Loving life in hospitality: Julie Bacon, Hospitality manager, MCC/Lord's Cricket Ground
As part of the Think Again campaign, Janie Manzoori-Stamford asks Julie Bacon why she loves her career in hospitality
How did you find your way into the hospitality industry? I had to do work experience at school when I was 15 or 16, and was sent to the Europa hotel in Belfast to get a taste of work in a hotel. I was enchanted by the beautiful surroundings and the attention to detail; everyone seemed to really take pride in what they were doing and enjoyed their work. Also, my mum had worked in a hotel and always spoke fondly of it, so I think I was intrigued from a young age.
Did anyone try to put you off? My parents have always been supportive, but I remember at school my careers adviser tried to put me off. She thought I should be doing something more academic at university, but I was determined to go into the hospitality industry.
I also found that at university at that time there seemed to be a snobbery about the industry. We were always pushed toward the luxury hotel end of the market. I really wanted to learn more about contract catering and the leisure and venue sector, and I think the snobbery made me even more determined to explore that route.
What are you doing now, and how did you get there? I'm now managing the MCC hospitality team at Lord's. I began in a junior position in the marketing department in 2003. A year later we took the catering operation in-house and set up our own meetings, events and hospitality departments, which was like setting up a whole new business. It was a great move for the club and has really helped us drive quality and innovation.
What training opportunities have you been given? I've been lucky to have training both in terms of formal business and leadership skills and also on product knowledge. The industry moves continually and we have to ensure that we are part of the change. Last month we enjoyed a trip to Beaune in France to improve our knowledge of Burgundy wine - definitely a perk of the industry.
What do you love most about your job? I love working in such a fast-paced environment. No day is ever the same and there is constantly a new challenge to face. I thoroughly enjoy being part of such a great and inspiring team. Everyone is extremely driven in what they do and they are focused on delivering something special. This is truly what Lord's is all about. Lord's is like a big family and I've made a lot of friends during my 11 years here.
What do you hope to achieve in your career? With the team, I want to shape the future of sports hospitality and help Lord's Cricket Ground to lead the way in the industry through continuous innovation and exceeding the expectations of our guests.
Would you recommend the industry to others? Definitely. It's such a wide-reaching and dynamic industry with a real variety of opportunities. There is always the possibility of learning a new skill or experiencing a new situation. Although I would certainly stress that you get out of it what you put in.
It's not always an easy industry to work in - the hours can be long and you often have to think on your feet - but in my experience job satisfaction is very high.
If somebody was looking to get into the industry I would advise them not be afraid to start at the bottom and work their way up. Hard work and dedication will always pay off.
â- 1999-2003 BSc in international hotel and catering management, University of Surrey
â- 2000-02 event co-ordinator, Sodexo Prestige
â- 2003-present hospitality manager, Lord's Cricket Ground
â- 2011-12 Oxford Management Acceleration Programme, management and leadership, SaÁ¯d Business School, University of Oxford