Hot Shots

Hot Shots: young, ambitious leaders

By Sara Hussein

- Last updated on GMT

Hot Shots
Hot Shots is The Morning Advertiser’s initiative to recognise young and upcoming individuals working in the trade, from those running pubs to business ops specialists. Here we profile two more people nominated as rising stars, a lessee who's turned her pub into a community hub and an operations manager who took on a worthwhile challenge. 

Jo Zezulka, Lessee, Ilkley Moor Vaults, Ikley, Star Pubs & Bars

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How did you end up in your current role?

After I left school, I worked at the pub for a few years and worked my way up. I then decided to move to a chain for a while but realised it wasn’t for me – it was just too restrictive. I returned to the Ilkley Moors because it was a role that I really enjoyed and it just felt right.

Why do you like working in the industry?

Every day is different. If there is something I want to explore I have the freedom to do that in my business. This is not just like any other job, you can explore anything that interests you, like different menu ideas. Also the people in the industry and the customers you meet are so friendly. 

What’s been your career highlight so far?

The environment that I’ve created at work. I’ve worked in a few different pubs and the industry is not always pleasant. It can be a bit of a boys’ club. Getting involved and trying to progress is quite difficult. Having been through that in other places, I knew that I didn’t want that here and I’ve created an environment that is good for both staff and customers. 

Are you a hot shot?

  • Do you run your own successful pub?
  • Or, do you work for a pubco, or supplier, and are making a positive difference?
  • Aged 30 or under?
  • Looking to boost your profile and career?

Email liam.coleman@wrbm.com for more details on how to get involved

What’s the best bit of advice you’ve received?

“You know what you’re doing, just do it.” If you have the confidence to do what you want to achieve, don’t doubt yourself.

How do you feel you’ve made a positive difference in your role?

Having a pub run by a woman is different and I’m really proud of that. We have groups such as the Women’s Institute that meets here regularly. We’re a community pub and it’s really important that we come across like that. You can walk into the pub and there’s always someone to have a conversation with, you don’t feel alienated.

You’re 28 and own your own business. Looking back, what challenges did you encounter along the way and how did you overcome them?

There were many challenges, particularly with my age and, unfortunately, gender makes a huge difference. I reached an assistant manager role when I was in my early 20s. I wanted to push myself, go somewhere else and learn more, and it was actually really hard. I went to an interview and the interviewers didn’t expect somebody that young to be as career-orientated and maybe they didn’t think I’d achieved all that experience – a girl of 22 doesn’t really fit the bill. That’s why I went back to Ilkley Moor Vaults, because I was getting somewhere there. I’m glad I did because I would have never pushed myself and get where I wanted to go.

Do you think there more opportunities for young people now in the trade compared to when you first started?

There are more opportunities but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done. The industry needs to be more open-minded. Training is lacking, particularly for chefs, and entry-level jobs leave a lot to be desired. It’s an area that needs a lot of work and it’s a challenge that I face on a daily basis.

What next for the pub?

We’ll keep progressing and probably change a few things on the menu next year. The industry is changing when it comes to food offers. We’ve had a whole lot of chains pop up in Ilkley and that means more challenges for us. The traditional casual-dining restaurant sector is changing, so it would be nice to get there first before everybody else does. 

Marcus Turner, Operations Manager, Fuller’s Inns

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How did you end up in your current role?

When I joined Fuller’s in January 2014, I spent a year working in several of its pubs. I then trained as a deputy operations manager and was later promoted to my current role. Before joining the industry, I was a sports trader.

Why do you like working in the industry?

I think it’s a diverse, fun and challenging environment to work in. Fuller’s is a great company and I’m very proud to work for them. There’s a lot of talented people and I feel it’s a great start to one’s career, you certainly get looked after as well.

What’s been your career highlight so far?

When I was appointed operations manager, I started working on my first big project, which was to refurbish one of our pubs in Liverpool Street. Seeing my vision come to life and opening the doors to that pub again was a very proud moment.

What’s the best bit of advice you’ve received?

“Do the job to the best ability you can and always focus on the ‘now’, rather than worrying what the future may hold.”

How do you feel you’ve made a positive difference in your role?

Part of my role is recruiting people and seeing their development in our teams. One of my colleagues started in the company as kitchen staff and, five years later, I appointed her as a manager in one of our new, refurbished sites. Promoting our own team members is very important and when you have a big influence on someone’s career, it’s quite gratifying.

What is the Breakfast Challenge and why did you decide to take part in it?

A colleague and I saw the opportunity to work on two sites in London that were quite close to one another. We wanted to push their breakfast sales in a fun and challenging way by getting our team members involved. Whoever sold the most breakfasts in a certain amount of time would be the winner, but the operations manager of the losing pub had to complete the Ice Bucket Challenge in freezing cold weather! The challenge was done in conjunction with Shooting Star Chase, a charity that we work very closely with. My colleague did the forfeit, but we raised more than £1,000 in donations. It was a very worthwhile thing to have done.

What challenges have you encountered in your role?

This role is very varied and a number of things can happen very quickly that are out of your control. Recently, one of our pubs flooded because of the enormous amount of rainfall we had recently in London. Suddenly, you get a call first thing in the morning saying your pub is under water. There are always so many great moments, but there are some that can bring you back to earth.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I’m very proud to work for Fuller’s and I hope to have a long career with them. At the moment, I’m just doing my job to the best of my ability and seeing where that takes me. 

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