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My life in hospitality: JP Kavanagh

Age 37
Lives Edinburgh
Drives BMW
Favourite holiday South-west Ireland
Working motto The greatest fertiliser is the farmer’s footsteps

General manager, Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa, Edinburgh

Highs… My father is a hotelier and I grew up in hotels – I spent much of the early part of my life in hotel lobbies, waiting for him to finish work.

I started working at a very young age, and I was exposed to all the different jobs in the hotel industry. My father was a huge influence on me.

I believe that you’re born a hotelier. It takes a certain personality type and there’s very much a sense of vocation about it. I can see that my youngest son, who is six, is already showing potential. When he was just two, he was circulating at parties I was throwing, offering people dips and crisps. He’s a natural.

I became a general manager at 26, for a three-star hotel in Dublin called the Grand. It was a very different environment from the one I work in now. There were very few safety nets – at Starwood it’s totally different.

I’ve done some great openings, one being the Clarence in Dublin, a boutique hotel owned by rock band U2.

At first, when you open a hotel, there are no customers, and you try to imagine what it will be like. But then the first customer comes, and it never stops. There is something incredibly satisfying about implementing systems during the opening, then going back to the hotel years later and seeing that they are still in place.

Lows... I’ve worked with managers who weren’t effective. There are people in business and hotels who are unnecessarily psychological.

I experienced that once, when I was going for a promotion and I was being played off against a colleague. It was all clandestine and totally disengaged me. The minute I realised what was going on, I left – the company had betrayed my trust.

Another thing that can get annoying in the industry is that everyone is an expert. Everyone has opinions on things and it can get very irritating.

The way my career has panned out has meant that I have moved around a lot with my family. Uprooting all the time for work is very unsettling, and you do worry what effect it is having on your children.

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