Area General Manager – UK North IHG Hotels & Resorts
- What was your favourite subject at school?
My favourite subject in school was Business Studies. I’ve had a genuine interest in business for as long as I can remember…. I loved economics and understanding how businesses worked. The teacher was also great… Mrs Butterworth was really enthusiastic about the subject and gave lots of examples of economics in real life to help you get an understanding.
- What was your first job?
I think I was the envy of my whole school year with my first job…. I was a go-kart mechanic at the local indoor go-kart track… This basically meant I had to fix the karts when someone crashed but the best bit was that I also had to test them before they were allowed to go back into use… I basically got paid to drive go-karts around the largest indoor circuit in Europe… awesome!
- Which is your favourite restaurant /hotel?
Honestly, I love voco Grand Central…. It’s where I’m based from. It’s such an amazing hotel both behind the scenes and with its rich history and heritage. A true icon in the industry and in Glasgow. You feel the interest and responsibility to look after the hotel on behalf of Glasgow… its pressure but a privilege at the same time. If I had to pick another, I’d probably go for Half Moon Bay Hotel & Resort in Montego Bay – Jamaica… check it out!
- How do you inspire your team
I had a coach that once challenged me on this…. I used to always say.. treat people how you want to be treated… he said, treat people how THEY want to be treated… that’s when the penny dropped for me…. Everyone is different and has different aspirations. It’s important to be clear with expectations and vision but people also need to feel empowered and trusted to be inspired….. and don’t forget to have fun at the same time…
- Which person in hospitality have you most admired / inspired you?
I’d say there’s a few that have really inspired me…. Richard Guthwe is a kitchen porter that works in Glasgow. He is originally from Kenya and is a qualified electrical engineer. Every year he travels home to Kenya for 4 weeks in August to work on building his family home where his mother currently lives. His work ethic is the best but more importantly, he is a really nice guy and always smiles. Michael Purtill is also someone I admired. Michael sadly passed away last year, but he was the founder of QHotels. A very astute businessman who didn’t suffer fools, but also showed a genuine interest in people.
- How do you manage your stress levels?
I tend to de-stress by building something or walking the dog or driving the car with no radio or sound on! Something to help switch the mind off for a little while (not too much whilst driving or handling power tools tho!)
- Instagram, Twitter or Facebook – and why?
Honestly, none of the above…. I check Facebook and Instagram purely to see what’s happening on the business pages, but personally I’ve pretty much switched them off… I’ve watched my wife, kids and even myself get lost in staring into phones and not noticing what is going on around us… I’d rather enjoy the company of the people I’m with and experience the fresh air for real… trust me… put the phone down or at least put some rules around their use… it’s one of the best things I’ve done from a mental health and social wellbeing perspective..
- If you had not gone into hospitality, where do you
think you would be now?
I’d like to think I’d have just retired from a successful rugby career where I’d won the World Cup for England, however more realistically, I’d probably have been an accountant!
- What did you do on your last days off?
Build a sub-frame for the decking that “the boss” wants… no doubt I’ll be taking it apart this time next year!
- What do you do to relax, to support your wellbeing?
The best advice I’ve only recently started to listen to is to look after yourself first. Get the basics right, sleep, food, exercise, company, family. I haven’t got the balance right yet but its getting better. I also have a dog that is happy to see me every time I arrive home… it makes me smile! I enjoy getting some fresh air and I have an obsession with watching random DIY on youtube and listening to audiobooks!
Something else I believe in is random acts of kindness… I know it’s a cliché, but small things can really make someone’s day. It’s backfired spectacularly on occasion, but most of the time just doing something nice for someone not only makes their day but also make me feel good too.