I was literally born into hospitality. My mum and dad were running the Red Lion hotel in Colchester when I came along. I was on the cover of the Colchester News because I was the first baby to be born at the hotel for about 100 years.
For the first 15 to 18 years of my life I lived and breathed hospitality. I helped out everywhere in the hotel and got a real taste for every aspect of the job.
I’ve worked in about five or six new roles that have never existed before. Solving a problem or working on a project from scratch and turning it into something viable works for me.
Developing talent and staying in touch with those people to me is a great achievement. I’m proud to see those I’ve worked with in high positions now.
In the past hotel companies operated under fairly straight tram lines, people stayed within one concept and hotels were location driven first, but now it’s common for hotel companies to have ownership of many different brands.
Computers and technology have changed the hotel business hugely. Replacing those clunky old booking machines with computers has completely changed the business and made it so much more immediate.
Twenty-five years ago we were arguing about the cost of a telephone unit, now we are doing the same with Wi-Fi. Some things change in the industry but many things don’t.
My approach is to always take a holistic approach to finance. Some accounting people prefer to produce the numbers and leave them there, but I like to take them to the operators and talk to them about what they mean.
If the business is over-forecasted, if an owner is being too bullish about the future they may well be heading for a fall. Being realistic early enough and taking action if needed could save that business.
If someone wanted to set up a business now, I’d tell them to get some good advice and get an expert in. You may think you know what you’re doing, but having someone to bounce ideas off and give feedback, whether it’s an accountant or not, is always worthwhile.
I’m a huge admirer of Jim Stokes, the finance director of Regal Hotels and deputy chairman at the BAHA. He’s always very calm and collected in the face of adversity and deals with anything that comes at him.
We decided to change BAHA to HOSPA to reflect the changing environment we work in and encourage a wider membership by opening it out to people in revenue management and IT. We wanted to make it more inclusive and bring the worlds of finance, revenue management and IT closer together. We've been primarily about finance, so now revenue management and IT hospitality employees have a voice in the UK.