I grew up in an environment where my father was immersed in his business, and my overriding impression to this day is of him at work - holding business meetings at home and at weekends - or of accompanying him on visits to hotels and restaurants. My father's passion for his work influenced me to such a degree that anything that delayed my going into the business seemed an impediment. My time at Oxford was great fun, as were my three years of accounting, but both delayed the day I could start real work. Holiday jobs had given me an appetite for the business and a good understanding of what the hotel and catering industry was about.
Within Forte my progress was rapid but I was protected by my father from the real rigours of business life. I did not have to make the most serious decisions until my last few years there. I have since put my knowledge and experience to good use in developing my own luxury hotels company, RF Hotels, which I can drive exactly as I please. Now in its fifth year, we already have properties in Brussels, Edinburgh, Rome, Cardiff, St Petersburg, Florence and Manchester. So, if I were to live my life again, I would make sure that, early on, I worked in an organisation where I was on my own and where I had to earn my own spurs. Even so, it taught me the importance of hard work, gave me a passion for my industry and a belief in customer service.