#039 – Hospitality Meets Mike Worley – The Training & Development Leader

In the first of 2 episodes today, we delve into the world of training & development with Mike Worley, Operations Director at HIT Training (www.hittraining.co.uk)

Mike has spent a fair few years in Training and Development and it’s clear through our conversation that he’s as passionate and energised as he’s ever been.

As always, we get through lots including The Kitchen, Restaurant, being gifted some tips, training, being given a chance, making your own luck, communication, life skills, educating schools and of course Mike’s wonderful journey.

Mike’s conversation style is very anecdotal. It’s a cracker.


Show Transcription


people, hospitality, industry, organisation, apprenticeship, trainers, role, chef, job, hotel, sector, restaurant, staff, years, skills, pub, programme


Phil Street, Mike Worley

Phil Street 00:01

Welcome to hospitality meets with me Phil street where we take a light hearted look into the stories and individuals that make up the wonderful world of hospitality. Today’s guest is Mike Worley, Operations Director for HIT training in the UK. Coming up on today’s show… Mike gets aggressive towards Phil…

Mike Worley 00:21

Who do you think you are trying to tell us what to do type of thing

Phil Street 00:24

Phil strikes back with a line of his own… That’s down to you, you need to take a look at yourself in the mirror. And Mike tells of a time of High Jinx in the kitchen…

Mike Worley 00:32

And he got the head and the four trotters just underneath the lid looking up

Phil Street  00:37

All that and so much more as Mike talks us through His story and journey to date, as well as talking about the world of training and all that can add to the business. Don’t forget we release a new episode every Wednesday. So we’d love for you to hit that subscribe button on your favourite podcast app and give us a like and share it across your favourite social channels. Enjoy. Hello, and welcome to the next edition of hospitality meets with me Phil Street. Today we’re joined again by someone from the world of trading. Having had a chat with one of his colleagues, Simon Lewis earlier, I’m delighted to be joined by Operations Director for HIT training. Mike Worley. Mike, welcome to the show.

Mike Worley 01:11

Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Phil Street 01:13

How are you doing?

Mike Worley 01:14

Yeah, very well. Thank you. Yeah, the weather is sunny, and it’s warm. And it’s a beautiful Wednesday.

Phil Street 01:20

Fabulous. Which part of the world are you in?

Mike Worley 01:22

So I’m live just outside of Bristol perfectly. It used to be for the before COVID was great for their commuter links, down the M four and five and into London. And I got here. I moved here by accident and been stuck here for the last 20 plus years

Phil Street 01:39


Mike Worley 01:40

But maybe we’ll have a conversation about that in a little bit.

Phil Street 01:43

Yeah, absolutely. So just give us a very quick snapshot of what you do and what you cover in your current role.

Mike Worley 01:50

Certainly, yeah. So I’m the Operations Director for HIT training limited. We are an independent training provider delivering apprenticeships and commercial and some adult education budget training to the predominant hospitality sector. We also work in the care sector and early year sector. My role is everything learner centric. So I’m overall responsible for about 450 trainers, nationwide, 30 odd managers, and also the quality and the curriculum function within hit. So that involves making sure that the programmes we deliver are robust, and something that adds value to somebody’s life, and also keeps us compliant if we are claiming any government funds. So yeah, I’m pretty much home based with offices all over, like all over England, which is where we cover and have probably one of the best jobs in the in the company because I get to talk to hundreds of hundreds of people every week.

Phil Street 02:52

Right? Yeah, actually, I mean, you don’t really cover off much then in your job.

Mike Worley 02:57

No, I mean, it’s quite quite a quite quiet day really day in the life of it’s, you know, it’s it’s every day is a is a school day, as they say, and never, never the same day twice. So I don’t I don’t have to deal with groundhog which is brilliant.

Phil Street 03:11

Yeah. Great stuff. Okay. So well take us all the way back to the beginning of your, your journey. How did you get end up in hospitality in the first place?

Mike Worley 03:22

It started all at school, really, I was probably I think it was the I think the only male doing food and nutrition and Home Economics at school. And that came back because my mum was a really, really great cook. And Dad was more into engineering and oil and stuff. And I didn’t that didn’t appeal to me at all. I went after school decided I would want to want to be a chef. So I went to catering college for a couple of years. And about six weeks into the course, I realised that working in the kitchen is really hot. And I thought maybe I’ll go into Hotel Management instead. because that meant I could stand and talk to people and not actually have to work so hard.

Phil Street 04:00

That was the “you can’t stand the heat”…

Mike Worley 04:02

It really was you can’t stand the heat and the noise and it was just incredible. And that was just a colleague’s that was when it was, you know, if you’re lucky, you got 30 covers to do for lunch. And there was about 20 of you in the kitchen trying to make bread rolls so quickly realised that probably maybe I should be outside and talking to the customer and being that face of the organisation what my dream so part of the programme was a work experience, six weeks work experience, which I naively thought I just walk in anywhere and somebody will give me a job for six weeks. That didn’t happen. So I’ve actually found a hotel, and it used to be owned using years ago by Graham met the use of the Bernie in restaurants within the hotel. And I basically went to the manager and said, Look, I need a job for six weeks. I’ll work with you for free as long as you show me all different departments. I’ve got to do it for my course. So he said, why not course? Yeah, I mean, put me in the kitchen for a couple of weeks when I said I didn’t want to work in the kitchen, but that is a department. And actually, I really, really enjoyed it because it’s completely different than being in a college environment. And that was a real experience. And then, one day, he gave me a little bow tie and said, come and work in the restaurant. I know you’re not getting paid. So I’ll put you on some shifts in the busy ones on the Friday night and Saturdays and Sundays, Alicia might earn a bit of tips. And I realised why the tips you can earn if you’re nice, and you thought it was ridiculous. I was 17 at the time. Yeah. And my my biggest learning from that was a Saturday night I walked through the door, he gave me a little black waistcoat and said restaurant managers phoned in sick. So you’re going to run the restaurant tonight. And I went, you have an alarm for what you know, I’m 17 years old, and Petra absolutely petrified 150 cover restaurant. And I was you know, stuck like a rabbit in the headlights. I remember a waitress she looked after she was responsible for the waitresses called Gina. And she took me to one side and she just said to me it will be absolutely fine. We’ll make sure that the debt tonight is a brilliant night and blow me half nine I’m stood there at my little lectern, whole restaurants full and there was my that was my my first real inclination of you know, get the right people to do the job and they can make you look good. It was absolutely brilliant. And at the end of the night, she they had a whip round all the waitresses, they knew I didn’t get paid, and gave me some of their tips because they knew that, you know, I wasn’t getting any money. And that set me on my whole journey of the hospitality sector.

