Gregory Bogdan – London Bridge Hotel
The London Bridge hotel, established in 1998, is at the foot of the Shard, one of London’s tallest – and magnificent – buildings. Set in a 1915 building opposite London Bridge train and tube stations, the contemporary hotel is ideal for visitors to the capital who seek to enjoy the sights of central London while staying in style.
Gregory Bogdan is Front of House Manager, as well as Human Resources Manager for this independent hotel. Greg’s team are very motivated and engaged, and because of this their staff turnover is low for the hospitality industry. We spoke more with Greg about his role at the hotel.
How and why did you get into the industry?
When I was 15 I heard about a hotelier school opening in my home town in Poland, which looked so grand from the description! I applied to the school, got a place, and that is where my journey started. I love it and would never go back and change it.
Tell us about how you came to join the team.
It was a coincidence! I arrived in London about 11 years ago and spent the first week sightseeing. After my leisure time I decided to look for a job, and after sending out my CV I was disappointed that I didn’t hear anything from anyone for about a week or so. Then the telephone started ringing, and I had three interviews scheduled on exactly the same day!
All the interviews were in different parts of London, so you can imagine the stress as I wasn’t familiar with how to read the A-Z map at the time. My second interview was at the London Bridge Hotel and before I got there, I received a call from my first interview with an offer! The next morning I got a call from the last interview saying that they wanted me to work for them too. I thought how lucky I was. My friend worked for London Bridge Hotel at the time, so I called her and told her about the offers. She -asked me not to accept anything yet, and shortly after, her manager called and offered me the job of receptionist – I was torn, but the other two propositions were from big chain hotels and when I used to work for chain hotels in Poland I didn’t enjoy them, as in my experience you lose your individuality and become just a number.
But the London Bridge Hotel is an independent…
Yes – and I chose to work for London Bridge Hotel because it is independent, I liked the atmosphere when I arrived for the interview and I had a friend there that made my start a little bit easier. Eleven years later, I am still here!
London Bridge Hotel is a four-star boutique hotel, mainly for business travellers in the weekdays and leisure guests at the weekends. Our guests come from all over the world, and our service has to reflect that. Apart from being professional the staff have to be friendly and knowledgeable. We make sure that we can tell them things and show them places that they will never read about in the guidebooks.
Is hospitality recruitment difficult because of the high standard of the hotel, is? Are there different procedures?
Sometimes the process can be challenging but the hospitality recruitment process itself is no different to any other company. We try to keep it simple so we don’t have elaborate and complicated processes in place. Saying that apart from a good CV you must have personality and individuality! You may have an impressive CV but if you don’t have charisma, charm and ‘smiley’ eyes it will be difficult to convince me. I don’t ask tricky questions during the interviews – I want candidates to be relaxed and be themselves. The downfall of an independent hotel is that not all the hospitality recruitment tools are available for us however we have collected a good database of candidates which we keep very relevant. I tend to turn for help to Platinum Recruitment for senior hospitality job roles for our organisation – I rely on their expertise and knowledge. So far it works well.
Looking to get work in London? Contact the Platinum team to find out about our latest vacancies or search our up to date hospitality job page.
What do you offer staff that is different from a chain hotel?
We offer solutions to their career needs and requirements on a personal level; we focus on our staff members as individuals and concentrate on their personal development. I worked with many planning their successions within the company but also we train staff so their expertise is transferable outside our organisation. You tell me what you want, work hard and I will try to make it happen!
You are Front of House and HR. How do you keep your staff motivated?
I think one of the most important things is to have your staff engaged so I put emphasis on good understanding of their roles within the organisation. I have a strong working relationship with my employees on a one-to-one level, and they know that I am available at any time for them. I am a massive fan of open and clear communication and get frustrated when I hear about any issue involving an employee related to misunderstanding or lack of communication with their line managers – I take it very seriously. I want to make sure that our staff are empowered, respected and valued and most of all that they have a manager who listens and supports their development. That’s the best motivation. I like to create individual development plans for staff so that they can develop within the hotel, some of my employees started at very bottom of the ladder and now hold senior management roles. As I said before – we focus on the individual here.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy everything! I know it may sound unbelievable, but I really do enjoy it all –especially the fact I can get involved in many projects related to the hotel operations. Although I have a dual role, most of my time is dedicated to Human Resources. I have autonomy to create and shape the direction of our HR department. I enjoy employee relations and change in particular. I like to implement ideas especially the one brought to me by employees. Staff are the core to our organisation and it is very refreshing to see their engagement in the process of change – they actually have power to change things! They are what makes our organisation! I do enjoy contact with our guests, sadly my schedule does not allow me to do it very often but I keep in touch with our regular guests and make myself available for their arrivals. I have been given a great opportunity and I use it to full capacity.
What advice would you give someone who would like a career in hospitality?
I would say that if you are passionate about people, if you take pride in helping others this is the industry for you. The sky is not a limit in the hospitality – you can go far beyond the clouds!
For more information on The London Bridge Hotel check out the hotel Facebook and Twitter pages…
Want to work alongside hospitality professionals like Gregory Bogdan?
If you are considering a career in hospitality or looking for a new position, contact us at Platinum Recruitment. Our wide range of hospitality jobs, including chef jobs and hotel receptionist jobs, which are updated daily.