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Case study: Sian Humpherson, Group Business Development Manager, Royal Oak Hotels (Betws-Y-Coed) Ltd

Sian Humpherson standing on mountain with sea in background

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About

Sian Humpherson is the Group Business Development Manager for Royal Oak Hotels (Betws-Y-Coed) Ltd. Sian grew up in Llanystumdwy in North Wales when her parents moved there from the Midlands to open a business in the area. Sian loved North Wales so much that even after stints travelling and living in different countries, she still decided to come back to the area to settle down and progress her career in hospitality. Find out what she loves about working for this industry and living in North Wales.

What was it like growing up in North Wales?

"My memories of childhood are ones of long summers on the beaches of Penllyn, exploring rock pools and sea kayaking, autumns spent in woodlands foraging for blackberries and sloes and days out racing up mountains with my sister and the dog. It was idyllic and I am eternally grateful my parents decided to make the move from suburbia to full on countryside living!"

What inspired you to apply for a job in the tourism and hospitality industry?

"My move to hospitality happened as a complete accident by helping out in a local French bistro my sister was working in at the time - I ended up staying for the whole summer and put my creative skills to use by becoming the pastry chef! The Chef-Owner had a fabulous kitchen garden where we gathered edible decorations and learnt about traditional French ingredients …and so my career in hospitality started! I was hooked, it was a whole new world of wine, methodology, ingredients and alchemy!"

"One of the reasons I stayed in the industry was the flexibility the hours gave me. Whilst being non-traditional in-terms of 9-5 the benefits of being able to schedule work around life rather than being stuck in an office all day really suited my lifestyle. I could go out with the dogs in the morning and have plenty of time to get to work for midday."

How long have you worked in your current position?

"I’ve been in my current position for nearly 4 years. I returned to Wales after a year out travelling and had applied for different roles in different parts of the UK but once you’ve lived in Wales and know its heart, it kinda captures you like no other. So when my old employer got in touch and said he’d heard I was back and looking for a job it was quite an easy decision to make."

How long have you worked for your current employer?

"I moved back to Wales in 2002 from a 10 year stint in Scotland and started working for the company as the Operations Manager for the Royal Oak site. In 2008 I came back from a sabbatical in France and took up a cross-site role to encompass the Waterloo-Hotel & Lodges."

What does a typical day look like in your current role?

"There is nothing typical about my day - which is one of the things I love about my job! I can go from answering emails in the morning, to meeting with our interior designer at lunchtime, to helping out on recruitment fairs in the afternoon. My role is all-out developing the business so I do a lot of coaching with the team and seeing what needs there are within the business. This can range from up-skilling staff to organising new software or installing a complete new tech system."

What do you enjoy most about your current job role?

"I love that we are so developmental in our attitude and responsive to market needs. My job offers a wide variety of opportunities, which brings about varied, interesting and challenging projects. It gives me the creative freedom to be involved from conception to delivery. And even though we’re working on different projects throughout the company, it still feels as though we’re a cohesive team who has the same vision and are working towards the same goals. Our values underpin being part of a rural community - you really feel as though you’re a valued part of something working for an independent company."

From your experience, what’s the best thing about living and working in North Wales?

"The mountains, no the sea, no the woodlands and forests, no the culture oh and the mountain biking and paddle-boarding and the views round every corner… oh actually maybe it’s the stunning commute and being able to walk on the beach after work or the ponies at Idwal or a Welsh Cream tea…… Do I have to choose one thing? Basically I get to do an interesting varied job with a bunch of fab people who are passionate about using local seasonal and fresh produce, making sure we use local trade as much as possible to create sustainable communities and on my days off I have the most amazing list of things I could go off and do!"

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

"North Wales has always been my playground and I’m a regular mountain hiker. There’s so much diversity in such a small area with mind-blowing views, the difficulty is in deciding where to go rather than what to do! Heading out onto the water on the paddle boards or kayaks is one of my fave things to do - with so many lakes in such a small area it’s not difficult to find a new spot to paddle. I’m also an avid art lover and the culture Conwy County holds for any creative is quite mesmerising - from the contemporary at Mostyn to the modern at Ffin y Parc. Wales is alive with creatives and I find inspiration even in the smallest of places."

What would you say to someone thinking about applying for a job in the tourism and hospitality industry?

"Do it… it gives you so much more than you ever think it could. The opportunity to meet so many people from so many different places and it opens the world up in terms of transferable skills. It also teaches life skills and so many routes into all sorts of different disciplines. I’ve worked in training teams bringing on first line management and have been seconded to marketing departments to develop campaigns within my corporate career path. Working for an independent has made community projects come alive. I can’t imagine another industry which would offer so much diversity or interesting routes to creating a career path that you can be totally involved in."

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  • Case study: Sian Humpherson, Group Business Development Manager, Royal Oak Hotels (Betws-Y-Coed) Ltd

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