Career Profile: Will Oakley

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Bespoke hotels, Sloane street, Hotel

Will Oakley, general manager, The Cadogan hotel
Will Oakley, general manager, The Cadogan hotel
Will Oakley has over 14 years’ experience working in the luxury hospitality sector. Prior to his new role as general manager of The Cadogan hotel in Knightsbridge, Oakley was the manager at Bespoke Hotels, launching other London properties including The Bermondsey Square and Ten Manchester Street. This year will see Oakley open a pop-up restaurant at The Cadogan, and next year he will be overseeing the hotels refurbishment.

How I got where I am now:

After completing the five-year management training with The Savoy Group, I took the direction of working with smaller, boutique and more personal properties. After completing time working with Firmdale Hotels and The Halcyon in Holland Park, I joined Bespoke Hotels in 2008 and began opening and refurbishing hotels on their behalf. This has led to me opening properties all over the UK.

My greatest achievement:

Owning and operating a small group of delicatessens and a restaurant in London. They sold and used Great Taste Award-winning produce, which was greatly received by the consumers.

My biggest challenge:

The biggest challenge to date has been to oversee the opening of Hotels in the current economic climate. It presents a new set of obstacles to overcome, as well making you think outside the box to give that property an edge over its competitors. Despite this, the rewards are far greater when you achieve what you set out to do.

What I love about the hotel industry:

I like the fact that no two days are the same; that there are new, daily challenges in business and you get to interact with a wide variety of people.I keep motivated by constantly looking for new ideas and ways to enhance a guest experience.

My advice to an aspiring hotelier would be:

Do not jump around from job to job. I see too many CV’s littered with six months experience here, six month experience there - which doesn’t give you enough time to learn and develop your skills.

If I wasn't working in hospitality I’d be:

In the army, most definitely. But my best friend tore up the application papers years ago!

My future plans:

In the immediate future, I will be overseeing The Cadogan’s current projects through to their conclusion. The Cadogan is both an exciting and challenging role - one which I’m thoroughly enjoying so far. It’s good to be back in London having worked on new hotel openings in Cornwall and Liverpool over the past two years. I’ll be implementing a Great Taste Awards pop-up restaurant at the hotel in 2012. In 2013, I will be overseeing the refurbishment of this fine hotel on behalf of Cadogan Estates. From then, I am sure the next project will evolve naturally. At some point in the future it would be nice to work on an overseas development.

Related topics: People, Hotels, Career Profile

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