Luke Slater

Current employer: Victor Manufacturing

Current job title: Project Manager

Current location: UK (South East)

“The support from all the lecturers on both a personal and professional level was fantastic. Our course had a real ‘family feel’ and we had exposure to a brilliant network of employers and industry experts.”

Tell us about your career path since graduation.

After studying at master’s level, my outlook on the hospitality industry changed completely. I wanted to combine research and business development with my passion for the hospitality industry. An opportunity arose with a UK catering equipment manufacturer to join their national accounts team in a new business development role. The idea of working alongside new and upcoming hospitality business was really exciting and I knew I could combine everything I learned at university with my industry experience and passion for working in the hospitality industry. I now work as a Project Manager, designing bespoke servery counters for hotels, schools, pub chains and restaurants, ensuring counters meet customer requirements while also being functional for staff and customers. 

Has your career path changed since graduation?

Just before finishing university, I had accepted a management position in a large hotel. However, something didn’t sit right with me. I’ve always known I would work within the hospitality industry, but it wasn’t until the opportunity came up with Victor Manufacturing that I realised there is so much more to the industry than you first realise. I was excited by the prospect of working ‘for’ the industry, travelling around the country and working alongside lots of new and exciting businesses.

What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?

Without doubt, deciding which route to take after graduation. I had an opportunity to continue working towards hotel management – an industry I was familiar and comfortable with for so long. However, I was also presented with the opportunity to work for the industry with a catering equipment manufacturer – something I had never considered before and far away from my previous experience. It was a huge decision, but the opportunity to join Victor Manufacturing was too exciting to turn down... and I haven’t looked back since!

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

The best thing I have done in terms of career progression was taking a placement year at Hotel Endsleigh, Devon. This exposed me to the industry, gave me an opportunity to learn management skills, and really made me enthusiastic for my final year of study. The most fun thing I have done would be taking my current job at Victor Manufacturing. I travel up and down the country visiting new restaurants, hotels, bars etc. Every week I go somewhere different and get to see what's happening in the industry. It also means I get to eat somewhere new every week.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?

Develop your soft skills whilst you can. It sounds so trivial, but things such as eye contact, confidence, and appearance really are vitally important in a customer facing role. Also, if you're looking for a business development role then you’ll need your research skills. I'm not talking about detailed research methods, but you need to develop a methodical approach to work; research a business, analyse the facts, and use them to build new relationships.

How did studying at Plymouth help you?

The support from all the lecturers on both a personal and professional level was fantastic. Our course had a real ‘family feel’ and we had exposure to a brilliant network of employers and industry experts. I still remember walking around the Plymouth open day. Everyone on campus was helpful, the facilities were great, but most of all, I remember hearing about all the extracurricular opportunities my course could provide. This was delivered throughout my five years of study, and definitely helped.

The skills I obtained from studying at Plymouth have got me to where I am today. The support you get from the staff is brilliant and as long as you take advantage of all the opportunities presented to you, you’ll get great exposure to the ‘real world’. It’s so important to combine studying with industry exposure, and Plymouth is a real powerhouse in making this happen. The city has so much to offer and Dartmoor is on the doorstep... so you can escape when you need to.

International hospitality