To celebrate the start of the tenth year of our Graduate Programme, we caught up with last year’s graduate, Amanda Hill, to talk about her career journey to date and her top advice for graduates joining the hospitality industry.
What do you enjoy most about working in hospitality?
I knew early on I couldn’t work in an office as I can’t sit still. Working in a café gave me experience of working with different people and offered such variety, so I knew hospitality was the route I wanted to take. I love that no two days are the same – things move quickly in this industry which suits me because I like to be busy. We can safely say hospitality is never boring!
How did you hear about the Graduate Programme?
I studied International Hospitality Management at the University of Surrey and in my final year, I was assigned an industry mentor who was Natalie Mainwaring, BaxterStorey’s Business Development Director. I worked on a project with Natalie which involved visiting different BaxterStorey locations across the UK, meeting the teams and seeing the site’s restaurants and kitchens. Natalie was extremely supportive in giving me advice on how to progress my career; she told me about the Graduate Programme and put me in touch with talent manager Sharon Daniel. The rest is history!
What attracted you to the programme?
My friend Marlese, a previous BaxterStorey graduate recommended the course to me. I liked that it was a rotational scheme, so I knew I would experience all areas of the business, from cheffing in the kitchen to shadowing the catering manager. I also liked the fact it was only nine months – it was a fast track programme, so I wasn’t committed to doing a two-year scheme I didn’t enjoy.
What was your favourite part of the programme?
I loved volunteering at Brigade’s (restaurant, home to social enterprise Beyond Food) supper club events. These are monthly fundraisers where a guest chef took over the kitchen for one night only. Nigel Haworth, Chris King and James Golding were just some of the celebrity chefs I was lucky enough to meet. As a self-confessed foodie it was exciting to be involved, not forgetting the opportunity to taste their food! All while raising money for the worthy work that Beyond Food do. This is what ultimately led me to my current role at Brigade.
I have met so many people in the business through the scheme, and the relationships I’ve built mean I can always ring someone up if I need some advice.
What was your favourite training course?
I’ve been exposed to some many fantastic training opportunities, from creative thinking and HR management to managing GP and health and safety – I took something away from every single one. My favourite course had to be the barista training, where I got the chance to perfect my latte art. I also loved the WSET training – I didn’t realise there was so much to learn about the world of wine!
Tell us about your current role as Deputy Manager at Brigade?
I offered Brigade support during their relaunch last year and was approached by management when the deputy manager role came up. Brigade is very different to the site I worked at during the Graduate Programme as it’s public facing, but the skills I learnt on the programme have come in handy in my current role.
As Deputy Manager, I am responsible for the day to day running of the restaurant, as well as the training and development of 10 team members. Our team also includes our 12 apprentices who are with us for one year on a training programme; a lot of what I do is focused on training. Front of house training starts with waiting tables, building up to customer service, wine and menu knowledge and barista training. This training is provided mostly on-the-job as it coincides with the running of a seven-day restaurant operation. It’s a challenging role but I enjoy it as it means I’m always learning. Some days I’m on the floor, other days I’m doing HR bits or managing the finances.
What do you love most about your job?
Sharing all the knowledge and skills that I learnt throughout my time on the Graduate Programme with others. I get to do this daily, not only with our full-time team but also with our apprentices.
What gives you the most satisfaction in the workplace?
Observing the development of the apprentices and seeing the results of our training in action. The difference in the apprentices from day one when they started with us, to today when they are halfway through their programme is incredible.
What do you like to do in your spare time to switch off?
I’m a real foodie so anything to do with food and I’m there! I like trying new restaurants. I recently visited Mediterranean restaurant Amber and coffee roastery Caravan (both are based in London) and I would highly recommend. I live across from Brick Lane so am a regular at the Sunday Brick Lane food market which keeps me up to date with all the latest street food trends; my favourite is Gozleme, a traditional savoury Turkish flatbread. I love to bake as I find really relaxing. My show stopper is a rosemary-infused, salted caramel millionaire’s shortbread!
What would be your number one piece of advice for the graduates joining in September?
The more you put in, the more you get out. Grab every opportunity that comes your way!