In our latest instalment of ‘Getting to Know’, HM catches-up with Lancemore Group CEO, Julian Clark, who shares a fond recollection from his early career in the family business, offers some advice for rising stars and much more.
What was your first job in the accommodation industry and how long were you in it?
My first job was in Grade 8 during school in the family’s hotel business. Each school holiday thereafter I worked a minimum one week in different parts of the hotel. F&B was always my favourite as it gave me the greatest chance to interact with guests for the longest period of time, and normally it was when they were in a good mood. Much to my mum’s chagrin, I never became even semi-effective in maintenance!
Can you tell us a funny, embarrassing or memorable story involving you from the early part of your career?
Fast forward to university days, and I worked in Banqueting at Epicure Catering. I always used to enjoy picking a few people out from my section and making sure that I took extra special care of them. You needed to find the right personality and then the whole table got in on the act. It also made my shifts infinitely more enjoyable. It was amazing how many times you either got propositioned to by the gentlemen to go out for post-event drinks and occasionally propositioned by the ladies in another way. The mother of the groom one night was an especially interesting conversation. Needless to say, it was a “thanks but no thanks” every time and a long time ago, but the fun of working the floor at banqueting was something I always enjoyed.
What’s the best piece of advice you can give to young people assessing whether hospitality or tourism is right for them as a profession?
Hospitality is something you have to love doing to make it a career, so the most important thing for young people is to understand if it’s something they enjoy. They have to figure out if it is something they are willing to give up some of their social life to do, and whether they like the service industry, both for the good and the bad that it entails.
This was the first industry that I ever worked in and the fourth of my professional career. It is the best by some distance in my opinion. By and large, you work with good people who enjoy what they do (which is rare) and you get to make people happy. That trumps most jobs hands down. I never begrudge the industries I worked in previously, but there is a reason I settled here.
Lastly, I would let them know they can have the most amazing career in hotels. If they like the industry, work hard, find the right coach/mentor and look to improve themselves, people can climb in our industry much quicker than most. Moreover, they can keep climbing. Very, very few organisations of any size have CEO’s that started on the front line, yet that is the norm in our industry. So the opportunities are definitely there in spades for the right person.
Equally, if they find they don’t like it, they often will have learnt really valuable service skills that will hold them in great stead in many industries. So there is no real drawback to trying it on for size and seeing if it works for you.