Monta Ferneste (29), started her career in hospitality with a part time team member role in a pub, while she was completing her degree in Health and Social Care.

But, during her second year, her funding was cut and Monta was forced to drop out of her degree studies to take on a full-time role. Three years later she is now on a successful new career track and is Assistant Manager, at Café Rouge, O2 Academy, London, running one of the group’s busiest restaurants.

Casual Dining Group (CDG), is one of the largest independent restaurant companies in the UK and employs almost 8000 people nationwide. It operates some of the most recognisable restaurant brands in the eating-out market, such as Bella Italia, Café Rouge and Las Iguanas and serves more than 20 million meals each year.

Over the past three years Monta has developed her skills in a number of roles starting as a team member at the Café Rouge Greenwich restaurant, then moving up to Supervisor and Team Leader with a stop at the Café Rouge Cutty Sark restaurant before joining the team at the O2.

Now looking to take the next step up, Monta is preparing for a General Manager’s position and undertaking a Hospitality Manager Level 4 apprenticeship. This is part of CDG’s award winning internal development strategy and maps into its Leadership Academy Plus programme which provides opportunities for team members to realise their full potential in the hospitality industry

Having found her new career Monta is making the most of CDG’s commitment to its employees.

“I took the opportunity because I need to develop and if a company is offering you a training opportunity like this then people should take it.”

“In hospitality, you might be tempted to go to another company for more money an hour, but I think to really develop your skills, you need to stay with a company, experience the highs and lows, and if an opportunity comes like this take it with two hands”, she says.

Despite her change in career, Monta identifies a lot of similarity between the Health and Social Care and Hospitality sectors as both are largely about people, a factor she relishes, which explains her ‘little happiness’ approach to customer service.

“I love working with people. I think to create a big thing, you must create lots of little things. To give someone a good meal, even on a bad day, you need to add little bits of happiness.”

She adds, “My Health and Social Care degree included a study of the cultural differences between people and London is extremely culturally diverse. It helps because it means you know how to approach each person.”

Now established within the sector and the CDG business, Monta has her career goals and ambitions firmly established and is using her apprenticeship to help her get there.

“I am an assistant manager, but I do want to be a general manager. I could apply now but I know I am not ready. I still have so much to improve, so that’s what I am looking for. I want to be more confident. I would like to be the boss, but I am not ready, yet.”

Her positive experience of apprenticeships, in such a short space of time, has convinced her to encourage her team members to consider this route to their own career development.

“I see my role is to motivate the team and develop them if they want it. Which is why I am encouraging all the team to apply for an apprenticeship. I want them to go for it, believe in themselves, and believe that they can go higher.

“I want to show my team that hospitality has so much to offer. It is a rewarding career and also challenging and I want to attract and keep good people so, each day, I try my best to show them how enjoyable it can be.”