A Friday Chat with Searcys’ Operations Manager, Ana Mendes11 June 2021
This week’s FRIDAY CHAT is with Ana Mendes. Ana has been with Searcys for six years, and is about to embark on a very exciting project with our newest opening – The View at Lincoln’s Inn Fields in the heart of The City. As the official catering and hospitality partner for the Royal College of Surgeons, Searcys’ team are hard at work preparing for a brand new events venue within a truly historic building. After leaving the London Concours as Operations Manager, Ana is overseeing the launch as our Operations Manager at The View, while also helping out across the business, like at this week’s London Concours, where this picture has been taken.
Hi Ana! Tell us about yourself and how you started working in hospitality?
I have been working in the industry for almost 10 years. After finishing my degree in tourism and hospitality management I joined Hilton Prague where I had my first experience in events. After that I moved to London and joined Sofitel London Heathrow. That’s when I was first introduced to banqueting, and I got hooked! Ever since then it has been a journey upwards.
When did you join Searcys?
I joined Searcys in 2015, and started working at 30 Euston Square as a Conference and Banqueting Manager. I have grown both within my role and within the company over the years, and I have now joined RCS as an Operations Manager.
What do you like most about your job?
I love the fact that my days can always be so different depending on the type of events or clients I have – it never gets monotonous. Furthermore, having the chance to work with all types of cultural backgrounds is truly a blessing in our industry, and that certainly makes my days so much more interesting.
Tell us your three things few people don’t know about the venue you work at?
I’m sure people aren’t aware of many things as The View hasn’t opened yet but I can say it’s an historical building and yet it’s brand new! The Royal College of Surgeons of England was founded by the Royal Charter in 1800, and their 30,000 members have this venue as their international base. We’re now opening the space to the general public for conferences, meetings and events. We have a great team working over there and we can’t wait to start hosting events.
What is your favourite type of event and why?
I love big conferences, there is always so much going on at the same time. Between breakouts, main plenary (a session of a conference which all members of all parties are to attend) and various other type of activities going on. As an Operations Manager it’s certainly a very exciting sort of event to run as it challenges you constantly. You have to be always on the go and prepared for the unexpected.
What has been your most unusual customer request?
Oh… there have been a few over the years! But if I had to give an example, I’d tell you about the time a client had their goods stuck at the airport customs for a big international event they were hosting in Prague. So they asked my manager for someone to go and try to get them. At the time I was a trainee and very eager to learn. So I spent a whole day in Prague’s airport customs trying to clear these items. Somehow, I managed to get it done at the end of the day and the client was ever so thankful. Their reaction made it all worth it.
What are you working on at the moment as you prepare to launch The View?
Right now I’m focusing on getting The View ready to open. So, we are working on getting all the operational and back of house procedures underway. We really intend to open with a bang, so no detail is being spared. The flagship building is right in the heart of London and we’ve got stunning rooftop views and state of the art facilities, so I think it’s going to be incredible.
However, this week I have spent at the beautiful gardens of The Honourable Artillery Company in the City, as part of the operations team for London Concours. It’s an extravagant car-lover’s paradise, with 80 of the most precious cars in the world. Searcys run all the catering and events, and it’s a highlight of the summer season. It’s been amazing to kick off the events season with such a high-profile event.
What is your ambition for the venue and your predictions for the future?
Well, it’s a blank slate at the moment, but I’m betting conferences will be the most popular sort of event! In terms of the future, people are still very keen on getting the best service possible – that never changes. I think COVID-19 might have put things on hold for a while, but everyone just wants to get back out there, just like the way it was pre-pandemic!