Rudi Hygino is Hotel Manager at University Arms, Cambridge.

Rudi revealed how his first experience in a hospitality venue was at his cousin’s café, explaining, “He used to have me assist him making coffees when I was seven years old. Always a curious individual, he understood my interest and included me in his tasks whenever I was around.”

Recalling his first instalment of professional experience, Rudi explained that this came during his summer holidays at the age of 17 when he got a job at a Belgian bar exhibiting its products during an international fair.

“Following this, I had my first luxury hospitality experience at Lapa Palace, where I worked with top-level hospitality professionals. I started as a Commis de Cuisine and progressed to Demi Chef de Partie, Chef de Partie, and eventually Commis Waiter,” Rudi added.

At Lapa Palace, Rudi learned the disciplines of both back-of-house (BOH) and front-of-house (FOH) operations, mentored by one of the most esteemed hospitality professionals in Portugal, Mr. Chainho de Oliveira.

After working there for a year, Rudi joined the armed forces, where he served for roughly 10 years. After his military service, Rudi graduated with honours in Hospitality Management, magnificently finishing first in the country, to which he added, “This achievement naturally opened many doors for me.”

Rudi admitted that his passion for hospitality stems from a love of interacting with people from different walks of life, “It allows me to practice the several languages I speak and meet new people.

“Conveniently, I enjoy eating and drinking, but what truly excites me is the similarity between hospitality and the armed forces. Both fields provide me with intellectual satisfaction through their daily routines and tasks,” he said.

We asked Rudi what he loves most about the role of Hotel Manager. Thinking about how hospitality addresses the most basic of human needs: beverage, food, and accommodation, Rudi said, “As a down-to-earth and active person, I appreciate both the simplicity and complexity of this field. I love that no two days are the same and that we must be inventive, using our emotional intelligence to motivate both guests and teams alike. I value the need for standards and procedures, organisation, and the unexpected situations that compel hospitality professionals to look within themselves to find solutions.”

When probed for what advice he would give someone coming into the hotel sector, hoping to further their career within the industry, Rudi said, “Be true to yourself and to the fundamental values of humanity. Strive to experience every role in a hotel and learn from each person who crosses your path.”

Finishing with a memory which really shaped Rudi’s career, he told us how working at Lapa Palace and learning from a true hospitality professional was a pivotal experience. “Another significant moment was when I became a Departmental Leader for the first time. This role profoundly influenced my perspective, allowing me to see things in a completely different light than before,” said Rudi.

As a great role model within the hotel sector, we look forward to seeing what’s next for Rudi!