As part of the Think Again campaign, Janie Manzoori-Stamford asks Andrew Scott, sales director at Host Contract Management, why he loves his career in hospitality
How did you find your way into the hospitality industry?
I started working for my cousin in his Peterborough restaurant where I learnt all aspects of the trade and got a foundation in basic cheffing skills. Then, at 18, I spent a year working in kitchens around Australia to gain more experience, before coming back to take a job with Trusthouse Forte.
I'd got a lot of practical experience but it was at this point that I realised that I'd better get some formal qualifications, otherwise I'd be on £3 an hour for the rest of my life.
I later teamed up with Gardner Merchant (now Sodexo), which sponsored me at Blackpool and The Fylde College, and then gave me a job at its training centre in Kenley after I finished my course, which is where I first met Host chief executive] Bill Toner.
Did anyone try to put you off?
I was never pushed into it. Like many of us, we accidentally fall into catering through trying one thing and realising it's not for us and then working with family and realising what it's all about.
What are you doing now and how did you get there?
After spending a number of years with Gardener Merchant, I decided I wanted to move on and into a sales role. I wrote to Bill, who was by now at Aramark, and ended up spending the next few years as a rookie seller in the education market, before moving into B&I. I joined Jerry Brand at Host when the company was in its infancy. We grew the business from 10 contracts to 85 over the next five years.
Bill came on board at the end of 2010 in a consultancy position to help develop a more corporate approach to business and as a mentor to me as I became a board member. He loved it so much he bought the company!
Did you know right away this industry was for you?
I think I did. I'd tried a couple of things before but always liked the idea of being part of the service industry. I didn't take to the long hours and nights, though. That was why I was attracted to contract catering. And when I went out on work placements with Gardner Merchant, my eyes were opened to the quality of the food and training that was put on offer.
Have you had a mentor along the way, formally or informally?
I've always been lucky enough to work with someone skilled and experienced in their job that I've been able to emulate and learn from - Jerry and Bill having the most impact. There are a lot of young people that don't have that mentor figure. There should be more formal mentor schemes. I'd also like to see a formal qualification in contract catering. The current hospitality courses tend to be very much focused on leisure and hotels.
Do you think your formal qualifications helped your career?
Yes, I realised that without qualifications I'd be a chef de partie or a barman all my life. But only once have I ever been asked about what I did at college or university and that was by Andrew Main [chief executive of Aramark]. That was a shock.
What's the most rewarding day you've had in your career?
The day that I made the jump from operations into sales at Aramark. Each job I've taken I've been initially out of my depth. But mentor support has helped me through. Too many chefs and managers haven't made that leap and it becomes a lot harder as they get older.
2000 Part of the winning Sodexo Team at La Parade des Chefs, Hotelympia
â- 2001 Won Most Improved Contract in Sodexo at its annual Star Awards
â- 2002 First job in sales with Aramark
â- 2005 to present Instrumental in the growth of Host, taking annual turnover from £3m to £23m in 2012
â- 2011 Joined the board of Host
â- 2012 Acquisition of Couture
Loving Life in Hospitality is a new series of interviews with young hospitality professionals who have started at the bottom and risen through the ranks quickly. It is part of Caterer and Hotelkeeper‘s Think Again campaign, which aims to show young people, teachers and career advisors the excellent career opportunities that exist in the hospitality sector.
By Janie Manzoori-Stamford
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