Making it in management

29 June 2006
Making it in management

What? Managing partner
Where? La Tasca, Victoria

Did you plan your education to become a manager? No. I joined the company in 2002 as a bartender, having just graduated from Sheffield University with a degree in modern history and politics.
My idea was to move to London to get a job linked with my degree, so I thought of it as a job to pay my rent.

So why did you stay in hospitality? I fell in love with working here. I was offered jobs linked to my degree but they didn't light my fire. I realised this company was investing in me, offering me opportunities to develop, and I just didn't want to leave.

How did they train you for the job? The structured certificado di administration - or management trainee scheme - wasn't formally in place then, but I was trained and promoted to assistant, then deputy. The managing partner who was my boss in those days kept pushing me forward, and by June 2004 I was managing partner at Chiswick - only a year and a half after I started.

Must have been a great challenge It was, because I had to turn the sales around. But it's been a bigger challenge at Victoria, which opened in October. I've been in charge since the beginning, which has been a totally different experience. I can say it's me who staffed it from top to bottom and that everything is achieved because of that. I'm in charge of a £25,000-a-week turnover operation - it's an eye-opener.

What are your prospects? I love working for La Tasca. I feel that it's my own business and I'd like to progress to the operations side. With expansion at 14 restaurants a year, and promotion from within, there should be plenty of opportunities.

Management development at La Tasca

  • Certificado di administration - national management certificate offering experience front and back of house, plus off-job training. More advanced training includes business forecasting, business planning.
  • Fast-track for graduates.
  • Deputies gain experience on the job until a vacancy as managing partner arises. Skills and ability rewarded.
  • The company is to expand by 14 sites a year, so needs good management candidates.

08456 092092

THE HOTEL MANAGER Hannah Williams, 27
What? HR manager
Where? Macdonald Holland House hotel, Cardiff

Apparently, you won't be HR manager for long No. I've just been promoted to cluster HR manager, so I will be looking after our three hotels in Cardiff - including a new one opening next year.

You came into the business with an industry degree Yes, I have a degree in hotel management but I'm also doing a day-release postgraduate diploma in human resources management at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. This is a must-have qualification for my field.

Are your skills transferable? They are. I joined in 2003, having been staffing manager at the Millennium Stadium for contract caterer Letheby & Christopher. I just decided to move back into hotels.

What do you like about the job? The people. I love looking after staff, making sure they come to work - making sure they're happy.

And what's the hardest part? Probably also the people - although nothing much shocks me any more.

On the ladder at Macdonald Hotels

  • An 18-month graduate training programme across hospitality disciplines.
  • Management development programme - development of existing talent through succession planning and promotion.
  • Opportunities are legion - last year, the group committed £150m to a programme of redevelopment. Work is under way at two new properties opening next year in Bristol and Manchester.](

THE PUB MANAGER Mark Cuddy, 35
What? Licensed retail manager with his wife, Sarah, 30
Which company? Pathfinder Pubs, part of Wolverhampton & Dudley
Where? The Talbot, Atherton, Wigan

What made you choose to be pub managers? It's a lifestyle thing. We came across some people who were running a small bar and just decided that's what we wanted to do. So we jacked in our office jobs and started getting some experience.

How did you go about it? Sarah worked as a barmaid and I took a job as a kitchen porter. We looked around for trainee management schemes, and two years ago we were offered a place with Wolverhampton & Dudley, which owns Pathfinders. We did our training together, getting experience in pubs all over the country and living out of a suitcase for about 12 weeks.

Has it been rewarding? Yes. Our first pub was the Sparkling Clog in Bury, Lancashire, and then we were offered this one at the end of last year. It's brand new, so it was a sort of promotion. We're also being nominated for best newcomer and retail manager of the year at the Wolverhampton & Dudley awards.

There must be downsides We came in with our eyes wide open, but this pub has turned out to be food-led rather than wet-led as expected, so it's more of a challenge to run. We work six days a week, doing 12- to 16-hour days. We live above the pub and sometimes you do need to get away.

