Dave Amans' Story
I had a degree in leisure management and working in a hotel was a first step into the leisure sector; when I joined Accor I was lucky to fall under GM Pat’s umbrella. After a few weeks she suggested the graduate programme as career development, which was a structured fast track management training programme.
It lasted two years and I had to spend one year in each of two brands; I did my first year in ibis Chesterfield and the second at Novotel Birmingham airport. Every two months there was a core training module – sales & marketing, finance, team building – and in the final year we did research into an operational project, which was like a dissertation, and measured the results. Then we had to present that to senior directors of Accor UK. The results from that were often taken into operations and implemented at ground level.
At the end of that you are ready for a junior management position and I applied for a job as assistant manager at an ibis that was launching in Nottingham; that was my first experience of doing an opening. I was there for three and a half years and did a senior management training programme, which prepared me for a GM role.
I went into retail because I’d done nine years with Accor and a couple of years as a GM in Ibis, when somebody contacted me about the role of store manager with Tesco Express. There are a lot of transferable skills from hospitality to retail: the day to day management of people, the same contact with customers and again, each day is different and the business is influenced by any number of things that can go on during the day and you have to adapt. However, after a couple of years I missed hospitality and missed hotels so I returned to a hotel GM role again, which was an extremely easy decision and I immediately felt back at home.
I have done four openings and until the minute you open the doors, the role is more project manager than general manager: organisation, communication, timing; liaising with new suppliers, contractors and other third parties – you are putting that structure together to get you to the opening.
The day you open the doors you feel something change as the project management is behind you and you slot into the day-to-day stuff you are used to doing. I think that’s why I’ve done so many openings; you either love it or hate it and I love it. It’s hard work and you end up doing all sorts of hours and it’s a bit frantic and stressful at times, but also very rewarding when it all comes together.
To someone newly in the sector, every day is different; you have to be open-minded and adaptable to handle that quick change of environment, and open to working with people. I remember going on training courses about how to check people in or out, it was structured, and it’s the opposite now: we are trying to create an experience and part of that is to put your personality into it and personalise it. You have to be genuine and let people see the real you.
For those looking for work, hospitality is a great platform on which to build your career, learn lots of skills and get a feel for which aspects of the business you like. And from operations, people can go into a multitude of sectors such as central support – finance, accountancy, health & safety, and then build on that.
And you can move around locally, regionally, nationally, internationally, and to different brands – economy, luxury, especially with a company like Accor; hospitality can open lots of doors for you. When I was 20, I was considering the opportunity to travel the world, maybe go to North America with Accor. I’ve got two kids but perhaps when they’re a bit older I might still do that.
- Dave Amans
- General Manager
- Ibis Budget Sheffield Centre