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From bar to boardroom: a career in the pub industry

Working in a pub is not something that features in any school’s careers advice programme; many people assume that jobs in the sector are mainly for students and part-time workers, or something that people do as a temporary stopgap while in between ‘proper’ jobs. Those of us who work in pubs and bars know that… View Article

Working in a pub is not something that features in any school’s careers advice programme; many people assume that jobs in the sector are mainly for students and part-time workers, or something that people do as a temporary stopgap while in between ‘proper’ jobs. Those of us who work in pubs and bars know that this couldn’t be further fromt he truth. The pub sector is a thriving industry, full of fantastic opportunities and offering many wide-ranging careers. Anyone with the desier and commitment to succeed has the opportunity to progress from bar to boardroom.

My own experience, and that of many of my colleagues is a testament to that. In 1994, I was working as general manager of a pub alled the Old Vicarage in Bournemouth. Twenty years later, in 2014, I was appointed chief executive of Stonegate Pub Company. Our chairman, Ian Payne, also began his career working behind the bar at the age of 19. Our commercial director, Suzanne Baker, and Kate Wilton, operations director for Slug & Lettuce, both started their careers working as waitresses. The experience ignited their interest in, and passion for, the industry. As Kate said recently: ‘I got to earn money and have lots of fun; I was hooked!’

The sky’s the limit

We currently have 772 pubs and more than 14,500 employees at Stonegate, so we understand the many and varied career opportunities that are available in the industry. Our vision is to deliver award-winning, industry-leading training and development programmes that drive performance improvement and cultural change. We have developed our business to ensure that each and every employee has access to a structured career development path.

We begn offering apprenticeships in 2010 and since then have taken on 2,000 apprentices. Our award-winning Albert’s Theory of Progression (ATOP) career development programme underpins our ‘Bar to Boardroom’ ethos. People are given the opportunity to progress at their own pace from bartender, kitchen porter or commis chef, to team leader, supervisor, assistant manager, general manager, area manager and beyond. For those who want to move on from the pub environment, there are countless opportunities available at head office – purchasing, marketing, IT, human resources, operations, risk management, property (acquisitions and refurbishments), finance – to name but a few.

The Good Pub Guide lists the top 5,000 pubs in the UK. Together, those pubs employ thousands of successful managers and support teams, all of them at different stages of their career and all of them playing a vital role in contributing to each pub’s success.

I honestly can’t think of a better industry to work in. It’s vibrant, varied, challenging, fun, exciting and rewarding on so many levels. The opportunities for career progression really are unlimited!

Simon Longbottom has served as CEO of Stonegate Pub Company since 2014. Prior to that, he spent 26 years within the pub and gaming sector holding a variety of roles including managing director of the leased/tenanted division of Greene King, managing director of Gala Coral’s gaming division and senior positions with Mitchells & Butlers and Mill House Inns.

Favourite pub:

London, WC2H 9EP

The Two Brewers is an award-winning LGBTQ+ venue in Clapham that has been trading for nearly 38 years. It provides a community hub for LGBTQ+ customers, but has an inclusive, welcoming policy, offering a safe place for all to enjoy a night out and to see some high-quality entertainment and top DJs. It’s my favourite pub because it personifies everything that Stonegate represents.

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