Lynn Seehasuth's Story
I started working in hospitality at 16 when I was studying; when my dad was a chef in the Novotel in Cardiff and I was in school, I had a part-time job as a receptionist. However, we were still able to have dinner together and since then, dinner with friends has always been really important to me – it is how I socialise.
My dad has been in hospitality his whole life and although the hours are difficult, he has been able to maintain a positive attitude and still be a great parent. Also, we were able to get closer because we worked together, though we maintained a professional attitude. He still works at the Novotel in Cardiff.
I was quite lucky, I had a lot of mentors, people who were older than me and who guided me. When you are 16, 18, you are still discovering life and there’s still a lot to know about the world, so older people end up being mentors or family members because they can give you so much life advice. And that enabled me to be curious and ask lots of questions; it was an environment where I could do that.
My love of hospitality started when I had my first job in reception in Cardiff with my dad. Then, I moved to university in Bristol and was able to transfer to the Novotel there and be a part-time reception while I was studying. After I graduated, because I was already in the industry, when a position in meetings & events came up, I was able to take it and have a full-time job; it was perfect timing. At the time, it was hard for graduates to find full-time jobs and a lot of my peers couldn’t find one they wanted.
From there I moved over to reservations and sales, and I’m now in operations. It has been useful to understand the foundations of working in a hotel.
When you are in the industry, it is important to be proactive, always be on your toes; hospitality is so fast-changing and you need to show you are interested. Be curious, ask questions, there is always something to learn – and not always in your own department, ask about other areas. At the moment, people want to be told but to be a leader or manager you need to take the initiative. You will get there in the end but if you sit still, you won’t get anywhere; don’t wait for opportunities to come to you.
Hospitality is hard work and not very well paid but Accor pays well. If you are low-skilled, you need to have the will to learn and if you take the initiative, there will always be a place for you. You can have qualifications but hospitality also provides leadership and apprenticeship programmes and you can also obtain life skills in work, how to communicate with people, manage your time or even just to gain confidence. I think that’s really important and it’s something you can definitely gain in hospitality.
It is rewarding when someone with no experience comes into the sector and you train them up and can see them get promoted; I always like to take people under my wing. One thing I learned from working in reservations and sales is that I wanted to do more than just my job; I was keen to get into operations. When I trained colleagues in reservations and reception, I told them they needed to know what is going on in other departments, to help in food & beverage or conferences. Always expand your skillset so that you can assist in every department; we are a family – we spend 8 or more hours, five days a week together – it is natural to help each other. It is nice to see people doing these things with the passion I do.
- Lynn Seehasuth
- Operations Manager
- Novotel Bristol Centre (UK)