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Jenny Kaye, Lecturer at Edge Hotel School

  • Date

    Fri 9 Nov 18

Jenny Kaye has more than 22 years of industry experience and has worked for brands such as Whitbread, Crowne Plaza and Hilton.

Jenny has been working in higher education since 2010. With more than 22 years of industry experience, Jenny has worked in a number of operational and management roles prior to her teaching career including restaurants, conference and events, sports stadiums, outside catering and fine dining. Having worked for UK brands such as Whitbread, Crowne Plaza and Hilton, Jenny has also worked abroad in the United States and Australia. To maintain subject currency, Jenny continues to work in industry and she is currently employed as a Stand Manager by Centerplate at Ipswich Town Football Club.  Jenny is now a lecturer at our Edge Hotel School

When did you become interested in a hospitality career?

From a young age, I enjoyed holidays, visiting hotels and going out for dinner with my parents as I got to talk to new and interesting people and loved the atmosphere of a vibrant, busy venue.  I am quite a social person so thrive on the intrinsic motivation gained from working in hospitality. I went to university to study an HND in Hospitality Management (Licensed Retail) and then topped up onto the final year of a BA (Hons) in International Hospitality Business Management.

Is a career in hospitality as exciting as it appears?

Yes, I love it, which is why I continue to work on a casual basis in industry. Many of us eat out, visit hotels and attend events such as concerts, weddings and sports, and so hospitality is part of our everyday lives.  A career in hospitality provides ample opportunities to work in many different types of establishments, venues and organisations, and almost anywhere in the world.  People skills are important, and you need to be able to handle different situations  and to be prepared for things not to go as planned, as anything can happen, which is why it is so exciting, no two days are ever the same.

Why did you decide to move into education?

When working for a hotel booking agency, part of my role was to visit hotels on educational visits and I found myself missing the operational side of hospitality. I decided to move into teaching hospitality to help others achieve their career ambitions. I secured my first teaching role at Colchester Institute in 2010. In 2013 I achieved my Professional Graduate Certificate in Education and then enrolled on a part-time Master’s in Business Administration, graduating in 2017. I love my job and find teaching incredibly rewarding, with graduation day being the most inspiring part of my job, seeing our students recognised for all their hard work.

Can hotel and events management be taught or is experience better?

While experience is invaluable, anyone seeking career progression will enhance employability prospects with an academic qualification. The industry is lacking skilled employees and therefore holding a hospitality or events management degree should improve career opportunities, particularly at management level.  Edge Hotel School undergraduates study a variety of modules that help prepare them for a hospitality career, whether it is within operations, or working for a functional department, such as Human Resources, Sales or Marketing or as a future business owner.

What challenges face the UK hospitality industry?

Brexit presents a number of unknown challenges and I incorporate this into my teaching sessions, preparing students for potential change and issues that may occur on the back of leaving the European Union.  The industry relies on a number of migrant workers and therefore there may be increased pressures on staffing, alongside financial constraints with the fluctuating value of UK Sterling and exchange rates, alongside rising costs and changes in the Living Wage/Minimum Wage.  However, Britain has also experienced record numbers of foreign tourists and, as the cost of overseas holidays has also gone up, more UK nationals are opting for Staycations, choosing to travel, book accommodation and visit tourist attractions and events in their home country. This presents opportunities for industry to adapt to increased demand and revenue.

The rise of zero-hours contracts also presents challenges for hospitality businesses. This type of employment contract provides flexibility and cost savings, however there is rising concern as to employment rights and therefore should be managed effectively.