Being part of a people business

05 October, 2017 by Vanessa Cavasinni

By Vanessa Cavasinni, editor Australian Hotelier

A pub’s staff can make or break a business, with their commitment and performance to service and hospitality. Shaun Spencer has been with Sand Hill Road for more than five years and has developed his career at the pub group, and the group is always looking to help Spencer with his career aspirations.

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Current role: Venue Operations Manager, Garden State Hotel.

Initial role: Venue Manager, Holliava, in December 2011.

Background: In 1999 my parents owned a pub in Launceston called The Crown Hotel, where I managed the bottle shop and the main bar on weekends until 2003. My next few roles kept me in the same area, working between both pubs and nightclubs in management positions. I also spent a year working in hospitality in Queensland during 2007. In 2011 I made the move to Melbourne. I was at Sand Hill Road’s Holliava for 18 months, before moving to the Richmond Club Hotel.

Career progression: After six months as assistant venue manager at Richmond Club Hotel I was asked to become venue manager, which I held for almost two years. It was a great experience with huge crowds heading into the venue over the weekends, which allowed me to get used to a large venue. I was then asked to move to The Bridge Hotel as venue manager to shape the same business success. Six months later, I applied for the role at Garden State Hotel which would be the company’s biggest venue. In April of 2016 I was offered the position as venue operations manager.

Training: Sand Hill Road is very focused on its training, with opportunities for product training occurring almost daily across the venues. The primary difference to other companies is its strong focus on training the team in people management, leadership, and customer service. We are constantly learning how to build a strong culture in the venues, and how to engage with our staff and patrons.

Career aspirations: I still have plans for my own venue one day, but I’m very happy with being a part of the Sand Hill Road journey. There is plenty left to achieve here, and it’s a great to be a part of it all.

Thoughts on Sand Hill Road: Sand Hill Road puts its people first. To the business, the staff are the most important element. To the staff, the patrons are the most important part. I never thought I would be in the position I am today at Garden State Hotel, and I’ve experienced nothing but support throughout my time at Sand Hill Road. It’s a company that keeps developing and evolving, with a team of directors that push you to get the best out of yourself. Sand Hill Road is the way hospitality should be, with everyone in the company enjoying their roles.

Andy Mullins, Director, on Shaun Spencer

First impressions: From the very first meeting we had with Shaun, there was a clear hunger for knowledge and advancement. He’s one of those guys that just sees an opportunity in every idea. He’s never stood still for a second within Sand Hill Road, and I don’t think he ever will!

Performance: Shaun has played a role in almost every one of our venues over his time at Sand Hill road. The greater the challenge thrown at him, the higher he reaches to meet it. Shaun has always been an amazing operator, but over the past two years he has developed a really high sense of managing the many and diverse personalities that make up a large hospitality venue. It’s been amazing to watch him become such an empathetic but driven driver of people and outcomes.

Fit for the role: Shaun was our very first Garden State appointment. We just knew he had to be there. He had well-earned the shot, and it’s a decision we know has been critical in making the place a success.

On Shaun’s aspirations to own his own venue: We feel absolutely great about that. Many of our past managers have gone on to their own venues, and it makes us extremely proud to know we have somehow played a small role. We stay in close contact with all of them – they know we are only ever a phone call away if they need us. Shaun is essentially family to us. We will do whatever it takes to get him into that position, we couldn’t be more pumped to walk in those doors!

This profile was part of a larger feature on long-term employees in the September issue of Australian Hotelier. You can read the rest of the feature here.