Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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GM’S on the spot

Cat Thomson speaks to 6 of Scotland’s Top GM’s and finds out what their plans are.

 

Bruno De Schuyter, General Manager Schloss Roxburgh, Scottish Borders 

What has been your career path to date?

I am from Belgium and got hooked on hospitality from a young age. I love meeting and working with people from all over the world and could not imagine doing anything else. My first GM role was overseeing the preopening of the InterContinental Hotel in Barcelona. I have been at SCHLOSS Roxburgh for just over a year now and previous to this I was at The Marine North Berwick. Recruitment is one of the biggest challenges at the moment.

What measures have you introduced?

We have introduced an employee assistance program with well-being articles, podcasts, tools and resources. We have also built up a positive relationship with the local community, and are proud to support community initiatives and sponsor the local rugby team. This has helped us develop a great team with a strong emphasis on staff retention which minimises the need for recruitment.

We have a sponsor licence to allow us to recruit out with the UK and we provide staff accommodation. It is our aim to become the employer of choice in the local area.

Who has been the biggest influence in your career?

My GM 25 years ago who later became a friend was an incredible professional, and one of the kindest people I know. He would say hello to all team members in the morning, stop to talk, but most importantly listen. I am very lucky that our paths crossed.

What are your plans for the hotel?

We recently opened an extension with 58 new rooms and suites, a state-of-the-art spa, and luxury Scottish cottages. Our gin and whisky bar, and fine dining restaurant. will soon open. The golf facilities are also being upgraded this year. It is our aim for SCHLOSS Roxburghe to become ‘the’ destination hotel in the south of Scotland.

Hazel Galloway, General Manager, Clayton Hotel, Glasgow 

What has been your career path to date?

I started out working as a bartender and waitress when I was at university before I moved into hotels in 2009. I worked my way up with various hotel brands including Accor, IHG, and Malmaison. and my first GM position was at Hotel Du Vin in Winchester in 2017.

After being GM for our sister property, Maldron Hotel Glasgow, I steered the preopening of the Clayton Hotel on Clyde Street. Recruitment is one of the biggest challenges at the moment.

What measures have you introduced?

I believe recruitment isn’t the main challenge but rather long-term retention and finding passionate people who want to work in hospitality. I love working for Dalata Hotel Group because their people agenda is a core value.

To tackle the skills shortage in the industry long term, we need to look at the education of children and how we can get them to see hospitality as a career and not just a weekend job. One where you can learn skills, find your passion, meet lifelong friends, travel and develop a long-term successful career.” I have such a great dedicated team who help make this happen with ease.

Who has been the biggest influence in your career?

I have worked for some really amazing GM’s and each has taught me some career-enhancing skills and helped me become a GM myself. But the biggest influence on my career are my co-workers, I have a strong passionate team around me who I can trust and rely on which really helps make me more resilient and driven to be the best that I can be for them.

What are your plans for the hotel?

Our main aim is to establish the hotel strongly in the market. As part of the wider Dalata Hotel Group we want to lead by example with our responsibilities to the environment, the communities in which we operate, our customers, our employees and other stakeholders. We will continue to innovate while delivering exceptional service to our customers.

Manny Baber, General Manager, Hotel Indigo & Staybridge Suites, Dundee

What has been your career path to date?

By accident, I started working part-time in a local hotel during my studies (I was studying engineering). But I fell in love with the hospitality industry, and decided to pursue this career instead. That was 25 years ago.

Over the last 25 years I have had various senior roles in F&B and management including 12 years at a senior operational level with Hilton Hotels & Resorts. I joined as GM of Hotel Indigo & Staybridge Suites Dundee in December 2021. Recruitment is one of the biggest challenges at the moment.

What measures have you introduced?

Our post-pandemic strategy has been to focus on those with a desire to get into the industry, versus experience. We are part of local initiatives to help people back into work via Dundee City Council, I am a mentor for their career-ready programme and volunteer for Dundee University’s Leadership Plus Programme and support the Dundee and Angus College apprentice scheme.

Who has been the biggest influence in your career?

Daniel van Wyk, my first GM, who I worked with at Hilton Glasgow taught me everything. Also Robert Ford, a GM I worked with at DoubleTree by Hilton Manchester, became like a father figure to me.

What are your plans for the hotel?

As we navigate through tough times in our sector, we’re uncovering efficient ways of delivering the business and identifying opportunities for commercial success. I want to continue the hotels’ success with Guest Love satisfaction.

We’re ranked at the top on Tripadvisor for Hotels in Dundee, and are consistently one of Europe’s top performers in IHG’s Survey and Social Rankers – which we are really proud of.

Dale McPhee, Former General Manager, Waldorf Astoria, Edinburgh Country Club

What has been your career path to date?

My journey in hospitality all started 32 years ago with a summer job, before this, I had planned to go to law school. I found a career I could truly excel and develop in. My dream had always been to travel the world, use my law degree and become a diplomat. That summer I fell in love with hospitality and realised that I was able to achieve that in a different way. I’ve was GM of Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian for 10 years and 2 months. During my 30 years working with Hilton, I have had the opportunity to work in London, Istanbul, Prague, Bucharest, Budapest, Windsor (Canada), Toronto and Halifax and my latest role is in Cairo. Recruitment is one of the biggest challenges at the moment.

What measures have you introduced?

We begin our recruitment process in ample time to fill each position and use online advertising initiatives to spark interest. We have become more flexible with our contracts, offering a higher number of part-time contacts and review compensation on a case-by-case basis. Our team is at the forefront of everything that we do. Personally, I feel that it is very important for me to know each member of our team and connect with them on an individual basis. At the end of the day, we truly are one big family.

Who has been the biggest influence in your career?

There have been so many influential figures in my career, my very first GM in the 1990s, was Marilyn Soper, a female which at the time was extremely rare, but she played an influential role in my career. Many of my previous bosses and colleagues have remained in my life and we have become close friends.

What are your plans for the future?

Sadly, after 10 years at the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh I have handed over the reins to Nitin Ramtri. I have transferred to open our first Waldorf Astoria hotel in Africa, located in Cairo. My email address remains the same – so everyone please keep in touch! I look forward to seeing Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian continue to prosper and grow in the years to come.

Chris Hodgens, General Manager, Banchory Lodge Hotel, Aberdeenshire

What has been your career path to date?

I actually fell into the hospitality industry. I moved to Aberdeen to study Chemistry and worked in bars and restaurants to pay my way through Uni. After I graduated my family circumstances changed and I needed a job quickly so I became assistant GM at Meldrum house. Once bitten by the bug it’s difficult to leave. I have been GM of Banchory lodge for a year and a half, prior to this I did consultancy work. I have had a variety of jobs within the sector, but I missed walking the hotel corridors and speaking with guests so I got back into a full-time GM role.

Recruitment is one of the biggest challenges at the moment.

What measures have you introduced?

To improve staff retention and well-being, I employed a full-time training/HR manager, and work alongside her. We have introduced gym memberships, an employee of the month scheme, and a service charge added to guest bills which has been a game changer.

Who has been the biggest influence in your career?

I have kept in touch with Andy Burgess for advice and guidance, he gave me my first opportunity at Meldrum House. I’m now back working for him as one of the owners of Banchory Lodge. He has a wealth of knowledge and gives sound advice, but he is not scared of having difficult conversations with honest feedback.

What are your plans for the hotel?

During lockdown we made our Sitooterie outdoor area which reopens in April. I am also looking forward to working with local schools and colleges to demonstrate hospitality is a good career choice.

 

 

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