Hotel Director at the Holiday Inn Salisbury-Stonehenge, David Lane, tells us about the importance of placements and the life skills gained on his degree.
Tell us about your career path since graduation.
I was given an amazing opportunity when I left university and started as a Business Analyst at Millennium Hotels. I was with the group for 16 years and held a number of different posts during that time. This gave me exposure to project management, international openings, sales and marketing and operational management. More recently, I have moved to IHG where I am the Hotel Director at the Holiday Inn Salisbury-Stonehenge.
Has your career path changed since graduation?
The biggest change for me was the decision to get back into operations having spent some five years in a head office environment. This presented a huge challenge for me and a completely different lifestyle, but I don’t regret a second of it.
What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?
The pace of change always presents a challenge and trying to stay on top of current trends and how best to adapt your business to meet the needs of your guests is always a pressing matter. I think technology will continue to drive change in our industry, creating innovation and efficiencies and the biggest challenge will be to recognise the right technology for the future.
What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?
I had the opportunity to travel at the beginning of my career and whilst some sacrifices had to be made, for example social life, it was a very exciting time. I was lucky enough to travel across Europe, the Middle East and America which really did open my eyes to the different cultures of these regions. I went to some amazing places and met some fascinating people; given the opportunity, I would recommend this to anyone.
What, if anything, would you do differently if you could?
I don’t think I would do anything differently as I am strong believer in the fact that you need to make mistakes in order to develop and progress your own skills. But it is important to recognise when you have made a mistake, understand why and what you can do to correct it.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?
Get as much experience as you can whilst you are studying as this will really help in the early stages of your career. Be prepared, also, to continue to learn during your career. Every day I learn something new and gain a little more experience. Whoever said you can know everything was wrong!
How did studying at Plymouth help you?
My degree gave me a really good understanding of hospitality but, probably more importantly, how to manage and run a business. It also gave me a huge amount of life skills which allowed me to build my own confidence, both personally and professionally.
Did you undertake a placement during your degree and if so, how did this benefit you?
I did my placement at Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland and would strongly recommend that everyone does a placement. It allows you to get a better understanding of putting what you have learnt so far into practise, and for your final year to be able to relate subjects to past experiences. My only regret was that I focused solely on food and beverage and, in hindsight, some time in other departments would have been of benefit.
What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?
It has to be the sense of community and the support you received from both lecturers and your peers. There was, and I know there still is, a genuine wish to see people succeed and completing a degree isn’t easy, so this support is invaluable.
Do you stay in touch with other Plymouth University alumni or lecturers?
I still say in touch with some lecturers and actively follow the latest developments at the University. Some of my best friends were made during my time at Plymouth and I still stay in touch with many of them today.
Would you recommend undertaking a course with Plymouth University, and why?
Absolutely, Plymouth is a great place to live and the quality of education and level of support is first class. The University has seen significant development and growth over the past fifteen years and the facilities and learning environment now is enviable.