Sue Hough: Career Profile

Sue Hough has been in housekeeping for the last 25 years

How I got to where I am now: 

I started in hospitality when I was 16, training as a silver service waitress. I went to college straight from school, but mainly did City & Guilds foodservice and food prep exams, I didn't do anything with housekeeping then. When I left college I moved to work for De Vere at the Bellhouse Hotel in Beaconsfield and I worked there in their conference department for just under 12 months, but it's quite a remote hotel for a young person, so I moved into London and helped open the Ibis hotel next to Euston station, still working in food and beverage.

While I was there I had a couple of evening jobs at the Royal Festival Hall and the American Express Club - I had loads of energy then! 

The way I fell into housekeeping was actually a bit of a fluke, because I got talking to a lady who was working in recruitment while I was working at an event at Royal Festival Hall and I said to her I wasn't feeling very challenged in what I was doing. I was doing a lot of work, but it didn't give me any passion. I loved hospitality, but I didn't know where I was going with it and this lady had gone into recruitment, but she'd been a housekeeper originally. She said a friend of hers in HR at the Royal Horseguards was looking for a temporary house keeping supervisor and I'd done a little bit of housekeeping when I was at the Bellhouse, so I went for an interview with her, got the job and I've stayed in housekeeping ever since - that was 25 years ago. 

I worked at the Royal Horseguards and then the Tara hotel, which I think is about 860 bedrooms to get some experience of working somewhere bigger before coming back to Manchester in 1989 where I got a job in housekeeping at the Bolton Moathouse Hotel. I stayed there for about five years, but wanted to come into the centre of town, so went on to work at The Midland - when it went from a Holiday Inn to a Crowne Plaza - and I stayed there for eight years and it was there that I really learned my trade, because I was a deputy housekeeper then. 

From there I did four consecutive openings - to Great John Street, to the Hilton Deansgate, then to City Inn where I became executive housekeeper and then from there to the Crowne Plaza.  Every position was secured through people I'd worked with previously, the only interview I had was at the Crowne Plaza where I stayed for three years. 

I was approached by the operations manager then at the Macdonald Hotel to come here and I considered it, because I'd got to the stage where the Crowne Plaza was running itself. I had such a strong team that we'd trained so well, it just ticked over, so the challenge wasn't there anymore. When this opportunity came here I jumped at it. 

My biggest challenge: 

This is my biggest department here at the Macdonald Manchester. I look after a team of 60, so there are a lot of people to look after and the hardest thing has been changing people, trying to re-train and re-educate them to get them to focus more on the quality of service they were offering. Because I'd done four consecutive openings, we'd all started together and you can train people from the start - you're all on the same footing, so when you inherit a team you've got different levels of experience and training they've been given. The challenge is gelling all that together to make sure you're all working in the same direction. 

My greatest achievement: 

Being involved with four major openings in Manchester. When you take on an opening you have to set up your systems, your purchasing, you set up the appearance of your rooms and you start with a builders' clean when you get on-site. You can do two of those before you do a clean and set and getting rid of plaster dust can be hard. It's just the organisation of it all when you do openings.  

What I love about housekeeping:

The thing I like about housekeeping is it keeps my brain active. Every day is different. I do bore quite easily so I have to be kept active. Just sitting in an office all day would drive me crazy and housekeeping is different every day. Every day is a challenge and I just love the buzz of it. I love the satisfaction it gives. Housekeeping are also involved in every department of a hotel and that's what I love about it. You get the opportunity to delve into every area. 

Top tips for working in housekeeping:

You need to have a good eye for detail and like a challenge, because every day is different. You also need to be good with people because not only are you dealing with guests, but you'll often work in a big department so you'll be working with a large team. Most of all you need to want to work. It's a thankless task sometimes, seeing the state of rooms when people have departed - they don't treat them like their own home - so it's being able to motivate yourself to turn that around. Self motivation is key. 

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