Sue Thompson, Divisional MD, Restaurant Associates

Sue Thompson, Divisional MD, Restaurant Associates

Case Study

Having been with Compass Group UK & Ireland for more than 25 years, Sue has a wealth of experience managing strategic clients and working with top chefs from across the industry.

Her love for hospitality began at an early age working as a waitress in a local hotel, whilst she was at college studying Catering. Sue had always been passionate about cooking, often helping her mum and dad at home, she sometimes even catered for their dinner parties and quickly realised her future lay in hospitality and catering.

Her first break into the industry happened as a young college graduate. She applied for a job she saw advertised in The Caterer for a Restaurant Manager. The ad appeared on the Thursday and Sue was so keen that she spent the whole day organising her letter and CV to send to them. Her application was the only one to arrive on the Friday morning. The business was impressed and despite receiving other applications, they only interviewed Sue and rewarded her promptness with a job managing a restaurant in Kent!

Sue says: “I’m a firm believer in going out there and getting these opportunities and then making the most of them. You have to make your own luck and I think hard work does pay off.”

She later moved to London and started working for a wine bar company. It was here she met renowned Chef, Brian Turner and Sue went onto work for him as a Restaurant Manager.

Making her name and creating a strong reputation in the industry, Sue next went to work with the Roux dynasty. “They weren’t advertising, but I went to meet a recruitment guy and he called his Roux contact. By an amazing fluke, a GM for one of their restaurants and deli cafés had just resigned after 20 years. I knew I wanted this job and quickly met with their HR team and then with Albert Roux himself. He said Brian Turner had recommended me and gave me the job! I was over the moon and this really was the start of where my career has taken me today.”

Sue held a variety of positons in the Roux empire and went onto manage a contract with BAFTA. This led her into the world of contract catering. Roux Fine Dining was then bought by Compass and Sue’s career continued to progress rapidly. Restaurant Associates then took over the Roux brand and Sue has continued to work with the Roux family, as well as develop the Restaurant Associates business.

Sue’s advice for people who want to make it in hospitality: “Know what you want and make it happen! Go to events and meet people in the industry, building up your contact book is the best thing you can do.”
“I’d also say be clear with your colleagues, about who you are and where you want to go. If your boss knows what excites you, they can help nurture that.”

Sue is a strong leader with a real belief in investing in the talent of the future and giving back to the industry. Sue has been involved in judging the Gold Service Scholarship, which recognises talented young front-of-house professionals in hospitality. “It’s a great thing to do and we have seen some fantastic people acknowledged over the years the programme has been running. It feels good to give something back and pass on some of the knowledge I have.”

There is no doubt the Sue loves what she does and it’s clear that she is passionate about delivering great service, but that she has also built a network of trusted colleagues and friends along the way!

Sue Thompson, Divisional MD, Restaurant Associates