Cooking up ideas to tackle tourism skills shortages

In the High Flyers spotlight this week is Roisin McKee-Kelly, project director for the Hospitality & Tourism Skills (HATS) network, which is supported by Invest NI.

What was your first job?

A waitress at a local hotel during university holidays which nurtured a real passion for the hospitality industry.

What qualifications do you have?

I studied at Ulster University where I obtained a degree in hotel and tourism management. I have also completed an executive management development programme in hospitality at Cornell University and a leadership programme at Harvard.

What do you attribute your success to?

A strong work ethic, a passion for the job, being a team player - which is key to building fruitful partnerships - and a good measure of perseverance! I'm most proud of the HATS network initiative which has recently launched to spearhead the delivery of an action plan to tackle skills shortages in the tourism sector. The collaboration is uniting employers, government and education providers with a shared vision to grow a workforce that will sustain the future success of the tourism industry and transform its image once and for all.

How would you describe yourself to someone who'd never met you?

Honest, enthusiastic and determined with a win-win attitude.

Who do you look up to in business?

I admire the people at the coalface and behind the scenes in our tourism and hospitality industry who are passionate and committed to creating and delivering memorable experiences for our visitors. They are the cornerstone in Northern Ireland's tourism success story – an industry worth almost £1 billion and with its sights firmly set on growing further over the next decade, increasing employment opportunities by creating an additional 25,000 jobs.

How do you get the best out of people who work for you?

I like to think I listen well, communicate a clear purpose and vision for people to get on board with, connect the right people, think ‘we' and acknowledge a job well done.

If you could change one thing about doing business in Northern Ireland, what would it be?

We need greater collaboration. The tourism industry has enjoyed a period of unprecedented success and has set an ambitious vision to double its economic impact by 2030 to an industry that will generate £2bn in revenues. To make this vision a reality, greater collaboration across the private sector, government and education to address identified skills needs and increase the tourism industry's ability to compete internationally is required. I'm confident the HATS initiative which is supported by Invest NI will contribute to making this possible.

What website or app could you not do without?


What was the last book you read?

Thrive by Arianna Huffington.

What car do you drive?

A Volvo XC60

Tell us something interesting about yourself?

I have also trained as a natural chef.

What's your greatest passion outside work and family?

Being creative in the kitchen, cooking up healthy treats for family and friends.

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