Recuritment focus: Management

25 October 2007 by
Recuritment focus: Management

There aren't that many industries where you could be running an outlet in a multimillion-pound operation before you had reached 30. If the idea appeals… read on. Rosalind Mullen reports

The past few years have seen plenty of acquisitions in the hospitality sector. The result is that the market has consolidated and opportunities for ambitious, young professionals have burgeoned.

According to Leila Hughes, head of research and communication at recruitment specialist Management Connections, the hospitality industry is starting to see the importance of investing properly in their people. Most are looking to recruit - or at least develop - an entrepreneurial management team.

"The best jobs are, not surprisingly, the ones to be found with the forward-thinking pub, restaurant and hotel operators," Hughes explains. "Those companies that concentrate on offering high-quality, fresh food with a retro feel. In return, they offer career progression and, with an ever-expanding portfolio, the promotion opportunities are exceptional."

So, employers are on the hunt for professionals who can work as part of a team and be both adaptable and visionary. They prize high-energy, bright and enthusiastic people with a passion for standards.

Of course, you can't acquire these qualities overnight even if you do have the equivalent of the hospitality X-Factor. Indeed, most high-flyers (including those profiled below) admit that they have had to do a fair amount of groundwork.

Hughes offers a few tips: "Having experience with one of the market leaders will always enhance a CV. High energy will come from a passion for your job as well as a fit and healthy mindset. Motivation and communication will not only enhance your team but return good sales and high margins. Being knowledgeable about the industry and working hard at creating contacts will help to secure your future in the industry."

As you can see from the varied routes to management taken by the four go-getters we have profiled, there are many routes to the top… Good luck.


The general manager
Who? Simon Davis, 28
Where? Arora International hotel, Manchester

Where did it all begin?
I am from Zimbabwe, so I trained in-house for three years with an independent hotel, spending time in different departments and learning theory.

Talk us through your career progression. Here in the UK I have worked only for Arora. I started at the Gatwick hotel in 2002 as a meetings and events executive but in 2004 I joined the Manchester team as assistant front-of-house manager and was promoted to deputy manager and now general manager.

How did you do all that so quickly? There is a lot of internal training and succession planning at Arora. I joined when the company was young so there have been opportunities as the company has grown. It finds out what individual career paths are and matches them with relevant training. I have just come off an Arora Flying Start management training programme, which has been driven by the HR and operations director to groom managers across all divisions from housekeeping to front of house. The year-long course has modules on everything from leadership to yield management.

What's the best thing about working for Arora? The key thing about this company is that people do progress. My previous general manager - who was my mentor - had been promoted from operations manager at Gatwick and has now been made general manager of the Sofitel hotel, which is opening next year at Terminal 5 and is being managed by Arora.

The T5 hotel is a coup. Yes, Arora wants to 50% of staff at T5 to come from within the company so there are lots of opportunities there. This is a young company and you can grow with it.

So where next for you? The sky's the limit with Arora. I guess this is my first general managership so I want to do well here. Looking ahead, this hotel has 141 bedrooms so I would be happy to take on a larger hotel at some point.

Do you think hotels offer a fast-track career? I don't think you are guaranteed a fast-track in management. It will only come to those who want to strive and achieve. It's a lot of hard graft and you have to remain focused. If you are not just using hospitality as a stop-gap and have real passion, you can reach the top quickly, though.

In a nutshell

Arora International already has five hotels at Gatwick and Heathrow airports and Manchester city centre. Stand by for its much publicised Sofitel Heathrow hotel, which will open at T5 in March. For more details, log on to

The rooms division manager
Carolin Boettcher, 29
Where? Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes, London

Give us some career background. I did my A levels in Germany and then went off to the USA for a year. It was while I was there that I decided hospitality might be the career for me, so I then attended hotel management school in Leipzig and graduated as in hotel, restaurant and tourism business.

So where did it all begin? My career kicked off at the Dorint Hotel Leipzig, in Germany, and then I came to the UK in 2000 to work as assistant reception manager at Thistle Tower Hotel in London. Since then I have been guest services manager at Club Quarters, St Pauls, with a brief interlude as reception supervisor at Jury's Inn, Newcastle. I was then in charge of front office, concierge and switchboard at Thistle Kensington Gardens.

