuing, and we are obsessed with leading the way in coaching so our teams become the best and brightest in the world!
Douglas Pilarski is an award-winning writer and journalist based on the west coast. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.