Hospitality Careers, Perceptions and Opportunities

Written by
Nick Clover - Director of Hospitality Jobs UK

15 Oct 2019

15 Oct 2019 • by Nick Clover - Director of Hospitality Jobs UK

Hospitality Careers – What the next generation, their teachers and parents should consider. Do what you love and potentially earn a 6-figure salary, is it possible? Absolutely! So encouragement into our industry is a given right? Let’s discuss.

“I love my job” is a great thing to be able to say in life. I’m sure people say “life is too short” a shed load more than “life is too long” after all.

People play a massive part of this, of course.

Catching up with great people is a fantastic part of day to day life, in and out of the professional arena, and I often catch up with inspiring people who have benefited from great hospitality careers. Today is no exception as I have lunch in Shoreditch at Blue’s Kitchen, where else, with the amazing Amanda Foncette who has enjoyed a great hospitality career to date and who I’ve known since her days at CG Restaurants and Le Pain Quotidien. A real star of the Hospitality HR Community in my humble opinion.

As we enjoy each other’s company for a long overdue lunch with delicious food served by great people, Amanda and I discuss current industry topics aka shop talk!

I can’t resist but ask Amanda the following topical and relevant questions regarding opportunities and perception around Hospitality Careers in the UK vs Canada and her answers are absolutely worth sharing as follow:

How do you see the difference in perception of Hospitality Careers in Canada vs England?

Hospitality in Canada isn’t a bad word.  It’s not seen as lower job.  It’s not seen as “you can’t do well in Higher Education so you might as well work in a bar or restaurant”.  There are really great opportunities, and in my time there this year, I spoke to several servers, bartenders and FMCG people who spoke about their journeys, about them being able to have flexible hours, about their development – not just hearing from Managers promoting the development that is on offer - people actually seeing a future with the business they work with.  When I was a couple of years out of Uni (a fair time ago), I remember working with a Store Manager who was 18!  He had worked his way up, working part time whilst going to High School and when he graduated, he went straight into the MIT (Manager in Training) programme and there he was. 

Here – there is a perception of Hospitality Careers that it’s a job for people who don’t want to go into “The City” or “Can’t”.  It’s a tough job being a server or a kitchen porter or a chef but the “outside” world doesn’t know that.  You see parents warning their children about their studies “if you don’t do well, you will end up being a waiter!”  and that’s wrong in so many ways because what actually happens is the disappointment occurs when they leave school, they think they are going to land a 5-figure salary, and they don’t.  I know people in the industry who started working in hospitality at Uni, left Uni and continued with their hospitality roles and not that long later they were on good salaries, learning new things and getting that experience.  I only took my City & Guilds in Barista Skills about 14 years after I started making coffee for a living! (well – I was here for 8 of them)

When you look at the peripheral roles in hospitality, a lot of the good people started in Operations, at the bottom, found some part of their job that they loved, and worked towards a goal and guess what – they are now those Heads of Departments. 

We talk about changing the perception of the youth in the UK towards Hospitality Careers. How do we stop talking and start doing?

It’s like the Chef Crisis.  We, as a group of industry “experts”, have workshops, talks and round tables about it, we gather “take homes” and what do we do the next day?   We go back to our roles – mainly trying to recruit Chefs from other restaurants.   Why not commit to speaking to 1 school a quarter to start?  Do a “hit list” so that everyone knows who is going where and just start doing it.  What happens if you get one person engaged? That would be a win. I did a talk a while ago in Kent – I’m not sure how many I got through to, but if one of them thought “Hey, this girl with a Canadian accent came in and told us about how she got to do what she is doing”, then we have won one of the fights. 

And we don’t just hit the catering colleges – they have already made up their minds.  How about catching them early – before they start their GCSE?  How about those who have children doing talks at their kid’s schools?  How about us who don’t have kids, using our friend’s kids’ schools?  It takes a couple of people, put together some talking points (give us a deadline to complete it), we all get the talking points, a list of schools and we get another deadline to schedule them in. We communicate about our successes, share our talks with each other for inspiration and see if we can follow up on our successes over the years.

Is there anything wrong with falling into hospitality…. Can you do this and potentially earn a six-figure salary?

When people ask me how I got to where I am, I always say, “I fell into it headfirst and nearly broke my nose.”  I had a plan – a loose plan – of what I was going to do when I was hired at Starbucks as a Manager. Guess what – it wasn’t about being a Manager with them for 13 and a half years or going into HR. Then I woke up one morning and it was 10 years later, I’m in a different country and I am working with the Learning and Development team.  Then nearly 4 years after that, I am at Thornton’s, travelling around the South of the UK training baristas and doing Operations within their Cafes – how did that happen?  And with the training, I got interested in HR, and the next thing you know I’m an HR Manager, then a Head, then I have my own business.  WHAT HAPPEN THERE?  You know the saying “Love What you Do”.  It’s true to a point.  You aren’t going to realise that you Love what you do until you try a couple of things, right?  You fall into hospitality, try some things, find your way, change your way, drop out for a bit, drop in, and yes – WORK HARD, and finally yes, you can hit the 6 figures.  But also remember a key thing to ask yourself, is it about the money? – because the quick win isn’t going to happen.  I used to get some people who got offered salary roles and then said no because they were earning more hourly.  But that’s looking short term.  Yes, your salary may drop, but it’s for a definitive amount of time as you learn and grow, then it balances out.  It’s patience and believing in the people who are coaching and training you that it will come – and it will. 

Amazingly thought provoking and absolutely right. Thank you, Amanda, and let’s all work together to change the perception of the opportunities surrounding Hospitality careers in the UK and take note from the rest of the world. Thank you again Amanda and thanks for reading.