Erin Randell graduated with a Diploma of Hospitality Management in December of 2019. Brittany (QTHC Marketing Co-ordinator) and Bev (QTHC Hospitality Trainer) caught up with Erin to talk about all things hospitality, management and life.
Photo: Erin Randell & Richard Finlayson (QTHC Managing Director)
Brittany: Tell us a bit about your employment history.
Erin: I was working in hospitality for many years but I needed extra money, so I moved into retail and worked at Target. I then bought a house and moved into a role at AGL. I worked my way up from the call centre to a technical coach, to high-level technical complaints. They were a great company to work for and I gained so many skills in management including how to deal with people and manage conflict. After ten years there, AGL has helped me to develop skills in retail sales, learn team management, mentoring, high level communication and develop resilience under pressure. I needed a change; my mental health was suffering and I wanted to go back to hospitality and do some waitressing for a while. Now I work Saturday’s at SAJC as a supervisor and Monday to Friday in aged care as a hospitality supervisor, managing housekeeping. I manage 11 staff every day and a whole laundry for 127 residents.
Bev: That role is amazing, there is so much that goes on, it’s not just housekeeping, it’s cleaning and you organise all of the rooms and the staff.
Brittany: What prompted you to apply to study with QTHC?
Erin: I participated in Hospitality Hire through a job provider because all of my hospitality certificates had expired and were approximately 15 years old! I wanted to make a career change and move back into working in the hospitality industry. I found out about the course through Simon Ward (QTHC National Sales & Marketing Manager) and was reading up on it. I was surprised to figure out that I already knew most of this stuff! I was lucky enough to apply for and be granted a full SA Government scholarship to study my diploma part time whilst continuing to work in my full-time job in aged care. In my application letter I explained that I had all this experience in other industries but I really wanted to go back to hospitality and I needed something, like a diploma, to get me back to the level of expertise that I needed. With a diploma behind me, I would also be getting financially rewarded for the skill level that I was at. I work for Eldercare as a hospitality supervisor. There I am responsible for the laundry and cleaning team. Every module in this diploma has matched my role at Eldercare and given me working examples to draw from.
Erin: I quickly worked out that while I had accumulated an impressive resume of management skills, I needed a different skill set to work in a supervisory role in the hospitality world.
Brittany: What are your day to day tasks and responsibilities as a Hospitality Supervisor in aged care?
Erin: I make sure that my staff do their room cleans properly. We have infection control standards we need to adhere to for aged care. When people pass away we have to effectively flip the room. You have to be sensitive to family, staff and other residents. Then somebody new moves in and sometimes they are there for a couple of weeks and they might pass away or they might move out to another aged care facility. Managing older people is as challenging as managing toddlers... but they have 80 years of knowledge, so they don’t believe anything you say, rather than a toddler who has no clue what you are talking about!!!
Usually my day is quite routine but any day of the week there could be a crisis moment and I suppose that is the same throughout the hospitality industry. Before I was working for Eldercare, I was doing casual work during the week at SAJC. Monday’s are usually polishing day where staff just polish cutlery and glassware. We were always prepared for something to happen and interrupt this routine. There could be a conference booked in for two days time and everything changes, you just have to adapt. It’s the same in aged care. I could be doing my linen delivery; which I have to do every single day and I could come across a situation or an incident and I have to just fix it there and then.
Brittany: Where would you like to work?
Erin: I am a baker by trade and worked as a cook. My original dream was to be a baker, I love cooking and love cakes and won many prizes at the Royal Show when I was younger. Although I would have loved to have become a baker, I unfortunately developed a skin dermatitis allergy to yeast! The ultimate goal and what Bev and I have been working towards, is using my position and learned skills from working in aged care, to further my career and get into hotel management.
My mum wants me to go into the new Hyatt or Adelaide Oval. I said to mum that wasn’t sure if I had enough experience just yet to get a job in hotel management, but maybe if I can get a job at a hotel as a supervisor or assistant first.
Bev: That would be a good start.
Erin: I have no problem starting from wherever I need to. I am a hard worker and I am a big believer that if you can prove that you can do the work and show that you know what you are talking about, then people will automatically just follow you and your place of work will realise that you need to be in a leadership position.
Bev: Hard work pays off.
Brittany: Did you enjoy studying your Diploma in Hospitality Management?
Erin: When the opportunity to consider further study came from QTHC, it was exactly at the right time for me. I have realised that the Diploma of Hospitality Management has enabled me to pull together all of my previous jobs into one new and improved skillset. Something Bev and I have spoken about in every single subject is that I already know all of this! All of the learnings are relevant to hospitality but also relevant to any management position.
Photo: Erin Randell, Bev Arnfield (QTHC Hospitality Trainer) & two graduating students
Brittany: How has Bev assisted you in your study?
Erin: Oh, she’s great! She has been so supportive and she has really reaffirmed that I need to trust my own knowledge. We have the same conversation almost every month where I always doubt what I am doing. She has always told me to trust my own judgement and trust what my own gut is telling me to do in a situation and that is solid advice.
Brittany: What do you think the most important thing that you have learned in your career is?
Erin: You can’t just talk the talk, you have to walk the walk. Because anybody can be a manager but to be a really good manager you have to actually know what you are talking about. And so, if you have actually done the job and if you actually understand what happens behind the scenes like rostering, meeting budget, being environmentally conscious, and all of these important things, then people will follow you. They honestly will. And you have to be humble. You cannot have an ego.
Brittany: Tell us a little bit about your life outside of hospitality.
Erin: So, it’s been a year and a half of studying part-time, working full-time and working Saturday’s. I have two home-stay Vietnamese students that live with me. One of them has been with me for almost three years and the other one, a year and a half. They are high school students, one of them is in year 12, so I have had to juggle proof-reading most of her English assignments. We have had a few fights because I have said that I need to sit down and do my homework and you guys just need to leave me alone for two hours.
Bev: Do you cook for them?
Erin: I cook Australian and they love it! When they came back from Vietnam this year, I picked them up from the airport and one of them said to me that she really wanted spaghetti and meatballs. Seriously they love everything except for sausages.
Bev: Do they cook for you?
Erin: If I ask them to, they will cook for me. They make cold rolls with pork mince.
Bev: Have you been to Vietnam?
Erin: It’s on my list to go to Vietnam. One of them, her dad has come here and taken us out for dinner. Oh! I have also taught her to drive too. She just got her P’s. I am basically getting paid to be their mum and I love it.
Brittany: What advice would you give a new intake of students?
Erin: Keep an open mind, don’t question your already existing knowledge because people have a tendency to overthink stuff and I think once you start getting into that cycle of overthinking, it’s hard to get out of. Trust what you already know because if you have chosen to do a diploma, you probably already have an idea and some underlying knowledge.
Brittany: Finally, do you have anything else you would like to say?
Erin: I am so grateful to my mentor, Bev Arnfield. She has encouraged and motivated me every month, reassuring me when I wasn’t sure how I would get a project done.