International Women's Day 2020

Women who've made their mark in the pub sector

By MA Editorial

- Last updated on GMT

International Women's Day: we asked dozens of leading women in the hospitality for their opinions on the state of the trade
International Women's Day: we asked dozens of leading women in the hospitality for their opinions on the state of the trade

Related tags: Pub, Beer, Alcoholic beverage, Restaurant, Public house

To champion and celebrate women in the on-trade, at all levels and across a variety of job functions, The Morning Advertiser ​has collected the life stories and advice from some of the most inspiring people in the sector.

The MA team

Maddi McKinley – social media producer


Time in the trade:​ Ten months.

Biggest achievement:​ Working with and creating close relationships with some of the Top 50 Gastropubs and Cocktail bars.

Best advice given: ​In order to become the 1%, you need to do what the other 99% won’t.

Best advice you’d give:​ When life gives you lemons, slice them up and put them in a strong gin and tonic, everything is better with a G&T in your hand.

Barriers to be overcome:​ For women to not be underestimated.

Who has helped and supported you:​ My parents and my partner, they are my biggest fans and are always motivating me to do better.

Heroes:​ My mother, she is one of the most motivated, successful and hard-working women I know, If I turn out to be half the woman she is, I will be super chuffed.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​The way in which social media has helped raise awareness for the issues for equality to make it a more talked-about subject.


Emily Hawkins – reporter


Time in the trade:​ A year and a half.

Biggest achievement:​ Studying and completing a journalism qualification while at The Morning Advertiser​.

Best advice given: ​Don’t be afraid to let people know when they’re wasting your time.

Best advice you’d give: ​Assert yourself and your boundaries, be it in a personal or professional context.

Barriers to be overcome:​ Women’s rights movements and society, generally, need to make sure nobody is left behind and consider how other types of discrimination work with sexism.

Barriers that have been overcome:​ There have been several legal changes in the past decade that help protect and support women, such as Scotland introducing free period products in schools and ‘upskirting’ being made illegal in England and Wales.

Alice Leader – reporter


Time in the trade: ​Worked in a pub, behind the bar, for two-and-a-half years, now been at The MorningAdvertiser ​for almost six months.

Biggest achievement:​ Working hard and long hours in a pub to get myself through university, which in turn got me my dream job as a journalist.

Best advice given:​ Stop caring about what people think of you and just be you.

Best advice you’d give:​ The customer ISN’T always right. Working in hospitality means dealing with customers and people undermine how difficult that can be. But keep smiling, stay motivated and don’t let anything break you. You’d be surprised how far that can get you.

Barriers to be overcome:​ Tackling equality and harassment in the workplace is still a lingering issue. But women must find that voice, exert that voice and take ownership of that voice – aka not put up with s**t.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​The #MeToo campaign was a huge movement that highlighted these issues. New guidance was also published recently to help tackle sexual harassment and other forms of harassment at work to help employers, workers and their representatives understand the impact of harassment in the workplace.


Nikkie Thatcher – senior reporter

Nikkie bw

Time in the trade: ​Nine years.

Biggest achievement: ​Managing to calm a particularly irate pub customer who was spoiling for a fight. I spoke to him for a while, asking him about his family and this seemed to diffuse the situation.

Best advice given:​ Don’t take any s**t from anyone.

Best advice you’d give:​ Definitely don’t take any s**t from anyone. Don’t be afraid to say something if things aren’t right. Standing up for yourself is something that men get credit for yet, women don’t and this needs to change.

Barriers to be overcome:​ There’s still a lot more to be done when it comes to women in the trade. From sexist remarks to the gender pay gap. While things have progressed, particularly in recent years, equality still isn’t in place. It needs to be made clearer that inappropriate behaviour and comments won’t be tolerated.

Barriers that have been overcome:​ Women speak up a lot more against things that aren’t OK that used to get brushed under the carpet – which is great.

Amy Challis, restaurant manager, the Unruly Pig in Bromeswell, Woodbridge, Suffolk

Amy Challis

Time in the trade: ​Eight years.