Phil Street 06:51

That’s really cool that you I mean, that shows you right when you’ve got the right I suppose team environment that you’re everybody’s got everybody’s back. In the end, if you’ve got if the right people are in the right places, then then sparks fly and good things happen.

Mike Worley 07:07

Absolutely. And I’ve kept that with me all the way through through my journey really in hospitality into the role that I’m in now. That work experience. I got a job there after I finished college. And then I move rained and worked in hotels, up into the Liverpool and up into the world back into the New Forest. I moved into some sort of private privately owned hotels, a lot of weddings and conferences, master of ceremonies, which was great, because you know you got you got the good bit of seeing the bride and groom in and being part of their day, which I absolutely loved. And then the private hotel is working in the gentlemen decide to sell it. And it was a good old 16th century pub and really old fashioned three, four star hotel. And it was bought by a national company that wants to change into a premier in a branded restaurant. And I decided that maybe that wasn’t for me, I didn’t really want to go down that route. So my girlfriend at the time, who’s now my wife, we decided to do ever got a job away from the industry, we would just go and try something different. And I ended up getting a job in 1997 in Bristol as a stock taker for a national company hospitality, right. So I will moved into the realms of helping people with their if they’re selling the pub doing some valuations if they’re doing some, some wet and dry stocktakes and did that for a couple of years. Until then. I fell out of love with it because of a I basically helped somebody keep their job. And I got lambasted for it and realise that maybe training should be what I’d be looking at. Right? Oh, yeah, it was ridiculous. There’s that there’s a pub in Bristol that the owner or the landlord had a really bad problems with stock tanks. He was losing money every week. And I went in there and he broke down and said, I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I can’t I don’t know what to do. So we set up the the normal line checks. And we checked the staff and we I went in there on an evening just to check to make sure the staff weren’t giving stuff away. And he he turned it round in two weeks and got us a small surplus in his stock and that the area manager came to see me while I was on site and said What’s he done? Is he fiddling? I said no. He’s just put some real things in place. We talked about the training and looking at his staff training and development. And the area manager complained to my company to say that the icon overstep the mark, because they wanted this person out and now they can second goodness. So instead of giving him the skills to do the job, they wanted to remove him from the job and put somebody else in there and I don’t agree with that. I think you have to give somebody the opportunity.

Phil Street 09:56

Yeah. Yeah, I mean, fair enough. If he if he was on On the take or the fiddle then, you know, absolutely. But at the end of the day, this is just somebody who was perhaps out of their depth at this particular moment and just needed a leg up, really, to get on top of it.

Mike Worley 10:13

Yeah, really very much so and you know, as far as I know, he’s still in the industry. And I then went into a really, really fortunately went into a training role as an assessor for a company in 2000 called hospitality plus, interestingly enough, the finance director was chilled, who obviously is our MD now for this organisation, right, john was the chairman and he still the chairman of this organisation. So my journey into training started as a trainer going out to pubs in hotels and restaurants and and and supporting people through you know, giving them the opportunity to better themselves and get within and make make hospitality a Korea for them and not just the stock gapping a job that, that people see as a well if you’ve got nothing else to do go and do hospitality for a bit, something better will turn up and you know, there’s nothing better than than this industry. The soft fancy industry is the skills that you learn the life skills and the experiences I just seconds and on.

Phil Street 11:13

Yeah, I completely agree.

Mike Worley 11:15

So after that, I was fortunate enough to get a promotion into the area managers role in Bristol Tacoma, running a bit of the Southwest Bristol and Somerset. And then john and his Mary Mae sold the company to a bigger company. to savour them for a few years until they merged with another one. And then I got a call out of the blue one day to say, look, there’s this new company starting up called hit done, whether you know anything about it, but if you can be in, if you can be at the iPod and power mile on a Tuesday afternoon, you might hear some more about it. So I toggled along to that meeting and blow me there was half of the other company I used to work with sitting in a room. And john and Jill where we’re starting hit training. Right. I started with a, again, looking after Bristol and a very small contract, a lot of sub contracts with some colleges and some various people around the area. And built it built Bristol and then open Gloucester became a regional manager for the Southwest. And then one day, I got a call from Gil to say that I’d like to meet you in a in a pub in the middle of nowhere was one of her friends pubs in in Dorset somewhere. I’d like to talk to you about just about work in general, which I thought was a bit ominous. What What have I done now? And they she just said, Look, we’re looking for a director of hospitality to join the board. And I think you’re right, she’s going to tell me one of my colleagues has got it, obviously. And she said, there’s a couple of people we’re looking at. And we just thought we’d let you know, you’re one of them. And I’m going really, and yeah, I was fortunate enough to be accepted onto the board in 2013, as the director of hospitality, right. And I, you know, that was not on my career’s aspirations at all, in fact, coming back to this whole thing about getting the best people to do the job, and get, you know, trust in them, I think Jill saw stuffing in me that I had no idea that was I was capable of and, you know, it just it comes back full circle all the way back to the time that I had to run a restaurant when somebody saw something in me that I didn’t realise in myself. And that’s what I love about my job now is the potential of people and getting them to into the jobs that they can really succeed and really have a fulfilling career and rolling.

