Jo, 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.
“On 12th October 2011 I started at Premier Inn. I’ll always remember that date really clearly as it’s the moment things changed for me.
“Up until then, my working life had been pretty forgettable. As a mum-of-five my kids were my life. My husband was the main provider in our house and I took on a series of jobs that fitted with our children’s lives but offered me very little and, having left school with no qualifications, I didn’t hope for much.
“As they got older and more independent, I started to get this nagging feeling that there had to be more to life than the work I was doing. I was walking home from an interview at a supermarket where I’d just been offered a position. It was a different name above the shop, but it was the same job I'd done before.
“My walk home took me via Stockport South Premier Inn. I’d never applied to work at a hotel because I felt that with no experience and no qualifications – I had nothing to offer that they’d be interested in. But, with the supermarket job as a parachute, this wave of confidence came over me from somewhere and I thought I had nothing to lose by asking the question. So I walked right up to reception and asked – ‘What do you need to work here?’.
“It turns out I needed something I’d always had – my personality. I was interviewed on the spot by the Hotel Manager who just blew me away with his openness to employing me as person. I told him straight up, that I had very limited customer service on my c.v but he said ‘It’s not what you can do – it’s how you do it, and we can show the ‘what’.’
“They saw the person, not what was written down on a piece of paper. I turned the supermarket job down and began as a Receptionist. I didn't look back - three years later I was running the hotel! I ate up every opportunity that came my way and rose up through roles until I made it.
“I’d never had that kind of backing in the past – never had the push that I got from my managers and everyone I came into contact with at Whitbread made me feel I could do it. Yes, I made mistakes in those early days but the message always came through that ‘we’re human’. Some companies would haul you over the coals for the slightest thing but that’s not the culture here. I learnt that we nurture talent, we support it.
“I’d also never had a business offer me so much from the get go; Pension, Sharesave scheme, perks@work, Privilege card, Rewards card, bonus scheme and, of course, a week’s extra pay for achieving All Green! It’s quite the package.
“If I look back, it’s been an incredible few years. I was a middle-aged woman, my family had all grown up but I was going nowhere. I’d worked in places where they wouldn’t know your name – you clocked in, you clocked out. I would suck it up, telling myself that it’d pay for the kids shoes and I was contributing. Really though I was just plodding along, accepting this was my working life until I retired.
"But joining Whitbread has changed everything. My kids are so proud of me, they've seen me grow as a person. I’ve achieved a lot within the business – I've been taken to Dubai and the Disney Institute to develop me even further. Who would have thought this would happen years ago when I was packing butties?
“I stand here today, an experienced Hotel Manager with three sites and I love it even more. The past 18 months have been so difficult for our industry, but I never felt alone. The company really looked after us all; the communication and guidance was very strong, given the circumstances we found ourselves in. Whitbread's actions during this crisis confirmed to me why this is such a great business to work for. I don't want to work anywhere else or for anyone else.
"Now it's my chance to develop and coach the next generation and I can continue my plan to turn the world purple!
“I think the opportunities they offer you here are phenomenal. I’d say to anyone considering hitting that ‘apply’ button – do it! You owe it to yourself. I’ve just had the best time and it’s impacted everyone around me – my family are so glad I took that chance and walked into Premier Inn that afternoon.”