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5 Questions With Andrew Cosslett

InterContinental CEO Andrew Cosslett answers five questions posed to him by CNBC on his career, his investments and the lessons learnt from the Asian financial crisis.

Q: How did you get started in this business?

A: I was recruited for the role in 2003 based on my track record of working with high profile brands and my international background. I was previously with Cadbury and there are many similarities between these two businesses.

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From chocolates to hotel rooms, the common theme is all about creating brands people love and a product offering that is the best in its category.

Q: What was the biggest victory in your career?

A: Leading what is the largest brand relaunch of its kind in the hospitality industry with the US$1 billion revitalization of the Holiday Inn brand through the toughest economic environment in recent history.

Q: What's the best investment you've ever made?

A: Time and energy into developing people. We're going to add more than 160,000 jobs globally over the next few years and there is no question that attracting top talent into the business and developing our people is one of our highest priorities.

Q: What lessons did you learn during the Asian Financial Crisis that can be applied today?

A: Leadership is important through both good and bad times, but that's even more apparent during a crisis.

Staying on course and delivering what you say to your customers and employees - sounds simple but it's not the promises that you make that matter, it's the ones you keep.

Q: Do you see China as a threat or a catalyst to growth in your business?

A huge catalyst. The China market is the second biggest for us after the U.S., and China will become the world's number one tourist destination in the next 10-15 years, with over 180 million overnight stays. Right now, IHG delivers over 220 million room nights a year across the globe.

In a decade China as a single market will represent the majority of that - it's definitely a catalyst for growth.

Andrew Cosslett, 55, is CEO of InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), the world's largest hotel operator. Prior to joining IHG in 2005, he had spent 25 years with Cadbury Schweppes and Unilever. Andrew also sits on the executive committee of the World Travel & Tourism Council. Currently based in the UK, he is married with two teenage children.

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Watch Andrew Cosslett's Past Interviews on CNBC:

  • InterContinental's China Ambitions
  • Hotel Industry More Positive