Phil Street 13:40

Yeah, I think that that highlights to me that one, you’re clearly in an organisation that cares about its people. But to you know, you, you weren’t focused on becoming a member of the board, you were just focused on getting your head down and do your job to the best of your ability. And actually, when you do that, it is amazing what happens, assuming you are in the right environment, and that people do acknowledge these things. It’s the same principles as a as a chef going for a Michelin star, the best ones are not actually going for a Michelin star, they’re just get doing what they love to do. And, and then you have the Michelin star comes in, that’s just a wonderful by product of, of the effort they’ve put in.

Mike Worley 14:21

He really is and, and we say that to a lot, you know, sometimes a lot of our trainers and stuff I’ve worked in before, you know, I want to be a manager and they aspire to be and when they get there and they you know, naturally they do really well they get into the management role. And then they realise Actually, I I was I was more fulfilled being the best trainer or the best whatever I could be. And when they get there they they we have we have numbers that go back into the role they’re in previously for that enjoyment and that fulfilment and making that difference and it is you know you need people around you You need an organisation that can spot talent without shadow of a doubt. But and to take people out of their comfort zone a little bit, I think that’s the bit where, you know, you can get people to succeed in roles, if they’re prepared to come out of their comfort zone. And, and take a leap of faith and but all the understanding that that can only work if you’re if there’s a support mechanism in place for them as well. They can’t just be left to go and run a restaurant at 17 years old without the support of Gina, the, the matriarch of the waitressing staff, you know, I think that that probably made that guy could have made or break me on the same note on the same night. So, yeah, I always I do use that a lot. And when I look back in my life, and the journey I’ve taken, the people that have supported are the ones that you sometimes you don’t even realise until after the event that I Well, they supported you.

Phil Street 15:51

Yeah, no, absolutely, I actually have a sort of similar thing from early in my career when I was a bartender, a holiday park. And we had a general manager who was who, who had this sort of distant management style, you never felt that you were fully connected to him, you never felt that he was fully connected to the business. Good things kept happening to me, and I just used to put it down to luck all the time. And then they change general managers. And it wasn’t until there was a very different management style of this chap that came in. And he said, I’ve got this long list of things on you, whereby you’re that this previous guy has seen something in you and wants me to keep pushing you. And I used to always put it down to luck. And he always used to say to me, stop believing it’s luck. You’re You know, you’re responsible for making your own luck. One day, if the luck runs out, and you still believe that it’s luck, then maybe that’s just your, your mentality that you’ll take forward with you that everything happens because of luck. But actually, it I think attitudes just teach you a very long way.

Mike Worley 17:01

I agree. I think, you know, one thing the hospitality business taught me from a very, very early age is that it doesn’t matter what level you are, it doesn’t matter what job you do, what customers where they come from, if you can communicate effectively, strike up a conversation in an honest way, as well. And, you know, show some empathy, that nothing is nothing is not achievable. And I didn’t realise that until I was a little bit older, that when you look back at, you know, we used to deal with, you know, big corporate companies that come in for events, and there will be, you know, the Vice Principal of this and you and you would have all the way through to, you know, we’d have a bill tarmac company at a Christmas event that, you know, all the roadwork is at the end. And you know, you treat them exactly the same as you would anybody else. But I suppose, you know, that that’s a that’s something we can all learn from it. It doesn’t matter what you do. It’s just how you treat people with respect. And if you get back then so much more than you put in.

Phil Street 18:02

Yeah, absolutely. And then I think going back to your earlier point, as well, about identifying what makes you tick, I think you’re getting the balance between stretching yourself and being in an environment that allows you to do that, and gives you the support to do that. But also then, knowing when you’ve reached your, your, the, the end of the comfort zone, if you like or that the role that really makes you want to get out of bed in the morning, do it. Not everybody can shoot to be the CEO of the business. Yeah. And I always remember Hari money from lucknam Park was a great exponent of this winner if you ever hear him do or deliver talks. You know, he talks about the fact that he knew that he didn’t want to go beyond being a hotel GM, because that was the rule that he just really loved. Yeah, you didn’t need to have aspirations to go beyond that. Because that’s your that’s the thing that got out of bed in the morning.

Mike Worley 19:00

No, I wholeheartedly agree with that. Yeah, I’m, it’s really, it’s a really interesting one, because I suppose what I do agree with that, because I was really happy doing the role I was doing before we throw in this one. Yeah. But again, having somebody that sees something in you, it’s whether you can trust in that ability, I think is whether you, you know that there’s always that self doubt that you’re going to have when you move into any role or or change job role or organisations, you know, you take that leap, but I suppose, not knowing knowing the environment that I work in now and the supportiveness of the environment, where you can ask a really stupid question, because normally those are the questions that people really want the answer to, and if you can ask the question on behalf of them, they look to you and say, actually, if he can ask that question, anybody else can be involved in it. We have a real culture here of this open door policy and honesty, with our staff, with the good and the bad. So You know, where the good times are good, we tell them why they good. And I great they are. And when the times are bad, we explain why they’re bad. And now we’re going to overcome them and what we need them from them to support us with that. And and I think, you know, all the way through all my roles except one, we, I’ve had that environment. And I suppose you know, you learn, you become it becomes natural to you to be like that. And it’s interesting when some people don’t like to hear. Sometimes, you know, that honesty, that and yet they do respect it when they thought about it afterwards. So, you know, and it’s just the way you communicate it across. It’s the way you are with people.

Phil Street 20:37

Yeah, totally. I think tough love goes a long way. Actually. I think it’s good. It probably doesn’t feel like it initially. But it’s good to hear things that other people believe that you’re not doing well. Because you know, it, I suppose it’s the sort of believe your own press thing. If you’ve had a period of doing things well, and then all of a sudden, somebody is having a go at you for something. If it’s delivered in the right way. It’s for all the right reasons, And helps you become better.

