A day in the life of… Graduate Cambridge hotel general manager Chris Douglas – Cambridge Independent

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SINCE 1819
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Ahead of the Cambridge BID and Cambridge Independent job fair on October 4, 2022, we’re speaking to people in a number of roles around the city.
This week, we spoke to Chris Douglas, general manager of the Graduate Cambridge hotel.
Is there a typical day?
As general manager of Graduate Cambridge there are many things I oversee daily to ensure we meet our business objectives. The only way to achieve this is to provide great experiences for those people who work with us and those who come to visit the hotel.
When I arrive in the morning, it is really important to walk the hotel, ensure all is in order and greet as many people as I can. Our team has briefings about the current day and days ahead and holds calls with internal teams to make sure we are on track from a high level. Weekly, I meet with different department heads and we look at the past week and the future weeks to address issues and opportunities.
I really enjoy it when I am part of client meetings to help build relationships or convert a piece of business especially when it allows me to dine with them in our restaurant, Garden House.
Emails and Teams calls are also a large part of the day that need addressing frequently.
Overall, if we have a happy team that leads to very happy guests who want to return to the hotel. If we achieve that it, is a great day.
When did you join?
I started in the industry when I was 16, and started as General Manager with the former DoubleTree in December 2016, which launched as Graduate Cambridge in 2021.
How did you get to where you are now?
I started in Aberdeen when I was 16 in the then Stakis Tree Tops hotel.
I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in hospitality management at Robert Gordon University and went on to do a management training programme, working my way up in different hotels.
I started with Hilton in 2007 in Edinburgh and worked in Wales, Ireland and then on to Cambridge as general manager of the DoubleTree Cambridge. Since then Graduate Hotels have purchased the hotel and completed a wonderful renovation and launched the brand in the UK with Graduate Cambridge and The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels in Oxford.
What do you love about what you do?
There are so many things to enjoy about my role; seeing a guest leave the hotel really happy after their visit, whether that is a leisure stay, a corporate visit or a very complex meeting or wedding etc… These are the special moments that mean so much. I also love seeing my team enjoy their roles, develop their skills, grow their personalities and just have genuine fun on the job.

Tell us about the toughest part of your job – and the most fun.
The last few years have of course been challenging for the hospitality industry in particular, but have also provided an opportunity for us to evaluate what’s working and what may need to change. The Cambridge community is constantly growing and we’ve worked to recruit and retain team members against that to continue providing exceptional hotel stays and dining experiences. We’re proud of our hard-working team that is dedicated to this community while also offering locals and travellers the best experience possible.
Do you remember how you felt on your first day?
My first ever day in a hotel was fascinating…. Seeing the size of a commercial kitchen, the amount of equipment, the size of the pots and pans… My first day with Graduate Hotels was so exciting, we had just completed (and were still in the middle of) a massive renovation, and we had a wedding party staying with us. As the guests were arriving, we were working in real time to ensure the space was ready and that the guests had a wonderful welcome. We received a lovely thank you letter from them, which made it all worthwhile.
What advice would you give to someone looking to work in your industry?
This is a fantastic industry with so many opportunities to try different jobs – from being a chef or an accountant to marketing the hotel or making wonderful cocktails. As an industry, we also have many roles that you can start with no experience and grow into other roles.
There is so much flexibility in the jobs we offer, too, from being full-time working flexible hours or part-time roles that meet your personal needs.
This is an industry for all. We ask that you have a great attitude, be willing to work hard and want to deliver great experiences for all our guests.
What’s great about working in Cambridge?
It’s such a beautiful city in which to work and we get such a variety of people that come to visit and work in the hotels.
It is great that so many people want to come and visit Cambridge to see the wonderful architecture, the history, the museums, go punting etc, which all contribute to bringing guests into our hotels, bars and restaurants.
What do you aim to do in the future to further your career?
For now, launching the Graduate Hotels brand at Graduate Cambridge is a fantastic challenge and adding to my skill set. To be part of the growth of Graduate Hotels in the UK over the coming years may open up some exciting opportunities for me.
Don’t miss our jobs fair
Interested in exploring new career opportunities – or attracting new staff? Cambridge BID and the Cambridge Independent are joining forces to host a job fair in Cambridge on October 4, 2022.
Featuring all sectors within the Cambridge BID area – from hospitality and retail, to office-based jobs and beyond – the job fair will take place at the beautifully renovated Downing Place United Reformed Church, from 10am-3pm. It’s free for visitors.
Want a stall? Email natalie.cargill@cambridgebid.co.uk.
You can also read: A day in the life of… John Lewis’ deputy branch manager Charlotte Williams.

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