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Loving life in hospitality – Duncan Milne

14 March 2013
Loving life in hospitality – Duncan Milne

As part of the Think Again campaign, Duncan Milne tells Janie Manzoori-Stamford why he loves his career in hospitality

Duncan Milne

How did you find your way into the hospitality industry?
I was lucky enough to visit some of the world's leading hotels, experiencing the service as a customer, which inspired me from a young age. I have always wanted to work in hotels.

You can't really learn about the industry in a classroom; you need to go out and get first-hand experience. So I decided that university was not for me. Two weeks after leaving school I applied for a job as a luggage porter - my very first job in the hotel industry.

Did anyone try to put you off? I went to a private school, where it was the norm for all students to go on to further education, be it college or university. I was encouraged by careers advisers and teachers to follow that path and not to leave to go straight into hotels. They said that my progression would be hindered due to not having higher qualifications. In my opinion, it didn't slow me down one bit, and I don't have any regrets.

What are you doing now, and how did you get there? I started my career with Macdonald Hotels as a luggage porter, working my way up over three years to become reception shift leader/duty manager.

The general manager of the George hotel in Edinburgh approached me to join his team as a guest relations host, and within three months I started working with the revenue manager as an assistant. I worked with him for 16 months, learning as much as I could and getting involved in every opportunity available until I was promoted to assistant revenue manager and, more recently, to my current role as business development manager.

My main focus is to develop the revenue management of the conference and events department. I also support the revenue manager in the management of rooms and other revenue-seeking areas.

Did you know right away this industry was for you? I knew from a very young age that I wanted to work in the hotel business, and as soon as I broke into the industry I knew it was what I wanted to do. There are endless opportunities to travel all over the world and meet people from different walks of life. No two days are ever the same, and it's definitely never dull.

What training opportunities have you been given? I have been given a huge amount of training with Principal Hayley (PH), covering all aspects of the industry, from how to give the perfect show-round to personal licence training.

Have you had a mentor along the way, either formally or informally? I am lucky to have had both. My late grandfather taught me that if you want anything in life, you have to work hard for it. He was a very successful businessman and worked from the bottom of a company to leading it. He was a great inspiration for me.

More recently, the head of revenue for PH, Andreas Maszczyk, and my general manager, David Welch, have been great mentors for me. Both have taught me a huge amount about the hotel industry and are continuously helping me on my journey.

What do you hope to achieve in your career in the future? My end goal is to become a general manager working in the five-star hotel sector. I love the excitement and endless possibilities that each day brings, whether it's proofing a dinner menu, dealing with HR issues, preparing for VIP guests arriving or sales forecasting and setting budgets.

Would you recommend the industry to others? Yes, but the hotel industry is not suited for everyone. If you are hard working, flexible and willing to learn, then it's perfect. At times, yes, it is hard and even stressful, but the good times will always outweigh the bad. Some of my funniest memories happened at work.

If you're looking for a job that is constantly changing and every day is different, then hotels are definitely for you.

CV Highlights

â- 2011-13 Business development manager and assistant revenue manager, Principal Hayley Hotels and Conference Venues
â- 2011 Guest relations host, Principal Hayley Hotels and Conference Venues
â- 2008-11 Receptionist/shift leader/duty manager,
Macdonald Hotels

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