You've clearly worked hard to reach your level. I feel my position reflects a high achievement. The company has trained me in leadership and management styles. If I feel I need a course I can just tell the company. For instance, I felt I needed more tuition on profit-and-loss and revenue and now I am comfortable with it.

What is your management style? Managers here strive to be approachable. I have been a receptionist so have worked my way up to this title. I am heading up a team of 20 and I try to get to know them all - every one of them has a career so I give them my knowledge and try to pass on something they can use. It's up to me to keep up the team spirit. I also have mentors and meet up with friends in the business to exchange ideas.

Is it such a great job? Yes. I love the fact I am always meeting interesting people and learning new things. This is a fast-moving industry and yet people say thank you, so there is a lot of job satisfaction.

Where next? I definitely want to stay in hotels. I am working for a four-star hotel with 119 bedrooms so might look to move up into an operations manager role or a bigger hotel. I really enjoy working for this company.

What advice would you give to career-hungry professionals? I have had a few jobs in recent years, but I made a development plan for myself. At the end of the day, you need to look after number one so focus and aim for the next level. Take courses and take advice.

In a nutshell

Park Plaza Hotels is a Carlson Hospitality Worldwide brand. It operates around the world but its newest hotels, Park Plaza County Hall, opens its doors in February 2008, bringing the number of UK hotels to four. For more information log on to

The area manager
Scott Darnell, 29
Where? Bella Italia
Owned by? Tragus Group

Does your job mean you are always on the road? Well, I do about 1,000-1,200 miles a week from my home in Bury St Edmunds. I cover the East Midlands, which includes Oxford, Stratford, Cambridge and Lakeside - I used to do Cambridge to Durham which really was a big area. Then, I tend to work three or four days a week in the office. The job is 48 hours a week Monday to Friday, but a new outlet is opening at Center Parcs Elvedon so I will want to be there for the first weekend.

How does your job shape up? I tend to plan my diary over three months. I need to sit down with each manager and go through the business performance with them - the figures and so on. I also meet once a month with other area managers to share ideas, do mystery diner audits, health and safety audits and look at training reviews to develop managers.

Did they train you? I was trained in-house. Since Tragus took us over from Whitbread the training has become a big focus.

Sounds like a good company for career development. Yes, we are always looking to develop our managers. About 15 of our 19 area managers have come through the ranks. It means that we understand the business well and the value of having stable teams. We have even introduced a new layer to stretch talent - senior restaurant manager - and have about six people now ready to move into that role.

So did you go to a hospitality or catering college? Actually, I did a degree in museum and exhibition design at university, so, no. I was working as a cocktail waiter while a student, though, and about eight years ago when I left and needed a job I joined Café Rouge - which is now owned by Tragus - as a commis chef.

And the rest is history? Yes, I progressed through the ranks at Café Rouge and moved over to Bella Italia 18 months ago as assistant manager, moved up to general manager and then to area manager.

Any tips for those snapping at your heels? You need to put in a lot of hard work and have drive and ambition. We tend to recruit the right people in the first place and if they persist they get noticed.

What's your next move? I guess I need to become operations director next.

In a nutshell

Tragus is one of the UK's largest restaurant companies with more than 230 restaurants across brands such as Bella Italia, Café Rouge, Oriel, Strada and Ortega. Over the coming year, nine new restaurants are set to open in Center Parcs and a new concept, Huxleys Bar & Kitchen, will open in March 2008 at the state-of-the-art Heathrow Terminal 5 project. For more information log on to

Contract catering
The client dining room manager
George Rodrigues, 37
Where? Daiwa Bank, City
Which company? Bartlett Mitchell

How important is networking? I think personal contacts are a great way to open up career opportunities. I met Wendy Bartlett and Ian Mitchell - who founded Bartlett Mitchell - when we all worked at Compass. I was a butler at the then Queens Wharf headquarters and used to serve them lunch in the Riverside Boardroom. Later, when I was made redundant, I contacted them and asked if I could join their new contract catering company.

