“Checking out what Premier Inn offered was the best decision I made.”
Scott Norris – Delivery Manager
“I always say this to people, they never believe me, but I spent two years as a wedding planner! Not just weddings, I’d organise big events for 300 people or more – parties, golf days and the like.
It probably wasn’t the most orthodox way into becoming a Delivery Manager in the Tech team but it was my way and Whitbread certainly helped make that happen.
The word ‘IT’ or ‘Tech’ can put people off from ever exploring different jobs. But there’s talent for this industry everywhere. Transferable skills are real things and, at this place, I’ve found you can open up to more than you may have thought possible.
I had a varied career in hospitality before I joined. It started straight after school, I wanted to be a Chef and I was on the path to that profession. I then moved to front of house roles for 18 years before I was doing the day-to-day management at David Lloyd in Milton Keynes. Whitbread had owned it, but it was in new hands and it was one of the flagship health clubs for the business. It was high profile and because of that it was a place where lots of trials were held.
I got involved in those trials, I found it fascinating. I’d used tills, I’d used PEDs, all the tech out in the hotels and restaurants, and had taken an interest in them.
Really though I’d reached a bit of a crossroads in my career. I was working with the Tech team at the Support Centre there to make better devices for the team, making it easier for customers. I felt I’d proven that I could add value but there was no room for development at that time in that particular business.
I felt I was ready to take that next step and get into an IT role. I wanted to play my part in improving things for hundreds, if not thousands, of people. To have that bigger impact. Maybe I didn’t have the right background for them, who knows?
At Whitbread I walked into a business willing to take what I had and train me up.
It was 2014 and they were recruiting for a Small Change Test Analyst and I knew someone in the team. I’d heard they were looking for someone with a bit more of an operational background. Someone who could possibly give a different view, more of a customer view, on the situation.
It was my first proper job in IT - I wasn’t qualified but the business supported me. They paid for me to do my exams. I was maybe in the right place at the time – the team needed that know how of how the business worked outside of the digital world.
But in the nine years I’ve had here, I’ve found that the longer you’re at Whitbread the more valued you are. Your experience is leaned upon more and more. You make a name for yourself.
In April 2016, I moved location to Whitbread's recently opened digital office site in Holborn. I went on to become a Business Analyst, too. It was another step forward; BAs need to be able to speak to senior stakeholders – as the BA you’re the middle man. You have to talk with confidence and calmness.
I saw the value in it for me to go for it and gain that confidence. I can now direct meetings. It’s always about stepping up to the next phase of my career.
Now I rotate around the apps and websites we create and maintain here at Whitbread. I’m working on Business Booker, I was known as Mr PI.com – working on all sorts; Google and Apple Pay are next.
As a Delivery Manager you go into a team and lead as a Scrum Master. You need to be on the ball for everything; timelines, running the team, working on agile and waterfall projects across different digital platforms.
It’s exciting times. When people ask me why I’m here, it’s easy. When I joined we had 600 Premier Inn hotels – now we’re nearer 900 in the UK. We’re always growing. Now there’s Germany, I want to make us number 1 over there and then who knows, elsewhere in Europe? It wouldn’t surprise me.
The culture we have over in the Holborn office is unique and we’re proud of that. I’m part of the planning committee over there, before you ask yes, I do plan the Christmas parties – I guess some things don’t change!