My real story: Simon H

Education: Certificate III in Retail Baking (Cake and Pastry) – Apprenticeship

Current position: Executive Pastry Chef, Hilton Sydney

Number of years at the hotel? 1 year

What does my role entail? I’m in charge of the entire pastry and bakery operations for the hotel. Currently we have seven outlets and manage on average 328,000 covers a year.

How I got my start in the hotel industry: I have always wanted to work in hotels, so when I had the chance to do my apprenticeship in the Grand Hyatt Melbourne I jumped at the chance.

Why do you like working in Hotels? As a young child I have always been in love with the feeling of what large hotels offer. Rooms are always luxurious, food extremely fine and associates always friendly. I guess it’s the way a hotel makes you feel. It’s a sense of arrival and feeling of being welcomed. A hotel has the unique ability to make you feel like you are at home when you are away from it. A hotel has lots of departments with lots of different people from lots of different backgrounds. Hotels are always fast paced and many different things are happening. No two days are ever the same and for me, that’s what I love. Always something new, challenging and exciting comes my way.

What surprised you about working in hotels? How big the back of house areas are! As a guest you only see one fifth of the actual hotel.

What my career has looked like to date: I started in a little bakery as a shop assistant. As I watched the bakers baking bread and making cookies etc. I started to open my eyes and help out where possible. From there my love for cooking began. I quickly found myself helping out more and more out the back in the kitchen then out the front selling and making coffee. Soon after I knew that I needed to do an apprenticeship and began the culinary adventure I am currently on.

During your time at this Hotel, what has been your proudest moment? Seeing junior team members grow and develop both personally and professionally. I had a demi chef de partie, she was an amazing pastry chef however needed someone to believe in her and push her to become the manager she wanted to be. I worked extremely close with her, offering as much support as I could, and now she has moved on to become a successful Pastry Chef in charge of a brigade of 10.

What has been your greatest professional achievement to date? I can’t say that I have one single memory of my greatest achievement. For me, every day that we deliver outstanding products that are modern, unique and full of flavour is an achievement. Being able to create something that our guests love, start conversations and create a memory is achievement enough.

Where do you wish to go from here? Food and Beverage Manager, Director of Operations then to General Manager. My ultimate dream is to be VP of Food and Beverage.

What challenges do you face in this role? As mentioned previously, there are always many things going on in a hotel, it’s important not to delay anything. Once you say ‘I’ll do that later’ unfortunately ‘later’ never comes and you will fall behind. The key is to be proactive. Like a chess player, always think 3-4 moves ahead.

Why do you like working in the accommodation industry? Because no two days are ever the same and I personally get the chance to create a memorable experience for our guests.

What message do you have to tell others about working in the accommodation industry? You personally have the chance to make a difference in our guest’s day. From a smile and hello to a wave goodbye. Any chance to enhance our guest’s stay is an amazing feeling. Especially when the guest leaves with a smile.

What advice would you give to people considering a career in Hotels? Hospitality is a lifestyle not a job.

Have you met anyone famous during your career in Hotels? Yes, many, but it would be rude of me to say who.

Can you bust any Hotel career myths? If you don’t LOVE hospitality, hospitality is NOT for you.

What training have you received from your employer as part of your professional development? A few different leadership and management courses, taking me from a Team Leader to Supervisor and then to Manager. Hotels often put a lot of time and resources into their employees. The learning and development opportunities are endless.

Tell us about one of your best Hotel experiences? Being able to go above and beyond for our guests is the best experience I have in hotels. Seeing them smile and leaving with the intention to return is something that makes all the hard work worth it. One of my proudest moments in my career was being part of the Pre-Opening team for the Sheraton Melbourne Hotel. When I started, there were no tiles on the walls, only concrete floors, no kitchen equipment (stoves, ovens, sinks etc.) and the place was still a construction site. In three months, with a lot of hard work, sleepless nights and stressful moments, it was emotional seeing every piece of the puzzle falling into place. Then when we launched and opened to the public – to see and hear the guest’s feedback about how we all did such a wonderful job and created that memorable experience, is a feeling that cannot be replicated.

Do you manage people? If yes, what is that like? Yes, I like the fact that everyone is unique. Different personalities and different opinions. We all see life a little differently and it always helps me look and think outside the box.

What skills have you learnt on the job? Finance, project management, behavioural management, accountability, the list goes on.

What are your working hours like? For me, my work ethic is to see the job complete. I generally am the first in the kitchen and last to leave. At the end of the day it is my responsibility to ensure the smooth running and effectiveness of the Pastry Kitchen’s success.

What’s the pay like? On par with the title.

Anything else you’d like to add? Hospitality is a very rewarding career that will give you the skills in life to be a better human and professional.