You could say the Covid-19 lifestyle of no-travel-stay-home has been kind to Michael Issenberg personally, without setting out to do so, he has shed at least eight kilos and feels fit and great.
“I woke up one day and realised my pants were loose,” he laughed. “It must be the eating at home, regular meals, no airline food, no eating out, different time zones.”
Professionally, though, you could say Covid-19 has dealt him the unkindest cut of all. His region, Accor Asia Pacific, which he has literally built from scratch over the last 17 years, has been broken up into three regions – Asia, China and Pacific – and his role as well as his direct reports will cease to exist in the restructure laid down by Accor CEO Sebastien Bazin last week.
Issenberg: “A lot of people can chase deals but it’s harder to build a team, stay the course and never lose your values, no matter the crisis.”
I asked him what his first reaction was when he was told the news. “I knew there was a restructure in the offing. I knew we had to save money because the business wouldn’t return until 2023 or 2024 depending how you looked at it and the next two years would be challenging.
“I had imagined three possibilities – that APAC might get larger, that it might stay the same and it wasn’t out of the question it could be broken up although I felt there was a lower probability of that.
“So my first reaction was absolutely a surprise. My first thought was, what about the business and how is it going to work? Next was, what will happen to my team, people you know well? I asked Sebastien that. We spoke for over an hour, he explained the new structure, the rationale and talked about implications for APAC, myself and the team.
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