Hospitality has so many diverse career opportunities and the Big Hospitality Conversation aims to inspire more young people to consider a career in the industry. So far, its hotel, restaurant, tourist attraction and food service members have together created over 34,000 new career opportunities for young people up and down the country.
Heiko Figge of Private Equity firm Moorfield Group, and member of the British Hospitality Association Board of Directors tells us why he loves the business of hospitality.
What was your first job in hospitality?
A month working in a city centre hotel as a concierge/ bellboy on a school placement in Bonn, Germany. What I really liked was that the hotel environment constantly appears to change. It was an extraordinary place that always re-invented itself and that is when I knew that - - this was the industry that I wanted to get into full time.
You went from a front of house role to corporate role; did you work your way up through the hotel?
That’s exactly what I did. -: I completed my management training, was then able to work in a number of different countries, but always had ambitions to run a hotel as General Manager, then you wish to run a larger property, perhaps a different type of hotel and I have been fortunate to have been given the opportunities to run anything from city centre and regional hotels, to golf & spa resorts. However I got to a stage when I felt that the experiences that I had gained running individual properties are transferrable and may also work in a corporate, or central office environment. This was a huge learning curve as I had to adopt and learn to appreciate what it takes to manage properties and teams from a distance. More recently I joined the Moorfiled Group, a UK real estate and real estate related private equity fund manager, managing their hospitality portfolio. Having gained a fairly good understanding of how our industry works from the inside, I now also get to see and appreciate an owner’s view on how to best maximise financial returns by providing investment and specialist asset management skills to further improve profitability.
What skills do you require?
Frankly, whatever you choose to do in our industry, you have to be a people person and being able to work as part of a team, as simple as that. - You also have to believe that there are always - better, or smarter ways of doing things to deliver savvy service excellence
Finally, always appreciate that we are in the hospitality industry and our customers rightly have high expectations so it is our job to be great hosts and deliver!
Is that something that still motivates you?
Yes of course, every – day I remind myself that being average is simply not good enough and that it ’- it is all about - re-inventing and improving- our business, and developing teams that consistently deliver excellent service as a matter of routine-
What piece of advice you give to a young person considering a career in hospitality?
Imagine what you can potentially achieve across some many very different roles and functions Imagine what it is like to be able to work anywhere in the worked in some of the finest hotels and restaurants, however, nothing is given to you: you have to work for it. A young person joining will have to appreciate that this is just such an exciting industry that has - many opportunities and rewards, but also requires hard work and dedication I think what pleases me is- that the recognition of our industry is improving quite dramatically. We are one of those industries where talent and commitment really do matter- and it is not just how long you have been doing the job. In the hospitality industry age and lack of previous experience is never a barrier to success.
Find out more about how you and your business can inspire young people: www.bha.org.uk