“It doesn’t matter how long your career journey is with us – I know you’ll enjoy it”
Debbie Tozer – Architecture Manager
Whitbread historically was, and remains to this day, a dynamic business.
It’s how we manage to keep ahead and make brands like Premier Inn number 1. It’s great to be a part of such a prosperous business and a consumer product that’s so enjoyable – after all, who doesn’t love staying in hotels and dining out?
It’s a successful and ambitious place to come and grow your career.
I should know – amazingly this year marked my third decade of working at Whitbread! It’s gone by in a blink of an eye but it’s seen me change my career entirely from Finance to Tech, move from brand to brand and become a proud mother of three.
It’s all in keeping with Whitbread of course, because Whitbread embraces change. It’s a constant here. We’re always evolving our core business to stay relevant and in demand. It certainly makes for an exciting place to be.
Change is one of the reasons why I’ve stayed. Out of that change I’ve had interesting work, been given professional development, worked alongside great people and have typically moved roles every two to three years. There’s always been a new frontier to challenge me.
Some may choose to be here for a long time like me; some may do 2-3 years and go on to other things and that’s equally fine. What I think both would agree on though is they’ve enjoyed it here.
There are always reasons to get excited; big projects underway and innovation everywhere. Whitbread has got the digital side AND we’re a bricks and mortar business – so there’s a lot of variety and breadth of Tech to work on.
It feels like yesterday when I joined the Whitbread Beer Company in 1993 as a Chartered Accountant
The culture here was clear from the day I came in for my interview. I sat quietly, waiting for my name to be called and observed a company that just knew itself. Friendly people walked by, talking, smiling, chatting with the receptionists behind the desk - it was much less formal than what I’d experienced as a Chartered Accountant
I joined the Finance department and had three jobs and two promotions in five years. It was fast paced but rewarding work and I soon found myself as Chief Accountant at David Lloyd Leisure. Reporting to the Finance Director, I was exposed to everything from people change to mergers and acquisitions.
From a professional perspective, my career was going well. However, I wanted to start a family, so took maternity leave. When I returned to work I wanted a better home/work/life balance. The business took my new personal circumstances into consideration and I reduced my working days to 4 a week, initially in a project role that was based in the Tech team while we worked out where I might fit longer term.
As the IT function was becoming centralised I then had the opportunity to move into a new role to support financial and project reporting and establishing ways of working for the new combined team. The business was open minded and willing to see my skills could be transferrable so that enabled me to move into a role that merged project governance and finance. I was supported to complete my Prince 2 qualification.
At this time we had hotels, restaurants, leisure centres, Costa Coffee and we owned Marriott hotels – we had a really varied portfolio. But by 2008 we were a more streamlined business and Whitbread had identified its core growth engine – Premier Inn hotels. Further transformation followed and by 2013 it was clear that investing in IT was a key enabler for that growth. A decision was taken to establish an in-house capability and scale in IT that was a step change from what had gone before.
It meant there were lots of new roles in the team – and I stopped playing about. I wanted to pick a side! We were setting up the BA function and I was approached about being a BA by the CIO. I wouldn’t say I was an expert at that stage – I had to Google what the role itself was! However, once I got the job, the business sponsored me to get BA qualification and I became an IT professional.
Two years ago I moved to my current role as the Architecture Practice Manager, focusing on resource management, effective ways of working and governance. It’s a return to some of the things I have done earlier in my career but in a new discipline so that provides plenty of challenge.
I work with very experienced and highly technical people so every day is a school day!