#13 James Riley - CEO of The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group on the Importance of Luck, Challenging Assumptions, and Always Looking Forward
"It doesn't matter how trying the circumstances, how challenging the environment, how difficult the task. Ultimately, strength is shown through calm"
James Riley is the Chief Executive of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. He joined the Board as Group CEO in 2016 and has held a number of senior executive positions within the Jardine Matheson Group. He was Group Finance Director of Jardines from 2005 to 2016, and was a non-executive director of HSBC from 2012 to 2016. He is also the Chairman of the Hong Kong Branch of the Royal Geographical Society.
Despite being the CEO of one of the world’s most loved luxury hotel brands, you will find very little online about his professional or personal life. Therefore, I am honoured to be the one to bring this conversation into the world and am grateful for his trust in me to do so. I hope that the hundreds of thousands of Jardines employees around the world, who have worked alongside James over the years, both recognise the man on the mic, and also learn something new about a man whose energy, zest for life, and company, I find very enjoyable.
We ease into this conversation on common ground and our shared love of books, discussing his favourites and the one that moved him to tears. We then pick up steam and he speaks candidly about how he copes as CEO of a huge organisation despite recently losing his sight. We chat about his people-centric leadership philosophy, and why he’s stayed with one group for so long. We also discuss living with no regrets, the importance of luck in one’s career, what makes him most uncomfortable, and his excitement around the ambitious drive to totally eliminate single-use plastics at Mandarin Oriental by 2021. We end with him revealing how watching a loved one suffer, ultimately shaped his career ambitions and determination to succeed. I hope you enjoy listening to the 'Life of Riley'.
This episode was recorded at The Mandarin Oriental HK
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group
Jardine Matheson Group
Heywood Hill Bookshop
A Little Life
The Lady in Number 6 Documentary
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