What is your employment history? Initially, I worked for a hotel and did a day-release course at Waltham Forest. At the end of the year I failed but I knew that I wanted to build my career in hotels so I tried again. This time my parents funded me through a full-time two-year course and I passed with distinctions and credits. It gave me the incentive to follow my ambitions. While I was at Compass, I worked for its Eurest and Restaurant Associates divisions. When I was at the MoD contract I worked as events manager for three years - I used to organise events for 800 people at the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre in London.

Why do you like your job? Working for a contract caterer as opposed to a hotel is great as I work office hours, Monday to Friday. I chose front of house rather than back of house because I enjoy the direct contact with the customer - getting to know what they want and making them feel relaxed and come back.

Has it been difficult adapting to a smaller company? I enjoy working for a small company. I feel like an individual rather than just a number. My colleagues know they can call on me to help out. They have also sent me on a number of courses besides the usual health and hygiene courses. One was on how to project your voice - by speaking to a customer in a lower tone you can get your message across and people will listen. Another was on displaying food - for instance, arranging food in block colours looks better in a display fridge than mixed colours.

I guess I would like to do events again. I used to organise events for Compass. I am more practical then theory-minded.

What qualities are crucial to being a good manager? With my boss I manage about 10 people. I think that when you become a manager you should try to do every job that you are delegating. Never ask someone else to do something that you can't or won't do yourself. If someone is ill, it is important that you can roll your sleeves up and work as part of the team.

In a nutshell

Independent contract caterer Bartlett Mitchell was founded in 1999. The company's growth has been steady and it now has more than 54 contracts. The company prides itself on providing personal service to clients and developing its employees. For more information log on to

Salary watch

Sous chef£16,000-£20,000£20,000-£24,000£24,000-£32,000
Head chef£18,000-£20,000£23,000-£30,000£35,000+
Exec chefUp to £30,000£35,000-£50,000£50,000+
Kitchen manager£14,000-£18,000£18,000-£25,000£25,000-£32,000
Retail catering
Assistant retail manager£14,000-£16,000£16,000-£20,000£20,000-£24,000
Store retail manager£18,000-£21,000£21,000-£26,000£26,000-£35,000
Area retail manager£25,000-£28,000£28,000-£35,000£35,000-£45,000
Assistant bars manager£14,000-£16,000£17,000-£20,000£22,000+
Bars manager£18,000-£22,000£22,000-£25,000£25,000+
General managerUp to £17,000£23,000-£28,000£30,000-£35,000
Operations managerUp to £32,000£32,000-£40,000£40,000+
Assistant managerUp to £16,000£16,000-£20,000£20,000-£25,000
Restaurant manager£23,000-£28,000£28,000-£32,000£32,000+
Area manager£28,000-£35,000£35,000-£45,000£45,000+
Operations director£50,000-£65,000£65,000-£75,000£75,000+
Contract catering
Deputy manager£16,000-£18,000£18,000-£22,000£22,000-£28,000
Hospitality manager£18,000-£20,000£20,000-£24,000£25,000-£35,000
Catering managerUp to £20,000£20,000-£25,000£25,000-£35,000
General managerUp to £28,000£28,000-£40,000£40,000+
Area managerUp to £35,000£35,000-£42,000£45,000+
Operations directorUp to £55,000£55,000-£65,000£65,000+

News Flash

Looking for work? Management Connections is running recruitment events for a leading PLC in the industry. For further information log on to

Rutes to the top

There's no right or wrong way to plan your management career, whether it's in pubs, hotels, contract catering or restaurants. Here are some tried-and-tested options:

  • Do a hospitality degree followed by a fast-track training scheme with a big company.
  • If you are not a hospitality graduate, you could join a company that does a post-graduate training course.
  • Or… work your way up through the ranks (and don't forget to make use of your contacts along the way).
  • Do a hospitality degree followed by a fast-track training scheme with a big company.
  • If you are not a hospitality graduate, you could join a company that does a post-graduate training course.
  • Or… work your way up through the ranks (and don't forget to make use of your contacts along the way).
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