GETTING TO KNOW: Charles Sargeant, MD, Whittlebury Park

Charles Sargeant

Highlight of your career so far? Reuniting our family estate to become one business, as was always intended. This was an incredibly proud moment for the whole team involved and had been a long, tough journey.

If you could choose three guests, dead or alive, to dinner, who would you choose? Given that we are currently operating at reduced capacities I have reduced the guest list by a third. I believe David Attenborough and James Hunt would make an interesting evening.

Last hotel you stayed at? The last hotel that I stayed at was Gisborough Hall which was a welcome – COVID secure – escape from current pressures.

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Best piece of advice you ever received? As a hotelier? Don’t ever watch The Shining …

Biggest service bugbear? Waiting for the bill …

If you went on Stars in their Eyes, who would you portray? Phil Collins – I might even get my drumsticks out.

Which other company (inside or outside the industry) do you most admire and why? JCB. A great family business with global scale that remains true to its core beliefs and passions, whilst continuing to innovate and diversify – never standing still.

What’s the first thing you do when you get to work in the morning? I am quite often still at work in the morning … but I usually start my day by taking a tour around the estate with my Labrador, reviewing emails that have come in overnight and making sure that each team is set up for the day.

Your first job? Digger driver, aged 10(!), building the foundations of the business that I now run. I was also set to work at an early age as pot washer, cutlery polisher, barman, MC, emptier of bins, bathroom cleaner …

If you weren’t a hotelier what would you be doing? I spent several years working for ICI plc, travelling the world to develop and industrialise disruptive new 3D digital imaging technology. So, I’d be working with designers and engineers and physicists to turn raw ideas into progressive commercial concepts. Alternatively, I am told I could have a strong career as a double for Michael McIntyre.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time? With the current state of the nation – and the devastating impact it’s having on our industry – who can say? But I would like to think that we will be well on the road to getting Whittlebury Park back to pre-coronavirus levels having secured the business for the future.

Your dream job? I love my job – but would really love to find a way to take everything we have learnt in terms of combining a family business with entrepreneurial spirit and building corporate scale and infrastructure to help other family businesses navigate their way through what can be unique challenges!

Something you wish you knew before joining the industry: That is simply never stops … even in lockdown.

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