Be authentic; know yourself, understand your strengths and weaknesses – and use them, don’t hold them as baggage otherwise they with impede your ability to lead.
Tell us about the moment you decided you wanted to pursue a career within the hospitality industry
I ran out of money in New Zealand and so took a job at a wine bar. The manager there had won Sommelier of the Year two years running, and his passion was infectious. I studied under his guidance and fell in love with the industry. I loved everything about it – service to people whether they be guest or colleague, offering the highest standards, tailoring ourselves to others and ensuring that we are always available for all of those around us- whoever they may be.
Have you always aspired to become a Manager?
It was never really something I thought of and if I am very honest I am not a fan of the word ‘manager’; it’s like the word ‘boss’, it makes it seem like you do something to people. I always wanted to serve people, to offer them the tools to enhance their experience whether it be through wine service, coaching or allowing them the confidence of their abilities. I think I happily fell into leadership – and now my role is to serve those in my care.
Do you feel there were many opportunities available at the time?
I have never experienced any issues with opportunities not being available and I do feel that this can be misinterpreted. For example, I might believe I deserve a role, but would I be ready for it? The key point is to understand that we must be always able to distinguish between the two and focus on the roles that we know we can make a difference in and not be bound by ego.
You have been working in the industry for several years, have you faced any stigma whilst working? (Being a woman in a Managerial position)
I would be lying if I said no, but less as a woman and more as a mother. I did experience issues in a previous role when returning to work after having my daughter, and I do feel that this happens in lots of industries, not just hospitality, but it is our duty to raise the questions and have the difficult conversations about all of the issues whether they be related to working mums, sexuality, gender, ethnicity etc. Only when we start to get comfortable with having difficult conversations will we be able to tackle all of the issues many individuals face in our industry. As leaders, surely this is our responsibility?
You have worked in prestigious venues; tell us about your new role and what it involves?
I am very lucky that I have worked in some wonderful places with amazing people. My new role is as the Director of Restaurants here at The Savoy. It is very much about leadership of people – it will entail lots of action packed days and ensuring that our team are given the best support necessary to do what they do best, which is serving our guests. There is much variety within the role since my remit covers Simpson’s in the Strand, Kaspar’s, the Thames Foyer, In Room Dining, Savoy Tea (our retail store), and Melba, our coffee shop, not to mention being part of the various projects that we will be driving forwards. I have had some fun days cross training with our colleagues already to ensure I understand the role from as many perspectives as possible – they have indeed put me through my paces.
What has been one of the highlights of your career so far?
The re-opening of Simpson’s in the Strand has to be one of the most humbling positions of my career. To be given the privilege to be part of the restoration of a 190-year old icon has really been one of the best experiences of my career. It gave me a whole new view on hospitality and our duty as custodians of the rich history of hospitality in this incredible city.
What is it about the wine industry that interests you the most?
The people, the stories, the history and the piecing together of the natural product and human connection.
Do you feel that taking a gap year helped you gain vital experience?
Yes, I think people learn and grow in different ways, but for me I needed sometime away. I needed to ensure that I was making the right choices and moving forward with the best experiences I could.
What are your future goals and ambitions?
A friend sent me a quote by Yaiya Rosen because he knew I would love it. It speaks of a wish to awaken others to the power that is inside them. That how loving oneself and knowing one’s inner worth could indeed change the world (if we all did it). It really resonated with me (it is on my Instagram page for reference). This is something I would love to instil in all those around me moving forwards.
My main goal however is to be a great example to my daughter Wilhelmina. To show her that she can be whoever she chooses and that she can choose courage every day.
Professionally, I would like to continue my progression within this wonderful industry.
What would your advice be for other women who aspire to be a manager within the hospitality industry?
Be authentic; know yourself, understand your strengths and weaknesses – and use them, don’t hold them as baggage otherwise they with impede your ability to lead. And always have the courage to be vulnerable. This doesn’t mean splurge your emotions to anyone in a 5m radius – but it does mean understand the boundaries you set and allow yourself to be relatable. We are all human after all – and isn’t that nice?