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Peter Hancock – My worst job

04 September 2009
Peter Hancock – My worst job

Peter Hancock, chief executive of Pride of Britain hotels

What has been your worst job?

My worst job was at the Bridge Hotel in Arundel, West Sussex. It was 1981 and I had just left a dream job because my employers were retiring.

The position was advertised as "manager" so you can imagine my dismay when asked on day one to: stock and man the bar; lay up the restaurant; serve in the restaurant; clear up; man reception throughout the afternoon; serve in the bar and restaurant all evening; clear up and then personally cook and serve a meal to the owner and his wife. My living quarters were freezing and the shared staff bathroom lacked hot water.

I decided to resign the very next day and drove off, laughing aloud with relief like an escaped prisoner.

What was so bad about it?

It was so far removed from my expectations. I had fantasised about sitting at a large desk smoking cigars and barking orders over the phone. The reality came nearer to slavery.

What did you learn from the job?

From this experience I learnt to do a little more research before offering my services and also that the term "manager" is sometimes misused. What I have tried to do ever since is to treat customers, colleagues and suppliers with respect and to remember to thank them for what they have brought to the business. The same principles apply in any industry.

What's the best bit of your current role?

The best thing about my present role is being able to take so much of the credit for other people's hard work. It's also rather nice to have 37 employers because if one of them profoundly disagrees with you, there will always be plenty of others who don't.

What's next?

I couldn't say what the future holds for a 50-year-old parasite like me, though an interesting sideline has developed in after-dinner speaking. I like to be involved in hospitality-related organisations and hope that all I've learned from successful hoteliers and restaurateurs over the years will keep me in gainful employment for a while yet.

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