September is a time when many of us are thinking about developing our knowledge as we focus on our careers after the summer. It’s a time when we reflect on our next steps and there are many opportunities to study whilst still working within the hospitality industry. As we put the spotlight on our business partners, we caught up with Yukari Iguchi who is the Academic Lead in Leisure at University of Derby Online Learning (UDOL) to learn more about the inspiring work they do.
What are your aims and ambitions for the hospitality industry?
As someone who used to work in the hospitality industry and who loved the interactions with customers, I aim to make a positive contribution to the industry in my own way now I am working in education. My biggest ambition right now is to help the industry with the skills shortage by providing hospitality professionals with training and education that is both relevant and enjoyable.
I also aim to develop the skills that are required to be successful as hospitality managers. This is the main ethos of the online BA International Hospitality Business Management. It is rewarding to see so many students on the course, some of whom are in senior management positions, such as general manager or executive chef, and are developing their knowledge and gaining confidence in their careers.
How can the industry attract more people to see hospitality as a valuable career choice?
There are many things we can do as a sector. I feel it’s crucial to develop those who are working on the floor so that they thoroughly enjoy their job and radiate their passions to customers. At the end of day, they are the ambassadors of business and if they show real passion, backed with good skills, it promotes the image of the company. When this happens in many businesses, it will promote the industry’s overall image.
At the moment, upper-market businesses tend to have better training and development schemes, but many of the potential hospitality workforce are working within the high-street or family market. I have seen in so many personal statements submitted by applicants to our online courses where their childhood experience was the main reason for their career choice in the hospitality industry.
The industry would benefit from a more structured approach as it is currently fragmented. Whilst smany organisations, such as the Institute of Hospitality, do a great job to support businesses, the diversity of the industry and the number of small and micro businesses makes it harder to work as a whole industry.
One of my colleagues visited a school to talk about a career in the hospitality industry, and the person coordinating the career talks at that school told him that they have leaflets and booklets provided by many other sectors but not hospitality. This made it harder to tell students about hospitality as a professional career.
What personality traits do you think people need to succeed in hospitality?
It depends on which department you want to have a career in as hospitality is not only customer facing jobs. However, what everyone, regardless of the department, needs to care about is customers. Even when you work in store, you need to think whether the quality of fresh food you are receiving from a supplier is something your customers will enjoy. Also, this is not the highest paying industry, although there are good prospects when you reach higher levels, you need to feel rewarded with non-financial elements. In my opinion, the best reward you can receive is to see your customers enjoying a hospitality experience. If you don’t feel rewarded with it, you may want to consider other careers. You need a genuine passion for hospitality.
What do you think makes the hospitality industry so special to work in?
It is a very rewarding and exciting industry in which you can help customers have a good time or make their special day even more special, be it their wedding, family holiday, or just an evening out with friends. You can also see things you wouldn’t see in many other places of work. I learnt some international protocol when we hosted a dinner for a national VIP in a B&C department and had a glimpse of international celebrities when working in room service in a luxury hotel. Of course, you need to remain professional when serving them, but it was quite an exciting experience for me in my early 20s.
UDOL is an Institute of Hospitality Business Partner, why did you decide to get involved?
The online hospitality programmes we offer at UDOL are designed to help people in the industry achieve their career ambition through learning and obtaining academic qualification, so it was only natural to work closely with the Institute of Hospitality. This working relationship provides us with the opportunities to network with industry professionals and keep up with the current industry affairs by attending a range of events organised by the Institute as well as by reading its many publications.