July 12, 2024

In conversation with David Young

Sydney-based David Young, Director of ESG at Accor, was named Industry Champion at the 2023 Onboard Hospitality Awards…

I was surprised, honoured and humbled when I heard that I’d been named the 2023 Industry Champion. I’d like to thank everyone who sent me all the lovely messages of congratulations, that was really heartwarming and it did my ego the world of good! 

Also, a lot of awards are Euro- or US-centric. Having someone from Asia-Pacific recognised is really important because its our industry’s biggest growth area.

Accumulated respect

I hope being named Industry Champion is recognition of the respect that I’ve earned over time and also the commitment I’ve given back. I’ve held ITCA [International Travel Catering Association] board positions and spoken at numerous events. I’ve also helped when help’s been asked for from new starters, emerging players, airlines and suppliers. 

In my 25 years in the industry, I’ve worked for three airlines and then ran an airline catering and supplier business. I’ve been both a customer and a supplier, which has given me a unique perspective. I tried to take a very balanced view, seeing both sides.

Effective relationships

I pride myself on having effective working relationships and networks, pragmatic sharing of knowledge and understanding, and true partnerships with suppliers. I would hope people could look at me and say, “Whichever side he was on, he managed relationships with respect.”

Having moved out of aviation, I’ve stayed in hospitality and tourism – in hotels. I see some amazing synergies and think that hotels can learn from airlines and vice versa, particularly in regard to sustainability.  

There’s a fundamental industry change needed on things like waste and unless we all work together it’ll take a lot longer, that’s why initiatives such as the ASF (Aviation Sustainability Forum) are so important. I moved into sustainability because I have a real passion around how the travel and hospitality industry needs to be positioned regarding waste management and infrastructure.

Adding value

We’ve done a lot around designing new products and services to be as eco-friendly as we can. Yet we need to close the loop. That’s where I think I can add real value by bringing cross-hospitality knowledge. There are not too many people who’ve supplied customers in airlines and then hotels, so I think I’ve got a unique perspective. 

I’m keen to be involved in tackling the bigger, broader industry challenges.

The Onboard Hospitality Awards 2024 open for entries on November 13 2023. Good luck!