Shaping the Future of Hospitality Design

Empowering Innovation Through Generational Wisdom - Andrey Teleguz's Journey of Mentorship and Growth

Mentorship is Key in Future-Proofing the Hospitality Consulting Industry

With many company leaders closing in on retirement, the hospitality consulting industry seems firmly in the “graying industry” niche with aging executives and a younger workforce with diminishing interest in starting in – and staying in – the field.

As seen in many workforce sectors, mentorship is a crucial element that helps to bridge a widening gap between seasoned industry veterans and young workers.

Why is mentorship so valuable in future-proofing an industry that is finding it more and more challenging to attract and retain young talent? Mentorship programs are proven to boost employee retention, which is an important metric for any business. A recent survey indicates that millennials and Gen Y employees who intend to stay in their roles for more than five years are 68 percent more likely to have a mentor.

Perhaps the strongest attraction of mentorship in an industry is based on generational norms that younger employees boast. Millennials and Gen Y employees aspire for success, but they don’t necessarily want to adhere to the employee culture norms of previous generations. They want managers who inspire, not taskmasters who solely focus on deliverables.

In creative-based industries like food service and hospitality consulting, the desire for mentors to teach creative approaches and problem-solving initiatives is even stronger than in other corporate cultures. But finding the right people to serve as mentors is getting increasingly difficult.

In the last few months, SCOPOS Hospitality Group has experienced a fortunate turn-of-events that has ultimately created a strong mentoring culture for younger employees. SCOPOS principal Andrey Teleguz shares his mentorship story and his excitement for how his young employees are being shaped for more successful futures. 

It Boils Down to One Simple Question

Andrey’s mentorship path was certainly not an intentional journey. The economic downfall that happened after the events of Sept. 11, 2001, led to Andrey’s job loss at a struggling cabinet-making company. In a position to expand his skillset after this surprising turn of events, he pursued an associate's degree in computerized drafting and design. A drafting externship as part of that program landed him in his first food service industry-related role.

It didn’t take much time for Andrey to be promoted into an entry-level designer role. Setting up shop in that new department, he shared a desk area with Rick Reardon, a seasoned designer well-versed in “old school” type methodology.

Andrey and Rick started working together on many projects, brainstorming at the peninsula that divided their workstations.
“I was the young blood with all of the technology and new education,” Andrey remembers. “I was doing all the 3D fancy stuff, while Rick was doing more of the traditional design.”

But the difference in their approach caused no rifts; in fact, it did the complete opposite.
“Rick and I, despite being very different, really hit it off and worked very well together,” says Andrey. “I was always eager just to keep picking his brain and keep learning.”

Andrey recalls a pivotal question that he came to expect from Rick as they discussed projects: “what if you tried it this way?”
“It was never said in a way that made me think what I did was wrong,” Andrey recalls. “But it was always said with the purpose of getting me to broaden my approach and consider creative ways to deal with the issue. Rick always challenged me to think about things a different way. I can’t tell you how constructive that kind of mentorship was for me as a young guy in this industry.”

A few years later, Andrey made the leap to start his own business and founded SCOPOS Hospitality Group in 2009. As he’s built the company over the last 12 years, he’s formed a team budding with young talent and creative approaches. But in training the staff, he’s often considered the value of an older, seasoned mentor sharing time-tested wisdom with those starting out.

“I’ve always kept my eyes open for a semi-retired architect or someone in that type of role who I could bring in and have them serve in a mentor role with the SCOPOS team. As we continue to grow, that’s always been in the back of my mind.” Andrey said. “But it’s tough to find someone to fit that type of need… and even harder to find a qualified person who wants to do it.”

Then, a few months ago, the phone rang.

“Andrey, it’s Rick. I’m retired now, but I’m way too bored to sit at home and do nothing. You have anything for me?”
Andrey could hardly say “yes!” fast enough. 

History Repeating Itself

Since early summer, Rick happily spends his mornings in the SCOPOS office, offering the same sage wisdom to Andrey’s team as he did to Andrey nearly 20 years ago.

“I am determined to use all of Rick’s strengths to help my team learn and grow. Things like master planning, blocking out, and developing that technical design piece,” Andrey states. “We’re not forcing him to use or learn the new technology. We want Rick’s intellect, his know-how, his knowledge of ‘why,’ and his valuable questioning that helps us always to be looking at things differently.”

It’s not difficult to see the positive effect that Rick is having. “I just watch from the side, and I smile as it’s exactly what I want to see. I see Rick looking over someone’s shoulder as they ask him questions, or one of my employees takes their drawing to his desk. They talk of all the possibilities… Rick draws them out by hand, and our drafters and designers use the tech they’re trained in. They compare approaches, ask each other questions, and great new ideas coming from those interactions,” Andrey continues. “I know first-hand the valuable insight being given – it’s ‘thinking training’. I love it! It’s exactly what I want for my team: to benefit from mentoring the same way that I have.”

Rick is delighted with the opportunity to keep working and share his expertise. “I’ve worked in this field a long time, and I’m just glad to keep going. Andrey has always been great to work with – it’s really special to be a part of all that he’s doing.”

This type of mentoring model is one that Andrey hopes can be replicated in other food service and hospitality consulting industry sectors. “I have to say I’m a little concerned for the future of our industry, for there are not enough young people interested in this type of work.” He sees a mentoring model as a crucial component in attracting interest from students and establishing the type of grounding they need to truly develop a passion for excellence in their work. 

The Opportunity to Create Themselves

Famed film director Steven Spielberg has written of mentoring: “The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.”

Rick Reardon and Andrey Teleguz’s relationship has certainly borne that type of balance… all based on that fundamental question: what if you tried it this way?

In attempting to answer that question in scenario after scenario, Andrey, with his team, are consistently allowing time-tested methods to fuel innovative approaches.

“Mentoring like this helps to stretch your mind. It helps you to think differently. I know that mentorship helped to prepare me for all kinds of opportunities; this has been my dream for my team to have that same type of benefit to stretch them in anticipation of new things.”