General manager, the Assembly House, Norwich
Nominated by Richard Hughes, chef-patron, the Assembly House
Proudest moment "Becoming general manager and heading a team that won an outstanding customer service regional award, plus a host of other awards for our new hotel rooms, all in 18 months."
Greatest inspiration "Tony Masala, a former restaurant owner and pub landlord, who taught me how to be at ease with people and the difference between catering and hospitality."
It was clear from an early age that Sam Matthews was hooked on hospitality. At 14, he started washing pots in a restaurant at weekends and since then his journey up the career ladder has been relentless.
Between 2003 and 2010 he plotted his route from kitchen porter to restaurant manager at the Lavender House restaurant, Norwich. From there, he joined the Assembly House as wedding and events manager, progressing to restaurant manager, operations manager and now general manager.
Since joining, Matthews has helped to grow turnover from £1.1m in 2010 to £2.4m. He has also built a loyal, high-performing team, increasing numbers from 32 to 60 and filling all supervisory roles from within. As a result, the staff turnover rate plummeted from 70% in 2011 to under 15% in 2016. It's also Matthews who has been pushing social media, increasing followers from zero to 21,000 in 18 months.
Keen to showcase the industry as a great career, Matthews has introduced educational tours for local schoolchildren, including marketing, cooking and menu writing, and works with students from Norwich City College. It all positions the Assembly House as a great place to work and gives the business an advantage when recruiting.