Inspired by International Women’s Day, we decided to speak to a few of our female general managers about their experiences of being women in the hospitality sector – what is often a fairly male dominated industry. Introducing two much loved Drake & Morganers: Jo Hazelwood, General Manager at The Refinery Spinningfields; Sarah Parker, General Manager at The Refinery Bankside and Clare Ellis, General Manager at The Drift – see what they have to say here.
How long have you been a general manager for?
Clare: 3 years. Jo: 6 years. Sarah: 1 year.
How did you get to where you are now?
Jo: Hard work, having the ability to be diverse in a forever changing sector and believing that I could achieve things.
Sarah: 10 years ago I started as a waitress / bar tender just when I can back from travelling. Before I knew it I was blown away by it all and completely sucked in. I became a supervisor then a trainer before becoming a duty manager. Moving back into training I opened a bartender training school for the same company before moving back to operations and climbing the ladder some more.
Best and worst bits about your job?
Clare: The best has to be making people smile, with our random acts of kindness. We love to surprise our guests.
Jo: Meeting new people every day from staff to customers and always being challenged, no two days are ever the same.
Do you feel it’s a male dominated job?
Clare: Yes – however not within Drake & Morgan. I’ve worked for late night venues before and that definitely is more male dominant.
Sarah: Maybe once upon a time but definitely not now.
What’s your favourite thing about working for Drake & Morgan?
Clare: The innovation and creativity. D&M encourages us to play around with different ideas, whether it be with a food/drink specials to creating beautiful displays touches around our venues. We also work with some pretty amazing people too and each day is a new adventure.
Jo: Being in a growing open minded company that invest into people so they are able to succeed. We don’t take ourselves too seriously and always have fun/playful element along the way. Sarah: The fact they invest so much into people. Development, trust, training and have taught me a list of things I couldn’t even begin to write… it would take too long.
Does being a woman help you understand the feminine aspects that make Drake & Morgan the brand it is?
Clare: Definitely – Women have more of an eye for detail and at Drake and Morgan it’s all about the detail. We also know that women are better at multitasking too 😉
Jo: Yes, we all know women are more tuned into the detail. I always set out to create a place where I would come to drink/dine with friends or family.
If the managing directors at previous jobs have been male, how does it differ having a female managing director here?
Clare: With our MD being female it creates more of a balanced culture within the otherwise male dominated industry. It’s empowering having a strong female role model.
Sarah: She has as much balls as the next man so maybe not so different. But wow! So personable and in the detail of everything in a way that I have not seen before.
Any funny stories relating to being a woman in your role?
Jo: For a previous company we used to go on an annual trip, out of the 70/80 people there only 8-10 would female. It’s the closest thing to a mass stag do that I will ever experience.
Sarah: I just think it’s funny when guys who are a bit tipsy don’t realise I am the GM on a Friday night and I have to tell them off for being naughty! They get cheeky for a minute or two then soon catch on.