Kelly, General Manager, Beefeater Restaurant
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.
“I was a tax officer at HMRC in Liverpool for 18 years. I enjoyed it, well, for long while anyway, but I found that the work wasn’t really making me happy towards the end. A friend of mine felt a similar way and she had branched out; working part time at the Stag & Rainbow Beefeater alongside her job at the tax office.
“She couldn’t speak highly enough of her new out-of-hours activity, so, looking for something new – I joined her, on 2 shifts a week. The way I looked at it was it was a bit of extra pocket money for me, that wouldn’t just to go towards paying off my mortgage. But also there was a social element I was totally up for. So much of my job at the HMRC was spent behind a desk and I missed the human element.
“After less than 2 months I was totally sold on my new job. I loved it. In fact I loved everything about it – it was a stark contrast to what I did during the day and I discovered I had a genuine love for my guests. It was fun coming into work, and I hadn’t had that feeling for years.
“I really felt that when life was rubbish, I could leave my troubles at the door for a shift. You’re on stage when you’re out there, with 40 guests looking at you! They need you to step up and be professional and it helped me, no end, to be in full on hospitality mode.
“My friend had gone all in by now, going full time at The Packet Steamer Beefeater, so I followed her and joined the team there. I was still part time, yet I found myself looking for extra shifts and the evening job became much more to me than the day job.
“While at the Packet Steamer, we underwent a conversion to become an Orange Cow – the updated Beefeater format. I found the whole process fascinating and at the end we had a shiny new restaurant!
“Meanwhile I was finding myself getting quite down at HMRC and my GM picked up on it. He was great, he could see how much I was getting from my part time role and asked ‘what are you doing with your life?’. It was a difficult question that was actually easy to answer; he explained he had a Team Leader role ready for me if I wanted it.
“Of course I did, but it was going to require a sacrifice financially. I moved out of my house and rented it out, and moved into the living accommodation at the pub. I knew this was where I wanted to be and my passion and drive saw me go from Team Leader to running my own restaurant in just 18 months.
“I think my journey was so quick because I had so much passion. I had support all around me and we made the place a real success. In March 2015 we won ‘Whitbread Restaurant of the Year’ and we had such a buzz around us. I was blessed with really great team members and we thought we were the best in the business!
“I was put on Whitbread’s management training course which was good for my personal development and actually bought me to a difficult decision. For my own good I needed to leave my comfort zone and head to a site that needed improving. So, for a while, I went out into the business as a support cover for General Managers on Maternity Leave before an opportunity to take over at the Three Fish Beefeater came about. I was there for 10 months before I was asked to take on the Farmhouse.
“I’ve been here 18 months now. We had a tough first year, there was a bit to change, but now we’re looking at an All Green WIN card which will just be such an achievement for the team.
“For anyone thinking about their career or feeling unhappy with the path they’re currently on I’d say you spend more time at work than you do with your family or partner – so why be unhappy. Go for it, you’ve nothing to lose.
“I traded in my life at HMRC – pension, Monday-Friday hours, for life in hospitality and haven’t looked back. Every day is different, really no two days are the same. You’ll also never know loyalty like the kind of unit you have in a restaurant team. We are a family in all but name – they really have got your back.
“It’s never easy to make that leap, but I’m so glad I did.”
If you feel the same way as Kelly, #ChangeYourStory here