This month we spoke with Jody Bennett, People Director of Brewhouse & Kitchen about her journey through Hospitality. She shares her advice and tips for those first starting out and promotes the great work life balance offered by Brewhouse & Kitchen.
Tell us about your first job in hospitality?
After 22 years in Retail, I joined Hospitality in early 2019 as Group Head of People for a Brewing and Pub Company. I knew joining Hospitality was the right decision for the next stage in my career, due to the close synergies it has with Retail in that it’s fast-paced, customer fronted, multisite management, 365 days a year, and a sociable place to be. Plus the great food and drink helps too!
Has there been anyone who’s stood out as being a major influence on your career?
I’ve always been fortunate to work with strong, reputable leaders who have coached me and supported me, so it’s difficult to pick just one! I will always look back fondly on my first store manager when I was 18 years old. He was a credible man with bags of experience and gravitas, who saw potential in me and promoted me to a manager, with little leadership experience. My confidence and assertiveness to go after what I want and be the best I can be comes from his belief in me.
What skills do you think you need to be successful in hospitality?
I do not think you need particular skills; I believe you just need to have the will and desire to learn. Technical and behavioural skills can be taught, so having the passion to do a great job and constantly working towards improving your knowledge and capability, can lead to great success. A good level of aptitude is needed to be colleague and guest focused, because irrespective of whether you’re dealing with colleagues or guests, you need to have a level of empathy and an ability to be able to pre-empt people’s needs.
What’s the biggest change you’ve noticed in people’s expectations of working within hospitality?
I think people’s expectations have changed and the priorities are now about businesses supporting their teams mental, financial, and physical wellbeing, as well as providing more opportunities to support their learning and development. I think pay, rewards and benefits are important and will always be a big motivator, however the balance between work and home life is vitally important now, along with offering a blended learning approach that fits around the individual. At Brewhouse & Kitchen we provide more wellbeing support and learning online, so the team have information at their fingertips and can also take ownership of their own development.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone working in hospitality who wants to be successful?
Put people within your team first. You could have the most amazing food offer, or brew the best beer, but if you do not work closely with and look after the team around you to deliver a fulfilling colleague experience journey then everything else is immaterial. Whether you want to progress your career or continue doing the job you do really well, do what matters most to the people around you and your teams achievements in delivering a great guest experience will help you to be successful.
What are you most excited about for the year ahead?
The educational opportunities Hospitality has to offer. From Apprenticeships to the upcoming T-Levels, there’s so many ways to now earn whilst you learn and gain qualifications alongside experience, without racking up lots of university debt. At Brewhouse & Kitchen we now have Natalija Folmer, (BII NITA Apprentice of the Year 2022) leading all apprenticeship programmes and managing relationships with local schools and colleges, to actively promote our career pathways. We focus on educating school leaders and parents on what our industry has to offer, as they’re critical with helping influence students on their career choices and Hospitality should be considered amongst the best.
What’s your worst vs best experience working in hospitality?
The worst experience was during the pandemic because it was such an uncertain time for our teams, and challenging for the businesses when opening pubs, closing pubs, furloughing, de-furloughing and flexi-furloughing teams across different islands with different legislations and payroll funding schemes! During those times it was paramount that our leadership stayed strong, and we stepped up to create ways to support our teams through it.
The best experience was this year when Brewhouse & Kitchen received national accreditation from Best Companies. Having our own team rate, us as a good place to work is so rewarding and confirmation that they too recognise hospitality as a great industry to work in.