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Career Path

Resident hotel manager takes a bigger bite in hospitality

by Isabella Lee

John Drummond
resident manager
InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong
Photo: Edde Ngan
Born into a family of foodies, John Drummond always knew he would work in the culinary arts. For the past two decades he did exactly that. However, Mr Drummond's career recently took a dramatic turn when he enrolled in a management programme, eventually leading him out of the kitchen and directly into contact with guests at the InterContinental Grand Standford Hong Kong as the hotel's resident manager.

Before starting in hospitality, the Glaswegian boy from Scotland always believed he would become a chef. After graduating from school, he commenced formal training in classic French cuisine in his hometown. "It was natural for me to be influenced by my parents' professionsˇXmy mother was a cook and my father was a baker. They spent a lot of time in the kitchen and had the love of making good food," he says.

Appetite for learning

Mr Drummond believes a strong work ethic is required for pursuing a culinary profession, as working long hours at night and early hours in the morning are standard practice for chefs and bakers. To become a great chef and fully understand all aspects of the job, he views every task with equal importance. In the early stages of his career, he would start his day before the other cooks arrived at work. When his superiors instructed him to do a chore, he would complete it above the set standard. Most importantly perhaps, whenever a new opportunity arose, he would volunteer.

While dedication is essential to excelling in the world of fine dining, it takes more than mere diligence to get into the spotlight. Like taste buds that savour new flavours with excitement, Mr Drummond notes that a successful cook should be on an ongoing journey to explore the wonderful diversity of food, cooking methods and styles, bringing out a fresh culinary experience for every customer.

On his road to new menus and exotic tastes, Mr Drummond moved from stand-alone restaurants in Scotland to hotels in Asia, Australia and the Middle East shortly after he started his life in food. "I like reading cookbooks. But they cannot give you the real taste of the food from a foreign country. You have to open your own door, go there and find out the essence of that type of cuisine in its own place," he explains.

In 2004, Mr Drummond joined the InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong as an executive chef. Two years later, he was promoted to director of food and beverage. During this transition, his life changed when he took the Cornell management course arranged by the hotel. The lectures and workshops conducted in Singapore aimed to equip participants with enhanced management and leadership skills, as well as qualities that strengthened Mr Drummond's belief to take up an executive role.

New role

Back in Hong Kong, Mr Drummond confidently left the kitchen and stepped right out to the frontline. "I enjoyed the work behind the scene and I did not feel at ease working outside the place I was so used to. However, after the Cornell course and a lot of reading on management training, I got the sense to go beyond my old comfort zone. From then on, I liked meeting customers, greeting and talking to them every day, listening to their comments, taking the recommendations and serving them with a better dining experience," he remarks.

With 20 years of experience behind him, Mr Drummond continues to climb up the corporate ladder. Through the years he has held executive chef positions and developed a slew of food and beverage concepts for different hotels around the world. By harnessing his talent and integrating his international exposure, Mr Drummond was appointed to his current position in the beginning of this year.

"There are more challenges and hard work in my daily schedule. I need to oversee the operation of our concierge, the front desk, house keeping department and all the services we provide to our guests. Every day is unique because I meet different people from around the world and have a lot of interaction with them. This is the attraction of working in the hotel industry," Mr Drummond observes.

He adds that the vigorous growth of the hotel group will continue to create opportunities for both new joiners and seasoned staff, who aim to provide highly personalised customer service and exceptional hotel facilities. As new properties across the globe and revamp projects in established hotels roll out at a swift speed, active players in hospitality will discover exciting positions and promotions abound.

Taken from Career Times 2 July 2010, B10

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