Mike Worley 21:06

It’s the whole constructive criticism. It’s the back in the industry, taking the plate of food back into the chef, and trying to tell the chef, the feedback in a constructive way. Why? Why the why, why the customer said, I don’t like this dish very much. And for the chef to sit there and go, and not to get the hump and check something that you but to understand. And you’re doing it from a point of positive constructive feedback. But that that’s always a challenge as well, with with some of the chef’s I’ve met we definitely

Phil Street 21:41

Yeah, absolutely. Well, I was going to ask you about your length of service, but I think you’ve probably kind of covered it, because you’ve been with the organisation for for quite some time. Yeah, thing is, yeah. And I was gonna ask you, what do you put it down to, but I think you’ve probably covered it in that you’ve got an environment of mutual respect, that does stretch people, but stretches them in the right way.

Mike Worley 22:08

Absolutely. I also think it’s the, the diversity of the, of the organisation and of the, of the, what we deliver. So no, every we support thousands of learners every year, and every single one of them is unique. And therefore their journey or their story or their starting point, is individualised to them. Yeah. And you can, you can take a 16 year old, and you see resemblance of yourself, you know, I want to be the best chef ever. And three months in, they’re going it’s hot in this kitchen, the chef shakes a lot. I didn’t realise plates get with that warm, and you support them. And then they grow. And they they move from a commie chef to maybe a chef to party. And, you know, I’ve got a story that when I started as a trainer with it back in 2000, I had a a guy at work behind the bar doing a level three supervision qualification. He was an absolute nightmare. He is always late. He, he did the bare minimum. He was a real cheeky if he could get away with it, he would eventually past long time after he should have done. And he was one of the ones go Well, that’s it. He’s done. He won’t be the industry much longer. About five years after that, for some reason. He said my number and he just phoned me up and said, What are you doing? I said, I am managing the team in Bristol. He said great. I’ve got I’m looking after three pumps. Now I’ve got four staff that went through the apprenticeship programme. Wow, hold on a minute. And he said yeah, now I wholeheartedly said I was a nightmare. A real pain in the backside. He said, But without actually realising it. Without doing this, I couldn’t have got to where I am now. And you know, so I want to give something back to the the same people that I am the ones that are can’t be bothered or have a laissez faire attitude because they could be the next people that run another pub or another hotel or another restaurant. And it was a transformation in the five years from when he finished his programme to where his role is now. So first of all, is that that’s why we that’s why I do what I do see in that whole journey of somebody and realising potential, even though even a lot of potential is.

Phil Street 24:25

Yeah, yeah. And that’s the thing, right? I mean, we ask a lot of people that quite a young age, and in this industry and you know, maturity doesn’t come to everybody at the same rate. You know, you need a series of events to, to, I suppose, come to the party. And you know, if you are a cheeky little monkey at the beginning of your career, we’ve probably all been there and done that just at different ages. I was definitely not a great employee in my late teenage years. But you know, one day you wake up and go What are you doing?

Mike Worley 25:00


Phil Street 25:00

Where are you going? And that comes to everybody at different times.

Mike Worley 25:04

Yeah, I agree. And it’s when I got my first assistant managers role in a hotel, I was 19, or 20. And the challenges that faces from people that have been there a long time with more experience, and the what do you do? Do you think you are trying to tell us what to do type of thing. And that’s when you realise that you know that you can, you can have a relationship with somebody to a point. And now I lived in a hotel, as part of it for about seven or eight years in a hotel, in a hotel, in a sapphires in the hotel grains. And I always remember one night, going back to the hotel, staff house. And there was five or six of us that lived in at the time having an absolute brilliant night, as you know, you certainly learned some life skills worth living in a hotel, and going to work the following day feeling slightly worse for wear, but one of the porters not showing up who lived in and we happen to, you know, given him a dress down and, and he said, Hold on a minute, last night, we were having a drink together, and Ilan and give me a ride roller kin. And I said, but you gotta, you’ve got to weigh up the difference between last night I’m not on duty. And we were having a great fun, but today the business is important. And you’ve got to understand that the role that I play, is to make sure that hotel runs smoothly, the guests what they what they get what they want, and you haven’t yet been able to do that today. And I learned them from an age that, you know, differentiating between friendship, and that whole work industry, you can absolutely be polite and kind and respectful. But actually the in some of the roles that you play, you’re not there to be liked. So it’s a it’s a it’s a real eye opener to some people. Definitely Yeah.

Phil Street 26:56

But I think in that situation as well, if if if he can see that he’ll soon learn it, that there is a line. And you know, you’re, you’re there to do a job fundamentally priority number one, yes, you can let your hair down and have a laugh. But if that’s going to affect how you come in to work the next day, then that’s down to you. You need to take a look at yourself in the mirror.

Mike Worley 27:19

Definitely, definitely.

Phil Street 27:21

Yeah. And I’d imagine that your length of service, sorry to come back to this again. But you must have seen some quite incredible evolution of training and how things are delivered in that time.

Mike Worley 27:37

Yeah, definitely. And it’s and also how professionalised it’s become. I’m not saying it wasn’t before, but I think you, you know, were trainers, you know that that whole teacher led mentality, that our staff are industry experts. So we take somebody that’s been have been in the industry to become a trainer for hit. And therefore what they do is they bring that specialism out of that industry knowledge that, you know, they’ve lived and breathed the industry. And what we then do is we look at making them into trainers. So they keep that industry expertise, they need to be on point and understand. So when they go back out into industry, that they still kept themselves up to date with what’s happening. And then we train them to be trainers. So they go through an assessors qualification, and they become assessors, but fundamentally, they’re still experts within the sector. And that that’s, that’s got more and more prevalent as the apprenticeships have changed. And the emphasis now from onto employer led or employer driven standards where employers built the new apprenticeships and fit for purpose for the industry. You know, the old the old days of professional cookery nvqs, where you could become a in brackets qualified chefs that have never touched pastry or fish, you know, the new ones now have changed those and they you know, they cover absolutely every single element of every colour, I think it’s 17 calorie ranges that they have to go through. And our staff have evolved with that because they need all those skills as well. So the professionalism of the industry has definitely increased. Yeah, and I’m really hoping that the, that the apprenticeship brand and the work based learning brand is seen as a real alternative to college and don’t get me wrong. Colleges absolutely have a place and there are specific people that need the structure of a college environment timetabled events, but there’s also the exact opposite of that where people are in industry or do to go into industry need to learn and qualify, but need the flexibility around the role and their lifestyle and the way that they work. For too many years, it’s been a feminist culture. It’s either Oh, if you go to if you’re going to go into an apprenticeship, that’s because you’re practically minded. You know, you Probably wouldn’t make it to college. And that’s that they’re that. That’s what I’m hoping over the last 10 years, as we’ve seen a slight shift. It’s still not there yet. It’s still seen as same as hospitality industry still seen as you didn’t do very well. Why don’t you try working in hospitality? You know, that’s part of our, our role to educate to educate parents now, where we did before COVID, we were doing a lot more around talking to schools and parents about apprenticeships, and not just in hospitality, but in, in general so that they’ve got a different option to people that don’t want to go to sixth floor while staying at school and look for doing other things. Yeah. So yeah, it’s certainly evolved over the last 10 years. I just hope it seemed that way. Because I don’t think it is an all quarters.

Phil Street 30:46

Yeah, I the point you made about educating parents, I think is I’ve been banging that drum since I started this podcast, I think that’s where half the battle is. Because the perception of the industry is that it’s the it’s the fall back into if you can’t do anything else, whereas my experience of that is completely the opposite. There are some amazing people in this industry who have skills, and you are multi skilled that you can’t you just can’t get, I think it comes back to your point you made quite early on in the conversation about the life skills that this industry gives you are, you could argue are far more important than any academic skill.

Mike Worley 31:29

Yeah, I totally agree this, you know, this hospitality sector. And I had this conversation with it funny enough with a parent, probably this time last year when we were doing some careers events. And we had a standout as you usually do. And young chap stopped and he was looking at and he was back, say, What is it? What do you do? And the parent just said, our move along? That’s not really for you. And I said, Well, hold on a minute, I did tell them I said, that’s an interesting thought. Do you know what we do? And I say, Yeah, I can see you do you work in hospitality? I said, Well, we don’t work in hospitality, what we do is we are providing career opportunities within this sector. And I talked to, I basically took eye contact with the young person, not the parent, I talked about the transferable skills taught by, you know, what you can gain from this industry and how they can use them in life later on, and how you can go back to these skills, but completely different roles and how we can move you into different areas, you know, I can cover worldwide and all the other stuff. And, you know, I don’t know ever, whether we ever took an apprenticeship or not. But they’re they’re the things that really, really frustrate me with the parents, they don’t even give them the time of day because they’re they might come from a family where everybody went to university. And that’s, that’s great. But you can do a degree apprenticeship. You can do a degree apprenticeship now, where you are employed, you’re earning and guess what, you don’t come out with 50 grand debt

Phil Street 33:03

Yeah, where’s the appeal in that eh?

Mike Worley 33:06

Oh I know, why would you Why would you want to do that?

Phil Street 33:08


Mike Worley 33:08

And in an employer see that now because they get somebody nearly full time working in their business. So when they when they when they qualify. They’re not just a graduate, they’re a graduate with experience. Yeah. And, and but again, getting that message across to parents school me even even some of the schools I’ve got, I’ve got kids, you know, once that one’s mentor have done his GCSEs this year, and obviously hasn’t. So we’ll get his centre grades. And another one that’s due in a couple of years time. And even the schools all talk about sixth form as that you know, stay on at school. If you’ve got if you don’t think you know what you’re going to do come and do a levels. And trying to get in there and talking about the options for the young people about apprenticeships, about other other opportunities is a real challenge in some of these schools. It really is.

Phil Street 33:58

No I can absolutely see that. I mean from this has gone back 20 years, but are 25 years now Oh my God. When I left school, either, I suppose a natural capability with physics. But I just I despised the subject. I just it wasn’t something that I had absolutely any aspirations to go pursue. But the the careers advice that I got was you have you’ve got to go and pursue physics. And and I think to me, the big point around that is we ask people at too young an age to make a decision that affects the rest of their life. And they’ve got to go and find the thing that that makes them happy. And my experience is is that the diversity of opportunity and hospitality is phenomenal. You know, you can start with nothing and make your way to the top. It’s It’s that simple. I mean it’s not that simple.

Mike Worley 34:52

But it but it is that simple because my my first job in the in the sector was a pot wash for two weeks in the kitchen, working as a pot. What Right. And I was lucky, I use the word lucky. And I saw use Word fortunate. I had a really, really, really good general manager at that point in gave me a job for free. There’s a surprise. Yeah, he saw something in me that I got a part time job there for the rest of my last year, I went to work full time I then he got he got trapped, he got offered a place in the world. He said, Why don’t you come and be my trainee assistant manager, I worked with him for that into assistant manager role moved down to the euphoria. So he gave me the stepping stone. But the skills that you learn that from, from working in these different departments from, you know, from working with this whole customer focused face where you you’re at one minute, you’re at a table, and everything is brilliant, and they are, you know, leaving you a really lovely cash tip in those days, which, which was great. So the next table next door to and we’ve had exactly the same meal kicking off, and how you deal with that those skills you can take into life, which whatever you go into, wherever ever your sector and, you know, it is the life skills that I learned, I honestly, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t be where I am today without that sector because it gives you the confidence to to actually see an opportunity and say, You know what, I’ll give it a go. Yeah. And you know, and I’m just you know, it’s if my children said to me, that I don’t know what I’m going to do somebody who get a job part time in a bar. Okay, off, you got some, Julia? Actually, I

Phil Street 36:33

think it’s why that example you gave of the two tables having the same meal, the learning from that is probably completely, I don’t know, is the word unconscious or subconscious, where you don’t even realise you’re learning?

Mike Worley 36:46


Phil Street 36:46

But actually, I think the skill of being able to deal with people in any environment, I just think is the greatest skill on Earth.

Mike Worley 36:56

Yeah, I agree that that whole communication piece, the way that you can communicate with somebody, both positively and negatively. And, and, you know, you have learned such an amazing skill from a very early age, that I actually made sure that my kids when they were kids could talk, we spoke, we have adult conversations, we put them in environments that would make them communicate, because, you know, if you’ve got no qualifications whatsoever, you communicate, you can get somewhere, and somebody you know, you can get yourself into something. And that that’s, that’s for me, was the biggest, biggest learning curve for me. And I said to Paul, you know, dealing with people from the highest level of organisation to the starting block of the industry, gave you those skills that that are second to none.

Phil Street 37:47

Yeah, absolutely. What do you think you need to be a successful trainer?

Mike Worley 37:53

You need to have the industry skill. First of all, there will there are some organisations, organisations out there that have generic trainers, and then that might work for them for us, you need to know the industry, you need to love the industry that you’re going to train in. Because it’s all about giving yourself back into that sector and that individual. So you’ve got to be able to adapt to the way that you work. So we work with 30 to 40 individuals, as a trainer, I always use the hospitality sector and say, you know, how you manage that think about how you’re building a rotor in the pub, or the restaurant or hotel you worked in. So I went, when can people work? So if they’re all industry, they’re all working in the industry. So if Mary as a Friday off, then don’t go and see Mary on a Friday, let her have a day off. Because it’s important that she gets her rest. So build it around, it’s your manager, you’re the manager, and then they’re your staff, how do you get the best out of them? How do you take every individual and see them as an individual and change your working style learning style to suit what they need to give them the best opportunity to develop? Yeah, and the other one is around, you know, making sure that we celebrate success. And that success isn’t just about completing an apprenticeship or a qualification. It’s about celebrating some of the little things. And that could be just for, you know, even if it’s just a well done and a confirmation of, you know, what, what a fantastic service that was tonight, because they’re the bits that people remember. And the qualifications. Great. And if you’re observing somebody do something great, tell them, don’t just tell them the bit so they can develop and improve on give them that that positive feedback as well in a way that they can. They still take it on board but can learn from it. And we’re really good at saying that’s not good enough. But actually do we say enough of that is good enough. In fact, that was fantastic.

Phil Street 39:51

Yeah, I completely agree

Mike Worley 39:53

On that our staff is is all around those skill sets of innovation. realism and praise and support and development. And, and then and then hands on training if they if you’re going into a kitchen and head chef says, I’m really really busy. Can you show john eight affiliate a fish show him how to fish because you know, you get so much respect from the hotel or the pub or the restaurant by able to have those skills, because head chef believes what you’re teaching is appropriate. And therefore you get a better buy in from the from the employer, and you hope to see somebody progress within that sector within that job role. And also, you know, I’m fine people leaving our organisation, if they’re going to better themselves, I’ll absolutely, if we, if we develop them and nurture them, and they got to a point when they need something else and it’s bettering for them, then, you know, if long they don’t leave me in the mess, I’m more than happy to shake their hand. You go ahead, because it’s important that you get out of your working life what you want, what you want out of it.

Phil Street 41:01

Yeah, I completely agree with that as well. I think the there’s an awful lot of leadership positions that that try to, if somebody if it’s somebody, it’s time to fly, then let them fly. That’s, that’s basically, you know, maybe they’ll come back to you at some point, and they’ll be a better human being for it. Maybe they’ve just got to go and try something else something different. And it’s, they end up finding out that that wasn’t the thing for them. Yeah. But you know, if you’re holding people back then it’s, it’s just it’s a negative thing to start with, because there’s a round of resentment that will come from that. And that’s, that’s the beginning of the end. And we do we have, we have trainers, managers that leave us and, you know, they the ones that don’t burn the bridges, they, you know, we might get a call from them in six months, eight months and say, I think I might have made a mistake. Yep. And, you know, if we can, and we’ve got a role, absolutely. Welcome back. Because unless I left them in, in difficult difficult circumstances, obviously. But yeah, where we can, why would we not because we’ve invested heavily in our staff, and actually, you know, we are we are we are, we have, we don’t have an organisation without our trainers, we haven’t, we don’t have an organisation because without them, nobody progresses not the industry suffers. And, and although we do have struggle, sometimes with the industries, if we somebody applies to us to become a trainer, the sector and the sector loses may be a really good person I look at that is that that’s a really good person, if they can go and train 40 people, then they’re giving back to the industry more than they could have put in just as a single person. So yeah, yeah, it’s just it’s just how it’s, yeah, it’s how it is. I can imagine that having energy, good energy is pretty important. But I guess that probably comes maybe naturally, as part of showing the passion for the industry. You don’t want people delivering training programmes that are not enthusiastic about their subject matter.

Mike Worley 42:57

Absolutely. It’s got to you’ve got to be an engaging personality. Yeah, people, it’s a bit like, it’s almost like a salesman, you know, there’s certain salesmen that you wouldn’t buy anything off. And other ones, you know, you could buy the tie their way and as they walk through the door, and it’s a bank, and it’s about how they how you present and I suppose, ooze that confidence in your ability, we’ve got some amazing people, it always makes me chuckle when somebody comes direct from industry. And we talk in acronyms, we have so many acronyms, even I can’t member half of them. And we do within six months, they that they do a presentation to myself, and either the head of crypto or head of quality, and it’s only a 10 minute presentation. And they talk about being a new trainer. And when you listen to them, because they still got that fresh industry experience and that enthusiasm. It’s a breath of fresh air. It’s It’s humbling how, what what they give back and what effort and energy they put into their own development to make sure that people out there in the sector get what they need as well. And I suppose you know, they’re the days where I do quite happily put my feet up on the desk and go, do you know what we’re doing? All right. Yeah. Because we if we can make that difference for everybody that we that we support, then we’re doing all right, and however hard it gets and however many changes there are. And that’s one of the things I would have said what do our trainers need to be? They need to be able to adapt and change because we have to follow we follow the changes that either government make or the awarding organisations make on a daily, weekly monthly basis and what we deliver today we might not deliver tomorrow.

Phil Street 44:34


Mike Worley 44:34

But yeah, the core the core still is we deliver what the industry want us to deliver

Phil Street 44:40


Mike Worley 44:41

And therefore you need that industry expertise as well.

