Paul Skinner joined The Langham in London as director of food and beverage (F&B) at the end of 2009 after working in a number of positions in F&B at hotels inside and outside of the UK. He has catered for the Queen in Scotland and most recently helped bag The Langham's Palm Court tea room the Tea Guild's prestigious Top London Afternoon Tea 2010 award.
My big achievement:
Landing my current role at The Langham certainly felt like a big achievement. I'm working at a very prestigious property in terms of the history, the number of bedrooms and of the food and beverage operation, but I have worked at some events that were pretty special too.
I was working at the Balmoral when the Berkeley brothers were relaunching the printing facility of the Scotsman newspaper and we were asked to do some outside catering. We knew there was going to be a VIP there, but we weren't advised who - it turned out to be the Queen.
I was thrilled when we won Top Tea London Afternoon Tea place from the Tea Guild, but a lot of work had been done for that before I joined last year. It's a real team effort and everyone, front and back-of- house, deserves a pat on the back for winning such a prestigious award. We have a lot of competition from other London hotels such as the Dorchester so I'm aware that we need to continue to push ourselves to retain that accolade.
How I got to where I am:
After I graduated from Bournemouth University I had the opportunity to work overseas with InterContinental Hotels Group and worked in a number of positions: restaurant manager, banqueting operations and conferencing. I had the opportunity to transfer to the Balmoral in Edinburgh as conferencing and banqueting manager where I then got promoted to assistant food & beverage manager. I came back to London to work in a number of five-star hotels either as F&B manager or director before joining The Langham last year.
What I like about my job:
It's the diversity of working in F&B in hotels that I like. it's not just restaurants, you've got involvement across the whole hotel, whether it's in the rooms division, conferences and events or dealing with staff, you get your finger in a lot more of the pie than you would working for a restaurant group for example.
It's not a boring role, it's highly entertaining, there's always something happening and you come to work looking forward to the day, but it's ultimately about taking pride in offering good service to your guests.
The most valuable thing I've learned:
You have to inspire and challenge yourself and those around you. Your success is also down to your team, so you have to tap into the talents of the people who work with you to develop the business - whether that's the executive chef or someone working front-of-house.
You can also never just sit back either and say you've achieved all you can. You need to constantly evaluate what you're doing and keep in touch with what's going on to really improve.
I'd like to stay at The Langham for the 2012 Olympics. We're already talking about the main requirements for that time and for what we'll be doing and I think it'll be an exciting time for the hotel and London. Opportunities like that don't come around very often. Longer term I'd like to further my career and move up but I have got to do a good job where I am first.