Inspiring Women in Hospitality: An Interview with HJUK Founder, Dawn Bowstead

07 Mar 2023

07 Mar 2023

To celebrate International Women's Day, we interviewed our founder Dawn, to discuss starting a business, her message to young women and the inspirational woman she'd like to have dinner with.

How did you get to where you are now?

Through hard work, sleepless night, long hours and not ever giving up. I am also a risk taker and 100% believe that what I do is positive and has a purpose, not just for me but for the people and clients I work with. I am incredibly proud of how far I have come on my own since 2007 and now in the last 6 years with 3 incredible men in my life, supporting me, inspiring me and believing in me, my partner Antony, my business partner Nick and my Non-Executive Director Ian.
When did you decide you wanted to run your own business and why?

We have to go back to 2007, I had just got divorced and was a single mum with 2 girls aged 7 & 12. I had a Head of Recruitment position within a FTSE 100 company and wanted the flexibility of taking my girls to school, going to school plays and when I was with them just being a Mum! And back in 2007 the flexibility and hybrid working model just wasn’t in place. So, I decided I wanted to run my own business. I approached my Group HR Director at the time, Ben Bengougam, and with his support and advice set up my own business and have never looked back.
What is your style of leadership?

I would say my leadership style is to lead by example, and I wouldn’t ask my team to do anything I wouldn’t be happy doing myself. It's also important to give your team the tools to succeed. I always try to encourage my team to take ownership of what they do but have the reassurance I will be there to support, coach, guide and provide direction. I would also like to think everything I do with my team has a purpose and I always communicate clearly what the objective is and the end result we are all aiming for.
What is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?

That’s a hard question, my message would be no matter how tough it is, do not doubt yourself and remain strong. When attending meetings, do your due diligence, get the numbers and facts right (and re check again) and remember you can make mistakes but learn from them. I would also add, everyone is the same no matter what their background or gender is, we just all choose to take different career journeys, so remember to always treat people the way you would like to be treated.
If you could have dinner with one inspirational woman, dead or alive, who would they be and why?

Sara Davies from Dragons Den – I think she is inspirational, starting her business from her bedroom at university, and a mum of 2 boys, she comes across as straight talking with no BS, plus I also think she would be bloody good fun to have dinner with.
Tell us about HJUK’s upcoming project to support mothers to seek a job in hospitality.

We are launching an initiative called Flexi C (Flexible Community). This initiative is supporting and targeting mothers who are keen to work but want flexibility in their role. The initiative will empower women with the tools to succeed and raise awareness within the hospitality sector of how valuable the flexible community is to keep their businesses running at key and low times, and ensure their businesses continue to thrive and stay ahead of their competitors.

Connect with Dawn via LinkedIn, here.