Byron Fiddler FIH, Rooms Division Manager at The Grove joined us seven years ago. We spoke to Byron about his career journey, the advice he would give to those considering a career in hospitality and what he values most about his Institute of Hospitality membership.
Where are you currently working and what is your role?
My current role is Rooms Division Manager at The Grove, which is a dynamic, luxury Resort in Hertfordshire. I am part of the Leadership team and my role is varied with responsibility for Front of House, Housekeeping, Security and Maintenance.
We hear you will be starting a new role shortly, tell us more about this.
I have spent five fantastic years in a very special place; which has been fabulous and filled with opportunity, support and challenge. However, the time has come to progress and I am excited to be taking up the role of Hotel Manager with Harbour Hotels in their Southampton property. I am looking forward to being closer to the water, learning a new property, and getting to know and working with a great team.
When you were growing up did you always want to work in hospitality?
No, I had never considered that hospitality would be my chosen career path growing up. My family have no ties to the industry and whilst I loved staying in hotels as a child, I did not consider it a vocation. I wanted to be a doctor and geared my learning towards this. However, I had serious doubts about this mid-way through my A-Levels and was a bit lost with what to do with myself. I opened the UCAS book of degrees offered (a really thick book) and flicked through it for inspiration. I found Hospitality Management, was interested in the course descriptions, and went to see a few universities with the rest being history. So you could say I fell into it, as many of us do.
What attracted you to the industry?
I love to travel and I love people. I thought hospitality was a way to see the world and do something different – and it is! I am someone that needs to be constantly challenged and have variety, with hospitality delivering this in buckets. I cannot say that any two days in my working career have been the same and I love meeting people from all different walks of life, figuring out what makes them tick and what will make them happy. In the end I did choose a career that helps people, as I get to help people each and every day have experiences that are memorable and personal to them. That is truly what I think hospitality is all about – the emotional connections.
What’s the best piece of advice you would give to someone considering a career in the hospitality?
You definitely get out what you put in. Hospitality provides a career with endless possibility and opportunity to express oneself. I have been lucky to travel to some of the most exotic locations and experience some of the world’s most iconic properties. I have had opportunity to meet and work with people from all walks of life, be they someone that has saved for a year to have a one night stay, to A-List celebrities to Heads of State and Royalty. Yes, it can be hard work and the hours can be long, but show me an industry where this is not the case. Without a little effort we do not grow and develop ourselves and those around us.
I have the pleasure of collaborating with engaged, passionate and driven people all wanting to accomplish something exceptional. This is an industry where you can progress quickly, be constantly challenged, have real input and genuinely help make people happy; and have the pleasure of living this in real time. There is more to our industry than that which is portrayed in the media and I would say that anyone considering a career, try it out for themselves, I don’t think that you will be disappointed. I get to do something that I love each and every day and I cannot think of doing anything else.
Hospitality is a difficult job to switch off from at times, but what do you like to do to unwind?
I have invested much time in ensuring that I am able to switch off and disengage in my time off. I find being with nature a great way to unwind and am very lucky to live in some beautiful countryside. Nothing beats cooking a good meal or settling down with a good book! I often think that I was a fish in a past life as I love the water, swimming every day and taking at least one SCUBA diving trip each year. Spending time with my daughter and my family is a priority; being the best recharge to my batteries. I am passionate about supporting Great Ormond Street and the charity Neuroblastoma UK, we aim to do at least one fundraiser a year as a family.
You attended our new Professional Development workshops earlier this year on motivating your team and getting the most out of you team, how did you find the workshops?
I found the workshops very useful and it was a great opportunity to network, revisit some skills in my toolbox and learn something new. Motivation is an important aspect not only for you, but those that you manage and work with. We utilise a lot of different techniques at The Grove, including Mary Gober, however the content of the workshops added a different dimension which enriches the whole tapestry, which is fairly complex. I would highly recommend these workshops.
What’s the best piece of advice you picked up from the workshops?
Each and every person really is very different and it was great to learn different techniques to understand what makes us tick and how we can get the best out of not only ourselves, but each other, through this enhanced understanding.
How important is it to make sure staff are motivated in hospitality?
In one word – Imperative. Our team members are challenged every day to deliver exceptional experiences and where the impossible is made possible. Keeping the team motivated is an essential foundation to this as a happy and well-motivated team is more likely to want to and have energy to constantly exceed expectations. This aspect can be tricky as it is not always apparent what motivates individuals, and they don’t always want to tell you.
I found that the Professional Development workshops give you additional tools to be able to find patterns and understand people better so that you are better placed to deliver on this, as it is an important part of being a leader. The Grove does a lot already, however this aspect requires consistent focus and attention due to its complexities and ever changing expectations. This also goes hand in hand with the notion of Well Being, which is very much a hot topic at the moment, and for good reason.
Which other elements of Institute of Hospitality membership do you find beneficial?
I fully support the Institute of Hospitality and I am proud to be part of it. I am also proud that The Grove is on board with company membership, as this is of great benefit. I very much enjoy being a mentor with the Mentor Me programme and have been a part of this great initiative for a number of years. It is always great to help support and guide others in our industry and give back to something that I am very passionate about. It is also a fabulous learning experience for me. The webinars are great and there are fabulous topics to explore and learn more about with the help of industry colleagues.