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Date: 04/09/2014

Boss swaps top job with intern for the day

One minute 21-year-old  Lucy Weaver was a junior intern at Farncombe Estate near Broadway, the next she was promoted to CEO, overseeing almost 200 employees at Farncombe Conference Centre and Dormy House Hotel.

Lucy’s meteoric career rise was short-lived however.  Andrew Grahame, 53-year-old Farncombe CEO, had agreed to swap jobs for just 24 hours, giving himself – and Lucy – a fresh perspective on the business, from top to bottom.

“It was good to spend some time with the team: I learnt a lot and I really enjoyed it,” said Andrew after an exhausting day which included bouncing around on a space hopper. Lucy meanwhile concluded that she’d had a great experience, “but I think it would be too stressful to be CEO!”

Lucy Weaver, a degree student in Business, Advertising and PR at Worcester University, has been on a sandwich placement at Farncombe since May 2013.  As marketing assistant, she usually spends her time updating company websites, organising photo shoots and sending marketing emails.  For one day only, she had her very own Personal Assistant – 26-year-old Rebecca Longbottom – and toured the Estate to meet all the teams and create her personal  five-year-plan for the business.

“I went into a Dormy revenue meeting and heard all about their monthly targets and how they balance average room rate with occupancy,” says Lucy.  “I also saw the Barnyard, where the Farncombe Estates team make furniture and fittings from scratch.  It’s amazing to see the work that goes on behind the scenes.”

Lucy’s plans for Farncombe include making more of the 400-acre estate with new activities for leisure visitors; introducing spa day incentives for staff and painting the conference centre reception bright pink.  All her ideas will be given careful consideration.

For Andrew Grahame, who joined Farncombe as CEO in September 2012, his day in Lucy’s shoes gave him an invaluable insight into the workings of the sales and marketing office.  He began his day organising a photo shoot with space hoppers – and falling off a few times – before researching sponsorship for the 2015 Farncombe Courses brochure and sending out the first 100 emails to a database of 4,000 corporate contacts.

“The focus in the office impressed me,” said Andrew.  “There was a lot of problem solving going on – dealing with people who change their requirements for instance.  You don’t appreciate the mechanics of it until you spend time with the team.  We had a laugh and a joke and I think I earned my keep!”

Andrew, whose career has taken him through the ranks of hotel management, including Broadway’s Lygon Arms and Goodwood Estates, has never worked in a noisy open plan office before.  “I found it difficult to concentrate,” he admitted.  “I could never work in a busy office like that!  It’s been fun, but I’m glad to be back at my own desk.”