Hi, my name is Derek Hiscoke, I’m 45 years old and home for me is West London.
Graduation year: 2014
Program studied at Glion: Online MBA in International Hospitality & Service Industries Management
What brought you to the UK? How long have you been here for?
I was born in the North of England and after Technical College the bright lights of London called. Since then, I have lived and worked in many areas of the UK, Dubai and Canada and have been back in London for the last 2 years.
What was your first role after graduating?
My first role after graduating from the Glion online MBA was my present role of General Manager, Sopwell House Hotel, Country Club & Spa in St Albans, a historic luxury hotel set in 12 acres of English countryside just 25 minutes from the downtown London.
Tell us about your current role and summarize it in 3 key points.
I am presently the General Manager, Sopwell House Hotel, Country Club & Spa in St Albans.
1. The overall strategic business leader for the hotel, responsible for aspects of the business performance.
2. Deliver and exceed financial targets for business owners through clear business strategies, delivered through the following key areas:
a. Sales, Revenue and Marketing plans which deliver best price for product and service in the market
b. Financial control, prudence and strategic capital investment plans which enhance financial business return
c. Exceptional guest service and experiences, through creative and market leading services and products.
3. Lead and create a service culture throughout all areas of the business with guests and employees at the heart of everything we do, through recruiting and training a professional, engaged and empowered workforce who deliver a creative and personalized service.
What is your typical day in the office?
Normally I work Tuesday to Saturday but my week can often consist of working 6 days. I drive to work and arrive approximately 7:00. My first point is to walk the hotel, meet the staff and ensure all is in order from breakfast service to housekeeping as they begin to “open the house”. I will then head to my office where I will review the previous days’ financial business, including reports such as the Duty Managers log and make notes for the morning communications meeting. I will then have 15 minutes with my Executive Personal Assistant and 15 mins with my Deputy General Manager for any pressing issues. My day will then be filled with meetings from Owners meetings, Management Development meetings, guest requests and issues, employee and cultural development and strategic meetings such as Sales and Revenue Strategy meetings to financial forecast meetings and legal and compliance meetings such as Health and Safety meetings. I will always walk the floors constantly in-between meetings to meet with and talk to all the team and customers. At 16:30 I will head the wash up meeting where we will discuss any issues from the day and to review actions for the nights’ business and ensure all areas are prepared and ready. After this 12 – 14-hour day I will leave work around 20:00-22:00.
Does your current role match the professional life you imagined having when studying?
Since I was 16 years old I fell in love with the hospitality industry, the work I do today is very different from what I expected from when I was that age. I have learnt over the years that the hospitality industry changes and evolves so quickly it is prudent to always keep an open mind without any preconceived ideas or stances, so thankfully when I entered the online MBA I did so with an open mind.
What are the key changes you see in your role in the next 5 years?
The role of General Manager will always evolve within hotel. It will remain guest centric at its core through financial and sales strategies. But the role will, however, evolve as the industry has an influx of individual owners taking brand flags. The General Managers will require the ability to meet their expectations as well, not just those of institutional investors and their asset managers, which is very different.
It will also continue to evolve dramatically in the use, understanding and communicating of big data, social media and the internet and how these influence consumer purchase and employee engagement.
What are the 3 key trends in your industry right now?
• Technology: Social media, the internet, big data and social media, the platforms that define your business and your workplace
• Guests: To manage the diversity of traveler’s expectations, culturally and generationally, and how to meet and exceed the ever diverging personal preferences of each individual traveler to offer the personalized service they all seek.
• Employees: the globalized workforce, the war on talent and how to create and promote from within without losing creativity, new perspectives and fresh ideas
How would you describe your perfect day off?
Surfing and chilling at the beach
What is your favorite place in London & why?
Kew Gardens, a great place to unwind, to have a picnic by the Thames, the lake, or in any one of the myriad of dedicated gardens such as the Japanese garden. A way to connect with nature in one of the biggest and most vibrant cities in the world.
The Glion Alumni network – what does it mean to you?
Simple really … it means family …. I see the Alumni and my privileged role as one of the UK ambassadors as the ability to meet, mentor, help, give back and shape the future of our industry through our Glion family.
What have been the highlights of your Glion Alumni life in the UK so far?
Helping my amazing fellow Ambassadors Eddy and Hannah plan the monthly Alumni meetings and having the great opportunity to meet some truly amazingly gifted human beings.
What have been the challenges of your Glion Alumni life in the UK?
I would love to find a way of getting all the contact details of all Alumni, in the UK chapter and beyond, a database of individuals whom agree to be contacted and help fellow Alumni.
Top tips for the current Glion students who are planning to move to the UK?
• Never rent the first place you see
• Network through your colleagues, industry institutions and of course the Alumni
• Be the best you can be, have a goal, remain focused and go for it, do not expect 8-hour days!
Finally, what will you do tomorrow? What’s next for you?
I am coming up to 2 years’ service at the hotel now … I’m happy and the hotel continues to challenge me, however, I would love to travel more within different role and maybe do an opening. I also have designs for my own software and consulting business, so I guess watch this space... but whatever I will do, I will love doing it!
What is the best advice you have ever received / A word for the other Glion Alumni in the UK?
Be humble and a sponge and never stop learning and being kind and perception is everything … enough said on that last one …
Final word for the Alumni: get involved, come to the gatherings, help and plan the industry discussions, it’s YOUR Alumni and belongs to all of us, and on a personal note, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn.