George Mercer

What is your back ground?

I started in the hospitality industry when I was 17 and still at school. I worked at Sopwell House Hotel and was part of the Conference and Banqueting department. I gained valuable experience of working in a busy and renowned four star hotel where I got a good understanding of how a hotel operates. I became a supervisor in the C&B department where I was involved in the day-to-day operations of running and managing conferences, functions, weddings, parties and all other types of events. During this time I gained a Level 2 NVQ in Customer Service.

From there I became an Assistant Manager of a branded and extremely busy pub/restaurant where I learnt many aspects of running a business. The pub turned over nearly £1 million a year and was a real learning curve for me as it taught me how hard and rewarding the hospitality industry is.

I then went on to work in a hotel in Les Deux Alps, France for six months where I worked surrounded by snow. This was one of the best work experiences I have had. It was incredibly fun, but very hard work. I worked in all departments of the hotel and vowed to go back when I could.

After that experience I decided it was time to get back to education and decided to go to university. Before that I completed an Access Course at Oaklands College. This was valuable in helping with the rigours of academic life. I gained a place at Manchester Metropolitan University studying Hospitality Management with Culinary Arts. I studied this over four years during which I also worked in many restaurants and kitchens around the North West. I also managed another season in France where my wife and I managed a 20 person Chalet. We were commended on numerous occasions by the company, but were worked off our feet.

I gained a First Class Honours Degree from university and then decided to do a PGCE in Food and Textiles. I worked in secondary schools for two years teaching Food Technology before I realised I missed using the hospitality subject knowledge I had. I gained my assessor qualification and gained a part-time position at Preston College for six months before coming back to live in St Albans again.

Before starting at Oaklands College I had been a Lecturer and Assessor at a training provider in Brixton at Myrrh Education. Due to many funding issues this provider lost many of its provisions to teach and I managed to secure a place at Oaklands where I hope to make a good impact and success of the new department facilities.

What has been one of the highlights of your career?

As an Arsenal fan I enjoyed working at Sopwell House Hotel because at the time many of the team were staying there and I got to serve and talk to them, including people like Dennis Bergkamp.

Tell us something interesting about yourself

I have a twin brother. So be careful not get us confused if you see him in St Albans!

What do you like best about working at Oaklands College?

It is a small and friendly department set in lovely grounds.

Finally what has been your best meal?

Mosaic Restaurant in Bali, with my wife on our honeymoon. Lots of courses and lots of different wines in a magical setting.