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Sun 1 Apr 2007 06:00 PM

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Food for thought

Organising flights for bands, finding an extra hundred chairs and making sure buffet dishes are properly labelled is all in a day's work for food and beverage secretary Maureen Pamanano at Mövenpick Bur Dubai Hotel.

While some secretaries are stuck behind a computer screen all day, Mövenpick Bur Dubai food and beverage (F&B) secretary Maureen Pamanano is happy to say her work gets her out of the office.

A normal day for Pamanano starts at 8.30am and finishes at 6.30pm, but as with most jobs in the industry, this often depends on what functions the hotel has on during the day.

"The first thing we do, of course, is make sure we look great," she said.

"The hotel industry is like show business - you have to be presentable enough. It is a glamorous industry to be in, but you have to make an effort to make sure you look good."

Pamanano's first task is to ensure her boss, the F&B manager, has all the information he needs for the morning briefing, including the previous day's figures and the daily forecast listing VIPs staying at the hotel or any planned special events.

"The most important information is the revenue that we have generated the previous day and measuring whether or not we have achieved the budget," she said.

"This is the sort of thing he will want to share with the other managers. There are times that I have to be there and take notes during the meeting, for example, when the meetings are covering things that are more from a food and beverage perspective. If there are special events like food festivals, or Christmas, then I have to be there."

After the meeting Pamanano checks her emails for any requests from the hotel's F&B outlets.

"I usually get requests from the outlets that I have to deal with," Pamanano said.

"For example, for lunch at certain outlets I have to prepare the menu, buffet tags, and the reservation sheets. Usually the people who are not here for the whole day, like the pub managers, come to work and go to our office to find out what they need to know."

At 10.30 each morning the F&B team holds a briefing with the outlet managers, chefs, executive chefs and the F&B manager.

"We discuss everything under the sun. We get something out of everybody there and I take notes on everything - if there is something to be followed up I will do it," Pamanano said.

"If there are complaints from the guests, we need to contact them and get more information and see if we can improve. We call the guests and send them an apology letter so we know where to improve and we can keep the guests happy."

After the morning meeting Pamanano drafts e-mails to the various departments and people that need following up, and ensures that decisions made in the morning briefing are followed through.

"What I do is like the right hand of the boss. Of course the boss won't be able to do all these things himself, so you do the things you can so he can do what he needs to," she said.

"There are certain presentations and reports that the manager has to do, but from our side we do what we can and then let him check it. F&B managers have to be checking on the outlets all the time, they have to be there checking the intricacies of the outlets to see how they are performing. But at least there is someone in the office keeping things up to date."

Pamanano said she constantly had to think one step ahead of the F&B manager to ensure they had what they needed - a situation she described as being similar to "having the same brain".

"The thing I enjoy the most is that I have the best of both worlds," Pamanano explained.

"I am a secretary, but I am not just in the office. If I compare myself to the HR secretary or the GM's secretary or sales secretary, I have knowledge with administration, but then again, if you are in food and beverage you have the chance to know more about the outlets and you get to meet people like suppliers, chefs, and guests."

While admitting that one of the job's perks was sampling food from suppliers and the outlets, Pamanano said often her job was making sure that guests didn't notice any differences between what was promised, and what is delivered.

"If you have advertised something, then they expect it to be there - the problem is ours," she said.

"It's different challenges every single day, so that's where the fun comes from. It's good because you have to have a network with the other F&B secretaries [at other hotels] so you know what they are doing as well. You have to have a good relationship - if you have a problem, like you don't have enough chairs, you have to be able to get in touch and ask to borrow some chairs."

And despite dealing with the frustrations of organising a function for 300 people that turns into 500 people at the last minute, or being unable to find a flight to bring out a band for entertainment, Pamanano said she enjoyed her role.

"I really enjoy it because of the range of things I get to experience every single day," she said.

"Its good because you are not just in the office all day, because you get to know what is happening everywhere. It's fun and exciting.

"It's a big satisfaction at the end of the day when you look back and realise what you have achieved,"

she concluded.

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