This week’s High Flyer is Mike Gatt, general manager at the new Maldron Hotel Belfast City.
What was your first job?
At 16 I started cleaning fruit in the kitchens of what was then the Strangford Arms Hotel in Newtownards. My cousin was a chef there, and when he was cooking with his back to me he’d make me whistle while I worked to be sure I wasn’t eating his strawberries!
What qualifications do you have?
I went to the College of Business Studies – which then sat on the very site of our new Belfast hotel – to do an accounts course. That allowed me to move up through the ranks.
What do you attribute your success to?
I’m a firm believer in self-motivation and good old-fashioned determination.
How would you describe yourself to someone who’d never met you?
Fun but hard-working. I also like to think of myself as a fair and understanding person.
Who do you look up to in business?
There’s a lot of successful people within our organisation and wider industry, but if I had to choose one person I’d pick Warren Buffett – his achievements are incredible.
How do you get the best out of people who work for you?
I think it’s extremely important to invest time in working alongside my staff and developing an understanding of their strengths, as well as their limitations.
If you could change one thing about doing business in Northern Ireland, what would it be?
I’d like our leaders to focus less on political politics, and start thinking more about the importance of economic politics.
What website or app could you not do without?
LinkedIn allows me to reach massive audiences and really drives awareness and recognition of our brand. Something I posted only a couple of days ago already has over 30,000 views!
What was the last book you read?
I recently read a fantastic book called It’s a Long Way from Penny Apples by Irish businessman Bill Cullen: it’s his personal story of how he lifted himself from a childhood of absolute poverty to become one of the world’s richest men.
What car do you drive?
I currently drive a Mercedes Coupe, but I’m ready for a change – a Maserati would be nice!
Tell us something interesting about yourself?
I’ve only been to the cinema five times in my entire life – all great films though: Jaws, Grease, Toy Story, The Iron Lady and Angela’s Ashes.
What’s your greatest passion outside work and family?
Motorcycles. My wife and I did a tour of Europe a few summers ago on a Honda Pan European and I have a classic Harley Davidson at home with less than one hundred miles on it – I just haven’t found the time to get out on it lately!