What qualities do you need to make a good job of it? You need good social skills, mainly. You've got to be able to talk to everyone from a businessman to a scally. The business side isn't that difficult once you pick it up, but if you have queries you have the support of other managers in the company and your area manager.

Any advice to would-be publicans? Don't take the first pub you're offered. Do your homework and make sure you find the pub that's right for you.

Pathfinder Pubs Trainee Managers Programme

  • 12- to 15-week training programme.
  • Off-job training - 25 days of theory.
  • On-job training in trainer houses.
  • The programme won the BII NITA Awards in 2005 for the best managed house induction programme.
  • It covers nationally recognised courses, including: NCPLH; BII Beer Exam; CIEH Basic Food Hygiene; CIEH Health & Safety. It also includes company-specific training in everything from stock control and business development to customer care and employment law.

01902 329170

What? Chef-manager
Where? Sotheby's, Bond Street, London
Which company? Bartlett Mitchell

You've taken the college route Yes, I took a three-year Btec national qualification in hotel management and separate City & Guilds qualifications: 706 1&2 (chef); 707 1&2 (waiter) and 711 (pâtisserie). I did them all at the same time.

It's not the only way, though No. I've got friends who started off as kitchen porters and worked their way up. A lot of companies support you through NVQs nowadays, but I just like having qualifications because it's something to fall back on.

Tell us how you got to this level I started off as a supervisor at Gardner Merchant (now Sodexho) and trained on the job, before getting a managerial role at Yes!Dining eight years ago - I have lots of qualifications but you still need experience, as it's different when you start working.

What's your ambition? I want to work on the head office side and get a different perspective - look at purchasing, marketing and so on. I guess it will take me another five years to get there. Eventually, it would be good to open my own restaurant.

What's it like working for a small independent caterer? There's a lot of continual development at Bartlett Mitchell - I've done training in people management, food hygiene, computer skills, time management - and there's more to come in order to keep up with new developments.

What's it like being a manager? I love being a manager in catering. It's never boring and there's always a challenge. It gets even more interesting at a higher level.

Opportunities at Bartlett Mitchell

  • Chefs of all levels can progress to head chef or chef-manager level through a development programme.
  • Chef managers then progress to be unit managers; catering managers to general managers of larger contracts; and good catering managers to project, start-up or support managers.
  • Catering managers and general managers progress to be area managers.
  • Catering managers and area managers can move to head office support. A case in point is June Harvey, who started as catering manager, then support, and is now training and HR manager.
  • The Steps and Strides Development Programme makes all the above reality.

The inside track: operational manager for a pubco
Peter Wood, people development director, Scottish & Newcastle Pub Enterprises, spills the beans on how his company recruits and develops operational managers.

We'll provide you with the environmental development for a year or two, after which you will be given a group of pubs of your own to oversee. This role is a consultative one, providing leased pub operators with business advice and support, so potential recruits need to demonstrate:

  • A track-record of self-development, grit and determination.
  • Business and financial acumen and a passion for pubs.
  • Good people skills - an ability to influence others.
  • An ability to meet and work with people at all levels.
  • Experience of interviewing.
  • Licensed retail experience, beyond serving drinks.
  • An ability to understand customer needs.
  • An intuitive feel for pubs and what makes them successful.
  • To get into operational pub management, you should:
  • Get a degree in hotel management or a business-related discipline.
  • Get exposure to departmental or business accounts so you can develop your business and financial acumen.
  • Make sure you can demonstrate a track record of self-development.

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The inside track: hotel managers
Paul Katzenberg, 28, is director of events at both the Café Royal and Le Meridien Piccadilly hotel in London. He's in charge of 30 function rooms and 14 staff, so how did he get where he is today?

  • I knew I had to get experience in all departments.
  • I always looked for departments where there were helpful managers who would act as mentors.
  • I made sure I built up good relationships with them so that I was an obvious choice when vacancies arose.
  • I always spent time getting to know senior management so they knew who I was and what I could do.

Top tip: The hotel industry is much more pressurised and fast-moving than it was 20 or 30 years ago. You need to be one step ahead of the trends, which means you can't rest on your laurels. Talk to your peers in other companies, go to workshops, share best practice.

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