Pauline Craig, operations manager at Hamilton Park Racecourse
Joined Sodexo: 1996
Lives in: Glasgow
Q. What was your first job?
A. I’m a seamstress by trade, and had a great early career working for companies including Nike, Adidas and Umbro, from the age of 16 to 26. I loved doing it and got to travel a lot. Nike sent me to Holland as an assessor to train their team to make football shirts.
Q. Tell us a bit about Hamilton Park.
A. It’s unusual in that we are about 40 miles from Edinburgh and very close to M74 so it’s really accessible but the surroundings are absolutely beautiful. It’s an amazing setting for a racecourse.
Q. What services does Sodexo provide?
A. Full catering and hospitality. We have a main racing grandstand, marquees and Dukes restaurant for private dining, plus function rooms and 13 private boxes. We cater for public and private diners on race days and offer full conference and banqueting packages, including weddings.
Q. Interesting…what do they eat?
A. Private dining customers have a three-course meal with wine and champagne reception, but we also have a café which offers all snacks.
Q. Give us an insight into a typical day.
A. I look after the conference and banqueting side, making sure all restaurants, marquees and bars are ready for every event – be that a race day, corporate lunch or wedding.
Q. What’s enjoyable about it?
A. I especially love to see wedding couples and guests here really enjoying their day. Many come back for anniversaries, which is perfect proof that we’ve done a good job.
Q. And the challenges?
A. Every event takes a lot of preparation and I often wake up in the middle of the night fretting about something I may have forgotten.
Q. How’s 2015 shaping up?
A. Another busy one! We have 40 weddings booked at the moment, and 18 race days, plus fun days and corporate events coming in all the time. Our unit chef Stephen Morrow is brilliant, as are all our chefs. The food is wonderful.
Q. What skills do you need for the role?
A. To be well organised in planning my staff and looking ahead to the racing and conference and banqueting calendar. It also helps to be a smiley, happy-go-lucky person, able to take a bad comment and bounce back.
Q. What’s your favourite event in the calendar?
A. Got to be Ladies Day as our grounds are filled with ladies in lovely outfits. Maybe one day I might be lucky enough to be on the other side of the counter.
Q. What would be your perfect day off?
A. Relax during the day then a nice glass of wine in the evening. And I like to go away for a city or sunny break when the calendar allows.
Q. Name your fantasy celebrity dinner guest.
A. Billy Connelly – he’s just a superb character.
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