Insights from global senior VP of Learning, Development and Transformation

The rise of the L&D: Accor Hotels’ CLO on balancing global governance with local initiatives

A fireside chat with L&D thought leader Caro Van Eekelen, Accor Hotels Global Senior Vice-President of Learning, Development and Transformation.

Click here to access Accor Hotels' CLO interview on Youtube
How to create change in culture and training in a 250,000 employee company?

“Ah, changes are takin’
The pace I’m goin’ through”

Whether you are in Learning and Development or in Business Operations, I won’t teach you anything new by saying we live in a world of great uncertainty.

From seasoned brands to fresh up-and-coming game-changers, the only thing we know is that…

… we know nothing.


Hopefully, thought leaders are willing to experiment with new ways to deal with transformation in a time of disruption.

Thought leaders like Caro Van Eekelen, first female country COO at Accor Hotels and current Global Senior Vice-President of Learning, Development and Transformation.

We sat with Caro to discuss the organizational changes at work at Accor Hotels and within the brand portfolio including Pullman, Sofitel, Fairmont, and Orient-Express. At each level, Learning and Development executives, both regional and global, are paving the way to make the 280,000-employee company a Learning Organization able to grow in an era of challenges.

The in-length interview is available on our Youtube channel here.

No time to watch it all? We got you covered. Over to Caro Van Eekelen.

“My whole experience is between Human Resources and Operations.

What does it have in common?


I think that with great teams, you can achieve great projects.

Transitioning from Country COO to Global Senior Vice-President of Learning, Development, and Transformation was just the opportunity to have an impact on 250,000 people instead of just the Benelux. Especially in the context of changing expectations both from our guests and from our employees.

The hospitality industry is changing fast, so you have to try and find new ways through this change.

At Accor, we have a comprehensive offer of training programs from onboarding to brand and leadership programs.

When I undertook my new position last year, we had roughly 1,500 training programs available. Each country was totally independent with their L&D offer. Which means we had 18 academies. In those academies, one of them was serving 18 hotels, and one that was serving 1,500 hotels.

It shows how each academy worked completely differently, from the way they packaged their offer, to how they marketed it or calculated its impact on business.

What we did first was to set up governance.

We nominated 5 regional academy heads, once for each region of the group, and we also have stakeholders at a Global level. This team is in charge of codesigning the academy system. All decisions are made collegially.

We are now working on hosting all the training offer on a unique learning platform with mobile features so every member of our teams, from managers to front-of-house staff, can train whenever they want.

Giving universal access to learning is probably the most challenging part today.

For years, some employees have been given the chance to upskill while others were not given time to train.

We are changing that with our new approach.

Measuring the business impact of programs three months after staff took it has been very valuable to build the legitimacy of our actions.

Our overall goal is to make training a way of life at Accor Hotels.

Making learning a part of our culture is not only a matter of L&D efficiency. It’s a matter of organizational transformation.

Hence, my scope combines Learning and Development and Transformation.

You can’t have digital transformation if you don’t have cultural transformation.

And it all starts with people.

You can throw any new digital marketing tool, if you don’t give a purpose to what you’re aiming for, digital transformation will never work.

We started with change.

As an organization, we need to change because our guests are changing.

They want personalization, so we have to get rid of standardization.

Which means we have to free up the people.

Nurturing this entrepreneurship, initiative-taking spirit is key to Accor Hotels’ success in the future.”


Disclaimer: The information contained in this interview is for general information purposes only. Neither Caro Van Eekelen, nor Accor Hotels or any affiliated brand endorse 360Learning’s products, views or opinions. 

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