Carol, Deputy Hotel Manager, Premier Inn
Getting back into the working world after a while, or embarking on something new later in life can be daunting. Fear, self doubt and questioning whether it’s even possible is holding people back from starting a new chapter in their life. At Whitbread, we want to turn around the negatives and help you change your story – both the stories you tell yourself about lack of confidence, ability or employability, and your future ambitions too. You’re at the best place to #ChangeYourStory, with the UK’s leading hospitality business.
If you don’t try, you’ll never know.
That’s a saying you often hear, but it’s often true.
I turn 60 this month and from the day I joined Whitbread in 2010 I’ve been given the backing to try new roles, presented with new opportunities and work in an industry I’ve grown to love.
It all started for me as a Kitchen Assistant at the Brewers Fayre in 2010. I’d help the team clean up, wash the dishes… it was hard work but the buzz of the place was addictive.
I spoke to the Head Chef and asked if I could try moving onto Starters and Desserts and continue working my way up.
Then I asked if I could be a Grill Chef. I just couldn’t keep still once I saw how you could navigate the career ladder here. Quite simply if you put the work in, you were rewarded. Of course my itchy feet also took me forward, but I was making real headway in the kitchen.
We had the Premier Inn next-door to the restaurant and I decided I’d quite like the physical work of housekeeping. I really enjoyed it and worked my way up to Head Housekeeper but those itchy feet kicked in again.
Once you're on the ladder, it's made really easy for you to progress and try something different. I quite liked the look of being a Receptionist. So, as you do when you try something new, I learnt the role, asked lots of questions and trained with a view to becoming a Receptionist.
This required some training at other hotels to get experience of a larger site. It also meant much more time on the computer!
Learning the computers were the biggest blocker I’d had up until that point. When you’ve not been bought up with computers it’s frightening. The youngsters here at the hotel, it’s been part of their lives, part of the furniture. It’s second nature. But we remember a time before all that!
However, the support – from my Manager, the team, the online learning we do - was always there. I made it to Reception.
I couldn’t stop there though! From Reception, I liked the look of becoming a Deputy Hotel Manager, but something was holding me back – and this time it wasn’t the computers this time, it was me!
“I’m too old now to be learning this stuff,” I’d tell myself.
But, if you don’t try, you’ll never know. And every step I've taken here, from that first job in the kitchen to now, Whitbread had backed me. So I backed myself.
Always ask for help. It’s not a failing on your part. It’s all part of the learning process, and that's at any age.
I’ve never looked back. I love people, so hospitality’s the natural place for me. We keep it simple and real here - we treat you like you’re coming into our home. You get a warm welcome. And that goes for guests and team mates.
For anyone of a certain age, thinking about applying for a job at Whitbread I’d say never let age stand in your way. I still feel like I’m 16 some days!
So go on - try it, you might like it!