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My Master Innholders Aspiring Leaders Journey by Craig Jackson

Posted in Blog on 22nd Jul 2014 by Northcote | Leave a comment

The Master Innholders Aspiring Leaders Diploma was been designed to provide an educational and academic qualification in Hospitality and Tourism Management. The course is split into eight modules, or blocks. These two day blocks are held throughout the UK in host of varying location and varying hotels. The process of application had been going on for around two months, when during a conversation with Craig Bancroft our Managing Director the application form for Master Inns had been passed to me.

So how do sell myself?… ask me to talk about Northcote and what we offer I can generally talk anyones socks off… but to say why I should be on this course I really struggled… but many versions later my application was complete… time to send it in! Would I be accepted? Never…?! Then two weeks later an email landed in my inbox asking me to attend an interview session in London… I immediately sent a text to Craig B, feeling like Christmas had arrived early!

The Interview day arrived and I remember arriving at Innholders Hall in Londonthinking that this would be a great experience whether I got through to cohort or not. The interviews lasted around 20 min with four members of the panel asking me questions I didn’t expect… “Would you rather give, or receive a gift?” … or “What means you have had a good day, or an excellent day, at work?”. Four days later another email arrived giving me the fantastic news that I had been accepted onto the course and should begin to prepare immediately!

South Lodge Hotel, Horsham, Sussex

Block One
Well 17 individuals who all work in front lint hospitality surely wouldn’t be nervous would they? Wrong! After a very early start on the Sunday Morning we all arrived at South Lodge Hotel to begin our 12 months of learning and personal development. Checking into the room I was instantly aware of the professionalism and charm of the course. A personal welcome card from David Connell, the General Manager of South Lodge, welcomed us to the hotel and asked us to relax and enjoy our stay whilst at the hotel. So 3pm arrived and it was time to meet the groups. Prior to arriving at South Lodge we had all been asked to prepare for a few tasks. The first of which was to research another member of the group. A legal way of stalking was on the cards! So through trawling through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn I had managed to find some information about my selected member. After a very detailed, and sometimes funny, introduction to the group it was time for a little team building…

At 4pm we were asked to meet in recpetion in ‘outdoor clothes and wellie boots’. Buggies took us down into the grounds of the hotel where we took on archery, laser clay pigeon and Segways. Time for the boys to get very competitive! Somehow after one hour of standing in the rain and getting very competitive I came away with a medal… a medal which still to this day sits in my car! Time to head back but with only 15 minutes to warm up/change, the girls of the group panicked that they wouldn’t be ready in time! Getting back to my room I remember thinking what do I wear? Blazer.. jeans? Oh no a Sheep Onesie! Somehow David knew the way to our hearts and had laid out a Onesie for us all to wear in the hotels mascot Lord Minty!

Dinner that evening was very laid back and with a film, burgers and champagne(!), South Lodge was slowly beginning to feel like home! But I hear you ask.. I thought you were supposed to be on a training course? Well Monday arrived and it was time to hit the classroom. As an introduction to the course we covered learning, personal portfolios, CDP, SWOT analysis, SMART objectives, skills assessments teaching styles, reflective cycles, primary & secondary data. After nearly seven hours of learning we were done in… but wow I instantly knew that this wasn’t just any training course but something very very special. A group of like minded individuals who weren’t scared of asking questions and also questioning each other. I was sold, I was officially a Master Innholder Aspiring Leader. The second day was presentation day, and once again split into four groups we prepared our presentation from the following subjects: The Institute of Hospitality, The Master Innholders, The British Hospitality Association and Springboard.

Tuesday night arrived far too quickly and it was time to head back to Northcote. But I was thinking that I instantly felt invigorated, refreshed and ready to head back and pass on the knowledge I had learnt. I also felt like I was leaving behind friends, but also colleagues. An instant network had formed. After quickly swapping numbers, Following each other on twitter and becoming Facebook friends it was time to leave, but not without a warm goodbye from South Lodge… It had been fantastic to learn all about my fellow cohorts who worked at some amazing properties which included The Dorchester, The Balmoral and Le Manoir to name but a few.

However I can say that we all instantly hit it off, and since our first meet we have all stayed in touch, passed on ideas and information and become the true ethos of both the hospitality industry and Master Inns.

We have shared our passion and knowledge of the industry with each other and began the next step in our careers…. All that there is to say is, roll on London and the next Block at Park Plaza Riverbank.

Craig Jackson
Guest Relations Manager at Northcote

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