Phil Street 44:44

Yeah, absolutely. That makes complete sense. You mentioned acronyms there is is hit an Acronym?

Mike Worley 44:51

Yes so it’s hospitality industry training.

Phil Street 44:53

Ah, there we are,

Mike Worley 44:54

Or, or when I went and did a I to do a little Radio Edit on GCSE week, two years ago, and I got lined up with all the different radio stations. And I got I was fortunate to go onto Bangladeshi radio, right, and was told, don’t worry if I if they go into a language I don’t understand they’ll always come back into English eventually. And they also had introduced me as the Operations Director for high intensity training. Yeah,

Phil Street 45:25

I was gonna ask you about that if you ever got

Mike Worley 45:27


Phil Street 45:28

yeah, because I in actual fact, I think when initially when I sent you an email, I bounced back because I automatically put in two I’s. Because, I’m stupid

Mike Worley 45:39

Trust me, I’m not into high intensity training.

Phil Street 45:42

Yeah, there’s a time and a place for that, that’s for sure. Totally. Great. Okay, well, look, I thank you for showing up there’s a lot of that’s probably not our usual format, but no less interesting because there’s a lot of really interesting stuff in there about what you guys are doing and kind of your ethos and and I think it’s massively important to just continually keep improving the the reputation of this industry as a place to come work. And it sounds to me like you guys are playing a massive part in that.

Mike Worley 46:13

Thank you, I think he’s even more than it’s not just a job, it’s a career we want people in this industry for a long time. You don’t want them we want them to see this as an actor to act to aspire to be in this in this industry. And and to see it as a that they can make a career from the stepping stones and the career path they’ve got and where it can lead and you know, we’ve got some great ambassadors that have been in the hospitality sector night for numbers of years, you know, similar stories that they started rock bottom, and they built and then they moved on to their own business and they’ve got you know, and they are still supporting this fantastic industry and that’s that’s what we we aspire to have as well that’s what we want from people that you know, qualify in apprenticeships or other qualifications and we deliver is that they see this not just as a stopgap but as a as a way of life and that they can that that longevity they can happen in the sector.

Phil Street 47:08

Yeah, absolutely. So from your your career so far. Have you got any examples of any funny stories that you could share with us? Any that you can tell you?

Mike Worley 47:18

I’ll get I’ll give you one funny story from the first hotel I ever worked in from a it for me In fact, it still makes me chuckle now. So we were I was working in the in the kitchen and my first two weeks of my first job ever. And we as a Kp kitchen Porter. That was practical joker was allowed ees. Yeah, unbelievable. Anyway, so we have a hog roast in the grains. They bought the whole hog in, they prepared the guy that was setting all that prepared it he took the head off and the trotters and unbeknown to us the pot wash had gone out to see him and said Do you mind if I have the head and the trotters what I didn’t realise what he was going to do with them. He, in the beginning the kitchens, we have the big bins with the pedals on the floor, so you’d have to touch him. Yeah. And he strategically placed the box in this brand new bin, and he got the head, and the four trotters just underneath the lid looking up and when, when there hasn’t been prepared, there was one eye open and the tongue sticking out. And he did it just at the time as housekeeping bought all of the rubbish down from the from the bedrooms, and you know, maybe some breakfast in bed type stuff. And this poor housekeeper, press the button on the floor to throw the rubbish in and looking at with a pig’s head with his eye open. She threw the whole thing and was out there trying to explain in her language to everybody else, that there was something alive in the bin. He then quickly took it all out, put it away, just carried on working. They came in open the lid, nothing in there. It was just the funniest thing ever. I still remember that. Like it was yesterday. And that was called 30 odd years ago plus 40 years ago, maybe? Yeah, so yeah, amazing. But yeah, so yeah, that was that was a but that was the industry then you could get late. Very nice.

Phil Street 49:13

Yeah. Yeah, well, yeah. But I think equally, the little moments of fun are as important as you’re getting your head down and cracking on right. It’s actually otherwise, you know, what’s, what’s the point? I don’t mean that. That’s quite a deep saying, but

Mike Worley 49:30

Ah you’ve got to enjoy it, whatever you do, whatever job you do, there’s always going to be days that are really challenging and really difficult. But the day that they weigh out the days or the hours that you don’t enjoy it, it maybe it’s time for a change. Yeah, the enjoyment is, you know, we work we all work too long and too hard for them for most of our lives. And if you can’t enjoy it when you’re doing it, then I always say go find someone else you do. Enjoy.

Phil Street 49:56

Yeah, you probably don’t need a team full of jokers like that. But to have one or two is definitely good for balance. Yeah, God.

Mike Worley 50:04

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.

Phil Street 50:06

Yeah. Equally if you had a situation where you you felt monumentally out your depths or been terrified by what’s in front of you, other than pig’s heads?

Mike Worley 50:16

Yeah, the only the only I’m thinking about this, the only thing that was really terrified me was the I got fortunate to become a director in 2013, about two months before our annual staff conference, and the annual set of conferences, we bring everybody into a hotel somewhere that’s big enough to hold us. And we have a whole day of professional events and development. And then we have a gala dinner in the evening. And I remember, like it was yesterday, were terrified that I had a 15 minute slot on stage in front of 500 people to talk about the role of that I’ve been put into and how that’s going to support and increase the business over the next year. And I just remember having my slides prepared. And my notes as I walked up to the lectern, and putting it down and looking up and seeing 500 faces, that I know that that when they videoed it. And looking back on it, I looked like I was 17. Again, standing at my lectern, in that in that restaurant for the first time when my first table came through the door and I to go and sit them down. Right. And that was absolutely terrifying. And now I really enjoy I now absolutely enjoy. It’s so great to see people and to hopefully instil some belief and confidence for the year ahead. But that that was terrifying.

Phil Street 51:38

But well, I mean, that, that kind of demonstrates as well, that you’re, you’re practising what you preach, because that was a moment of stretch for you. And you know, you’re you’re never, never too old or too young to be stretched. And, and no, as you say, you know, that’s part of your comfort zone, where I wasn’t beforehand. And I think that’s probably public speaking is probably up there. For a lot of people as being an area of stretch.

