We caught up with Saffron Stone AIH, who joined the Institute last year. Saffron is on the graduate management programme at PPHE, who have sponsored Institute of Hospitality membership for all those on the programme to support their professional development.
You are currently working for Park Plaza, how does it feel to work for such a well-known brand?
I personally feel honoured to be a part of the PPHE company. To be selected out of hundreds of applicants for the graduate management programme was incredible, but to also work for a brand who understands each employees’ individuality and needs is just phenomenal. They encourage your development and focus on career progression which for me is vital, I couldn’t ask for more from a company.
Did you always want to work in hospitality whilst growing up? If not, what did you most fancy doing?
I’ve always had a passion for people. I started working in a cafe at 12 years old and then I was offered a job in a family friend’s restaurant at 15 and stayed there until I was 22 years old. Never did I think my career in hospitality would stem from such a young age, nor from my first job. During my first few years whilst working in the cafe and bar & restaurant I realised hospitality was the perfect career path, it was the fast paced environment, career progression, opportunities to meet people from all different walks of life and the overall working atmosphere.
What was it that attracted you to the industry?
The most attractive part of hospitality is that no day is ever the same; it’s a challenging yet rewarding industry to be a part of. If you have the passion then success will follow you. It’s hard work, it can be long hours but the rewards are like no other. Hospitality is so much more than just hotels/bars & restaurants, it opens doors to so many career paths, it gives opportunity to develop within your job roles but also on a personable level. If you can work in hospitality then you can work in any industry.
Which aspect of working in hotels do you most enjoy?
I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of the PPHE Graduate Management scheme which has given me the opportunity to work in various different departments in different hotels over the course of two years. My most enjoyable is front of house and having direct contact with our clients and guests. It’s given me a great deal of confidence within my job role but also personally, my passion shines through when front facing with the public.
Looking ahead, what would you like to be doing in your career 10 years from now?
I want to start my Masters Degree Business and Management in September 2020. As for hospitality and its diversity I do not know where it will take me but I have no doubt it will be great. As it stands for now, I am working towards Operations Manager in six years time with the potential to be a GM in 10/15 years.
My long term goal will to become a lecturer of Hospitality and Business Management at University. I have so much passion for what I do, I want to experience everything I possibly can and then teach others who share the same passion.
Tell us about the best working day in your career so far….
Its very hard to narrow it down to one day, I was lucky enough to do my University Placement in America and my highlight while working over there was getting put forward to help plan and run the RBC Heritage tournament. The overall experience was just incredible.
My second one would have to be while working at Park Plaza Riverbank, I was given the opportunity to have my own events to plan and build relationships with many different clients. One particular event was a Hospitality Charity and it was a privilege to work closely with the organisers from the beginning and be there on the night to see it through. Reasons why this was one of my best days was because of how amazing the event turned out, seeing all the hard work which was put in, the menu tastings, the decorations, the table plans, everything was just incredible and seeing how happy and grateful the organisers were just made the whole experience worth everything. The next day I came into work to the biggest bouquet of flowers and a thank you note from the organisers. Now despite all the highs and lows that occur, that kind gesture reminded me why I love my job.
What’s most important to succeed in hospitality?
As I earlier said; passion! If you have the passion, success will follow you. I have achieved quite a lot within hospitality, from a young age I worked long hours, the work itself was hard, some jobs I didn’t like but most jobs I loved, I embraced everyday and every opportunity. You have to step out of your comfort zone and challenge your capabilities. Do the things that you fear and face the uncertainty because the greatest rewards only come when you work hard.
The one quote I specifically remember from university was “a customer will forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel” and this couldn’t be truer. I want to bring happiness and joy to people, I want them to have an unforgettable experience with us which they have never had before, I want to set that benchmark and exceed it every time, I want to be a part of their journey. Yes there will always be high and lows within any job role, in any industry that’s completely normal but you have do something you love in order to achieve great results.
Give us three words that you think describe each working day.
Rewarding, challenging and incredible.
Where do you find out about the latest news and events in the hospitality industry?
Institute of Hospitality provides an extensive amount of information; it’s one of the best sources for hospitality. PPHE also have a very good platform through their internal system and of course LinkedIn is very useful for business professionals.
Would you recommend Institute of Hospitality membership to new graduates?
Of course! It’s been one of the best things as part of my graduate journey. It’s opened so many doors and given a real insight to the Hospitality Industry.