Jenny Thompson

make your own lucky breaks

My day begins at home where I check on my emails remotely to prepare myself for the day and think about the things I would like to achieve, what meetings I have and, because I am NOT a morning person, just ease myself into things gently!

Once arriving at work, there is normally something pressing that needs dealing with straight away, perhaps someone needs advice or there is a problem that needs sorting. After that, it is time to go through emails and either respond, action or delete – keeping your inbox empty is important to be effective.

As Operations Manager, I do anything that will help improve the business and support Managers or Team Members as required. I have to have an intimate understanding of every department and how they work – this makes the role very fun and exciting. During my day I will attend a lot of meetings. Sometimes these are about marketing, sometimes they are about customer care or sometimes it is about money – financial performance is crucial in business! The important thing about meetings is that they are structured, have a purpose and create some clear actions of things that need doing. Having a good meeting can be very enjoyable and productive.

Because we are a 24hour operation, sometimes it is hard to go home! There is always something still to be done, but I know my day is coming to a close once I have cleared my emails for the last time.

My Qualifications
When I finished my GCSE’s I stayed on to do A Levels, but was very unhappy and decided to leave to go to South Devon College and study a GNVQ in Hotel and Catering. I chose this course because having grown up in a B&B I always enjoyed the buzz and excitement of meeting new people and knew that the world of Hospitality held literally 1,000s of opportunities for me. After just one year I had won an award from Forte for best student and was fast tracked to the HND in Hotel, Catering and Institutional Management.

The Higher National Diploma at SDC was fabulous. It taught me so many practical skills, from how to make a bed properly to how to cook like a professional chef! I made a commitment to myself that while I was studying I would learn as much as possible and took other courses alongside the HND – such as Welcome Host, Advanced Food Hygiene, a certificate in Wine, Cellar and Beer Management – all things that I knew would help me get a job easily and most importantly make sure I knew what I was doing!

Once I completed the HND I decide to “top up” to a Degree with one extra year studying. The degree introduced me to strategy, theory, marketing and leadership, which complimented my practical skills perfectly. Having a degree also makes you feel really good; it’s a reward for all your hard work that will also help you get interviews for better jobs.

Qualifications have significantly helped me. Learning is the best thing you can ever do for yourself and your future and I have not stopped learning! Only last year I was awarded a Scholarship to spend over two weeks at a School in Switzerland called École hôtelière de Lausanne – a world famous hotel management school.

My Career
I believe lucky breaks only come through creating and seizing opportunities for yourself. It is important to be always proactive and brave enough to try something new and scary. I knocked in the door of the Riviera conference centre and asked for a part-time job! Once I graduated I was instantly offered the position of Assistant Food & Beverage Manager. Apart from a short spell in Bristol at a Marriott hotel my career has gone from strength to strength within the RICC. In less than 8 years I have progressed from a part-time waitress to Operations Manager.

It’s a very challenging and rewarding job. You get to work with some great people, deal direct with the customers and enjoy the variety of the job itself. Not so good are the hours which can be long and unsociable. My long term ambition is either to take a job within the industry that will allow me even more responsibility and opportunity or to start my own company. I haven’t decided yet!

My advice to you
Get qualified – this is a professional industry and you have to have the right skills.
Keep learning – find a company that supports your personal development.
Enjoy yourself – a career in hospitality will be hard work but also the most fun!

Visit the RICC website
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