Mike Worley 52:04

It’s really interesting, because after I’ve done it, and I saw the video back, and I’d spoken to Jill, who said, No, she was a bit worried I was I was I gone from grey to white within the first five minutes, she was wondering whether I’ve actually completely completed standing up or not. She she did say something to me, which is really true. She said on your notes, the only person that knows what’s on your notes as you. Yep. And therefore if you if you skip a bit, who’s going to know? Yeah, and if you get your words the wrong way around who’s going to know and it makes a massive difference. Because, you know, as long as you’ve long as you believe in what you’re talking about, and you absolutely wholeheartedly know that it’s the right thing to say, then doesn’t matter what how you, you know, I love is that energy and enthusiasm and what you’re talking about. Nobody knows that you’ve missed the paragraph. Yeah. And it’s a it’s something that, you know, I have definitely learned to enjoy. And Gil is very good at putting me on the spot to say I’ve just, I’ve just put you forward to go and present a provider meeting in front of 70 providers who don’t like us anyway, because we’re probably as good as them if not better. And you’re gonna tell them how we were how are we working? Thanks, Jill

Phil Street 53:16

(Laughs) Really appreciate that

Mike Worley 53:19


Phil Street 53:20

Yeah, Victim of your own success?

Mike Worley 53:23

I think so.

Phil Street 53:24

Yeah. Great stuff. Well, there’s, there’s a couple of more points that are completely not relevant to anything that we’ve just discussed. But I wanted to just talk talk to you about them briefly. And that’s a setup of if ever you’ve heard one, isn’t it? And from your your Twitter, I couldn’t help but notice that you’re a part time football coach.

Mike Worley 53:44

I am Yep. So um, I I’ve been doing it since. So my son plays football has done since it. Since he was play for teens. He was seven. And then under it by Andre Leavens. The coach said, add enough. I don’t know why. But I sell I foolishly said, Well, I’ll help paid part time. And then we’ve been helping I know run football team from under elevens. He’s now into under 17th. And he also plays a bit for the first and reserves a local team. Right. So yeah, so help run. We’ve got the same back 12 but core 14 lads since they were about eight. which is which is an amazing feat, because seeing them grow from boys now they’re 17 years old and attitude through the 14th and 15th to almost coming out the other side a little bit now. It’s a it’s a real removal from the job that I do. And it gets me out and I thoroughly enjoy it.

Phil Street 54:41

Yeah. Have you managed to drill in the counter press as of yet?

Mike Worley 54:45

Oh, of course. Not. We haven’t we have a very fluid front three. Yeah. They don’t never know when the front three is going to be the bat three, but it’s very fluid. Yeah, we like using the words about counter attack press. And they look at you and go to we just Get the ball just to go get the ball. We try. It’s actually we had some really good success last year. And our aim this year is to go with the league this year, right? Now that neither neither grassroots football is back on the, on the map, we’ve we’ve got permission to go out there and train again, properly. So I’m really really looking forward to next season.

Phil Street 55:20

Great stuff. Yeah. And the other thing that I picked up was that you can make a brioche in an hour.

Mike Worley 55:26

So I absolutely can’t make a brioche in an hour. It’s a it’s a standing joke. I was speaking in front of 70, Chef trainers, with our chef Academy. And these things about believing in what you say, and energy. My chef principal had said, you know, give them some some stuff, you know, and some scenario base. And I happened to I don’t even know where it came from. But it came out to say, I said, you know, it’s just like making brioche in an hour. And 70 chef’s just looked at me and when What are you talking about, even to the point when every time now that I we do we do a company zoom at the moment, every Friday? If I start speaking, one of them will put it in the chat to everybody. next season. Let me tell us he can make brioche in an hour. So I’ve kept that mantle and I have tried to make it now it’s impossible.

Phil Street 56:18

It is impossible. I was gonna ask you what’s the secret, but

Mike Worley 56:22

I left it, in there just as a as a conversation piece.

Phil Street 56:26

Yeah. Well, it works. Here we are thinking about it. No, that’s brilliant. Great stuff. Okay. So if, if somebody is listening to this, and they’re considering a career in hospitality, what would you say to them?

Mike Worley 56:40

Absolutely. grasp it, enjoy it, and get everything out of it that you can’t because it is a fantastic industry. Always ask for help. Never be afraid to ask for help. If you don’t have to do something, ask somebody because there are certain things that you do need to get right. But be yourself because this industry needs personalities. And the personality piece is what the customer will remember. And get you to places and other opportunities in your life that you may never even realise that are there for you.

Phil Street 57:12

Yeah, that’s, that’s great. And absolutely true. Brilliant. And if people want to reach out to you to pick your brains on on anything, or learn a bit more about your company, what’s the best method for them to do that?

Mike Worley 57:27

Yeah, well, I’m on LinkedIn, so they can find me on LinkedIn if they want to. I’m also we’ve got an 800 number, which is for the company wise, which they can they can leave some numbers there. So 0800 0935892. That gets forwarded on to me as well. So yeah, any any any either of those means

Phil Street 57:45

Wonderful. Great stuff. Well, look, thank you very much for spending some time and sharing your story today. It’s been a real pleasure to have a chat.

Mike Worley 57:54

I appreciate it. And thank you for letting me waffle.

Phil Street 57:57

No, no, I think actually, it’s usually me that’s the waffler and I think actually everything that came out your mouth was absolutely on point. So I thank you very much.

Mike Worley 58:07

You’re more than welcome. Anytime.

Phil Street 58:09

Good, man. All right. Take care.

Mike Worley 58:10

Okay. Okay, by now

Phil Street 58:12

And there we have it. What a cracking chat that was and it’s clear that Mike believes wholeheartedly in what he and his team are doing. Also demonstrating that good things come when you stretch yourself. Don’t forget, we launched a brand new episode each week. So hit that subscribe button and give us a like and share where you can. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.