To celebrate the start of our ninth year of the Graduate Academy, we caught up with one of our 2018 graduates, Matt Callaghan. Matt shares with us his career to date, what gives him the most satisfaction in the workplace and his thoughts on the hospitality industry.
Did you always want to work in hospitality?
Yes! Back home in Maidenhead, my part time jobs have always been in bars, restaurants and hotels, working front and back of house. I studied catering at GCSE before going on to complete my degree in Culinary Arts Management at West London University.
I have always loved seeing satisfied customers, whether it be them enjoying a delicious plate of food or having an enjoyable stay at a hotel. Being able to take care of people and to offer them a good experience is what drove me to work in this industry.
What do you enjoy most about the hospitality industry?
The diversity of it, no two days are the same. I know it sounds cliché, but there are so many different career paths you can take. Whether it be in finance, marketing, sales, HR, training… the list is endless. That’s what makes it such an exciting and diverse industry!
Tell us about your current role with BaxterStorey.
Having just completed the nine-month graduate programme, I am now operations support manager for the South region, supporting Morgan Warn and her three managers. My role is to offer help and support to manager’s starting at a new site or manager’s that are new to the business.
Tasks I’m often involved with are team training sessions, analysing stock sheets, refreshing the retail offer and just generally being on hand for whenever my sites may need me.
I’ve recently been involved with new business mobilisations, in fact three in the last six weeks! They are always great fun and a fantastic learning opportunity. It’s been quite a task juggling all three, alongside the Healthy Me roadshows and new food concept launches, but it’s fast paced and exciting, and that’s why I love my job.
Have you completed any training courses at BaxterStorey?
A lot! Finance level 1 and 2, managing GP, health and safety, food safety, creative thinking, essentials of HR, allergen champion and barista level 1. The barista training was my favourite; we learnt all about the coffee bean journey and how to perfect our sensory and latte art skills. As of last week, I’m now a nutrition champion, allowing me to help our customers lead healthier lives, providing them with the right information and a balanced choice. It’s key to our ethos, culture and relationships with our clients!
Tell us about your most memorable day at work.
I had just started on the Graduate Programme at one of our London based locations, and there was a large conference event on that night needing 110 canapes. There was a bit of miscommunication between two of our chefs about the preparation of canapes, and we quickly realised we didn’t have enough for the event. So myself and the front of house team stayed late into the evening to smash out 110 canapes! Although it was stressful at the time, all the team mucked in together and the event turned out to be a great success. That night really emphasised the importance of teamwork.
What was your favourite part of the Graduate Programme?
That’s a hard question. I loved visiting all the different locations; it was great to see the variety of clients we have. I always enjoyed helping at food festivals and the bread making course at Hook Cookery School was great fun, particularly as it was an opportunity to catch up with all the other graduates and to see what they’ve been up to.
What gives you the most satisfaction in the workplace?
Without a doubt, the fantastic teams I work alongside every day. I love nothing more than seeing the teams at our new sites get excited when we introduce the new food concepts and initiatives to them. A client said to me last week that it’s great to see the chef manager so happy now they’re working for BaxterStorey; it makes such a huge difference to my job, it’s really pleasing.
Who has been your biggest inspiration in your career?
The graduate scheme was an intense nine months; you get exposure to so many areas of the business. I always had so many questions, but our mentors, Sharon Daniel and Stephanie Cadogan were a fantastic support and were always there to guide me. I honestly wouldn’t be doing the role I am now with so much confidence without them.
What is the biggest challenge the hospitality industry is facing right now?
Recruitment. There’s a real skill shortage, which is why I think apprenticeships are so important in this industry, to give anyone the opportunity to work in hospitality. You don’t need a degree, just a love for giving people the best customer experience. People need to be motivated by the industry they work in, otherwise they’ll lose the drive and passion you need to work in such a fast-paced environment.
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
What do you like to do in your spare time to switch off?
I play football three times a week, and train twice, so that takes up most of my time, When I’m not playing football, I love to cook as it helps me relax and switch off. I’m also training for a half marathon in October, so wish me luck!