Life as a Regional Operations Manager
Meet Laura Hinson Yates
Holidays are always the best days. They’ve been an important of my life since I was a child, where the absolute highlight of any summer would be our family camping trips.
Now, as a mum of two, I live for that precious family time together and the chance to get away and enjoy each others’ company. That commitment is a non-negotiable, which is why I’ve always found working at Whitbread, well, works for me!
There’s an understanding here that I have a life outside of work and showing empathy on those occasions where I might need to leave early, or not be able to stay away from home, due to family commitments means a lot. Also, more recently, the ability to buy back an extra week’s annual leave has really helped support me spending more time with my children in the school holidays.
I love the flexibilty that my role as a Regional Operations Manager provides me with, which lets me schedule my workload around my family's life. I am very organized, if the truth be known I even send calendar invites to my husband to our children’s parties! Everything gets proactively planned in – including time to expect the unexpected – this ruthless focus on being organised helps me keep the ships at home and work calm and steady.
My typical week involves being immersed with my Managers and their sites and teams either on visits, business reviews or in face-to-face group meetings within my region, or working on wider divisional projects with my divisional team either in person or remotely.
I’ve been fortunate to build my career quickly and I’m now a ROM with 23 hotels, 350 people, responsible for £25million revenue. I am known for darting back from my sites in time for school pick up to then take the kids to their relevant clubs (karate, dance, football and gymnastics at the moment!). I can then invest time with my children, and then pick my work back up later in the evening – or swap my days off from weekend to midweek when I want to make that school play or football match.
Technology is also a real enabler to making this happen too. Office 365 is magic, it’s accessible from anywhere and on the go and helps me to multitask like a pro.
It's the culture and the people are what makes Whitbread special, it’s no secret. But I think it’s the flexibility which really sets us apart. If you are used to a 24-hour operation and the unique challenges this can bring, you can really make the ROM role work for you and get a lot of satisfaction from making a difference to our teams and guests. After all, we go home every day knowing we have made somebody else’s day - what other job can you get that satisfaction in?
Something that doesn’t always get shouted about is the support I also receive for extra curricular activities, which adds to my CV and keeps me stretched and learning. I lecture in France annually and also act as non exec director and vice chair for the Symphony Learning Trust academy – without an understanding line manager who knows how to get the best out of me and a fabulous employer this would just not be possible.
Looking at my career, I think it’s clear that the seeds of how powerful great hospitality can be were sown on those holidays. Lasting memories were made by being on the receiving end of superb service and care.
I've tried to take that forward and my efforts have always been recognised. My proudest career moments to date are winning awards for developing my team, and more recently at the Whitbread national conference by our CEO, with my regional leadership team getting recognition for making a difference with our unique Force for Good strategy and activities. But by far my most proudest moments in my life are when I see the light glimmer in my children’s eyes because I am right there, right behind them encouraging every dream, cheering them on and shedding many a tear along the way.
My role now is to inspire the next generation of leaders and support the personal development of my teams. A huge part of this includes motivating them to go the extra mile for our customers and create those priceless magic moments we’re famous for. After all, I’m proof of the impression it can have.