When the side hustle got interesting…
I’m black, gay, tattooed with bright pink hair – I wasn’t expecting a well known brand like Premier Inn to accept me for me, but that’s exactly what happened right from the very beginning of my time here.
I had a full time job in Sales. Sadly, with the last couple of years being what they were, I barely met any of my team in real life and, while I was speaking to customers on the phone, I was missing that human connection.
My partner is the Kitchen Team Leader at Premier Inn and when hospitality opened up again they needed people in the kitchen. There was a 15-hour contract going as a Kitchen Team Member that fitted in around my job so I went for that with the intention of doing both. I walked out after my first shift, with a 40 hour contract and quit my Sales job – I loved it!
I’d worked in a kitchen before, so yes, the role was familiar to me. But it was the people that really made the difference. The team, the environment – everything just worked for me and gave me the people-focussed role I realised I’d been missing.
Everyone was so cool about my look, it just wasn’t an issue. I wasn’t asked to cover up, or change my appearance in any way. Straight from the get go, the business was welcoming.
I trained as a barber, so I’ve always been an expressive person. I know it sounds cheesy but the team here were lovely to me from the start and I soon learnt their stories and they learnt mine. We’re all so different here, but it works.
I began in the kitchen, but I got out into other roles pretty quickly. I enjoyed it but I felt I had more to give and I was keen to see how far this could take me. I’m a people person and you meet so many different people in the hotel! Obviously with our hotel being right by the country's most famous stadium, we get football fans to businessmen and all inbetween.
When I moved out of the kitchen, I was serving guests breakfast and drinks, and raising a few eyebrows. Children would start off scared of me and I think older guests must have thought 'who is this?'. But you know what? They’re my favourite guests. I go out there with a big smile and by the end, we’re all best friends and I’ve shown them that you should never judge a book by its cover!
A friendly face goes a long way – as I found when I served my Regional Operations Manager one morning. I was on the floor, doing my thing and complimented a lady on her shoes. Next moment the lady with the nice shoes is talking to me about where my career could go with Whitbread!
She told me about the path to becoming Duty Manager and here I am, 6 months after walking in for the first time looking for a side hustle. Training for the qualification on the job. It’s a Level 4 Apprenticeship and it’s going great.
I’d say to anyone thinking of hitting that apply button – if you have good customer service and a work ethic, you could make it in any role here. If you’ve worked with people – you don’t have to be from a hospitality background – this is the place for you, for me, for everybody."
Angel, Duty Manager, Premier Inn