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University catering is diverse and full of opportunity, says Matthew White

9th May 2024 - 07:00
Matthew White, chair of PSC Alliance
Chair of the Public Sector Catering Alliance, Matthew White says that when he started working as a chef in a university setting he fell in love with the variety of work, the diversity of the workforce and the people he worked with.

He had been carving out a career with the very corporate Whitbread, a pubs, restaurants and hotels business, when he felt he needed a change of scene.

It started as maternity cover at the University of Reading and he has just recently stepped down 34 years later as Director of Student Experience & Education.

In an interview that is part of Public Sector Catering’s ‘My Career Story’ series he remembers the mentors who helped him develop his career.

And he talks about the astonishing opportunities his different roles have provided, including becoming chair of Then University Caterers Organisation (TUCO).

“One of the things I helped establish was the TUCO Study Tour and I sometimes get teased now that these have allowed me to visit every continent.”

He says that organisations such as TUCO and the broader Public Sector Alliance ‘have opened doors for me’, and that meeting and talking to others helps so much because ‘the people are where a lot of learning happens’.

He feels, though, that this positive side of the industry does not get talked about enough.

“One of my real frustrations is that all the big hospitality organisations, and even our dear government, always look towards hotels and fine dining as the hospitality industry.

“But there’s so much more and the public sector is probably the biggest part, so if you start a career in it you’ve got huge opportunities.”

Watch the full interview below.

Written by
David Foad