Biggest achievement: ​My biggest achievement is building the service at the Unruly Pig to be attentive, warm and friendly, without being overbearing – the mythical balance. It’s been essential for the business to build the service to be just as great as the food is. I look back over my three and a half years at the Pig and, without seeming immodest, we have come such a long way, due to our fantastic team being so receptive to our drives for continuous improvement. I’m so proud that this has led us to win Best Front of House 2020 at Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs awards, our second win in three years.

Best advice you’d give: ​Firstly: have fun. Hospitality is not the easiest industry – you have to put your heart and soul into it. So why not have a bit of fun along the way? I’m lucky enough to work with people who genuinely make me cry with laughter on an almost daily basis. The key to a successful operation is a happy team. Happy staff, happy guests. Second piece of advice: detail, detail, detail. Without attention to detail, you can’t achieve consistency. Without consistency, you can’t succeed.

Heroes: ​I would have to say my mother is my biggest hero. She is one of the strongest women that I know. She is positive, kind and caring. She is always there if I need her but will also still tell me off if I need it.


Suzanne Baker, commercial director, Stonegate Pub Company

Suzanne Baker

Time in the trade: ​30-plus years

Biggest achievement: ​Being appointed on to the board of a PLC at age 33. It was during my time with JD Wetherspoon and I was exceptionally proud that I was the youngest female appointed to the board having been in the company for just four years, as well as being a mum with a very young son. Working full time in a male-dominated industry while bringing up a young family and seeing them successfully through school and university is also quite an achievement.

Best advice given: ​I have been given great advice over the years but it is actions have had the most influential impactful on me. Seeing the strong work ethic my mother demonstrated and watching her successfully complete a BA in education while working as a head teacher and bringing up the family was profound. It underpins my own work ethic and the importance female role models play in your own self-belief.

Best advice you’d give: ​Be yourself. Be open, be honest, be true to yourself, demonstrate your passion and don’t forget to have fun.

Heroes: ​Margaret Thatcher, love her or hate her, she was an inspiration to thousands of females who grew up under her leadership. She instilled a confidence that women could achieve whatever they wanted to both personally and professionally. I was also inspired by Princess Diana who became a strong role model for women too. She found her voice amid the control and confines of the royal family, demonstrating her personal independence, passions and love for her boys along with the humility of an international ambassador.


Karren Errington, partner at the Rat in Anick, Hexham, Northumberland

Karen Errington

Time in the trade: ​30-plus years.

Biggest achievement: ​Keeping the Rat open and trading successfully through difficult and changing economic times. I remember someone once telling me that the average life span of a restaurant is seven years so we’re well on the way to doubling that.

Best advice you’d give: ​Get as much experience as you can, be clear about your goals – set out your stall, be strong and don’t be distracted.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​Making drastic changes to the Rat when we arrived and dealing with the negativity brought by some locals who repeatedly told us ‘it’ll never work’ and would stand at the bar and greet diners by telling them it was far too expensive here and that they should go down the road to X,Y and Z.


Alice Bowyer, executive chef, Liberation Group

Alice Bowyer

Time in the trade: ​My parents had a pub when I was born and have grown up in pubs, so that’s 40 years.

Biggest achievement: ​I’m very proud to have led a team that won best food offer at The Publican Awards in 2019 and was a finalist again this year. I also got to cook for Simon Hopkinson once and that was a dream come true.

Best advice given: ​Believe in yourself and empower/delegate your team to allow you more time to think and make the right decisions. After years of wanting to do everything myself and saying yes to everyone I really improved as a manager with this advice. I still like to please but have more confidence to say no.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​Being taken seriously as a chef and a manager of a large department has taken a while – after many years of faking confidence until I actually believed it. Lack of confidence is a common barrier for women. Implementing and developing balanced gender kitchens has been an aim of mine for some time but there’s still a lot of work to do.

Heroes: ​Simon Hopkinson, Gary Rhodes, Gizzi Erskine, Anthony Bourdain, David Chang, Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray, April Bloomfield, Angela Hartnett to name a few. I look up to female chefs such as Elizabeth Haigh, Selin Kiazim, Nieves Barragan and Pip Lacey.


Georgina Young, head brewer, Bath Ales

Georgina Young

Time in the trade​: 22 years.

Biggest achievement: ​Winning Champion Keg Lager at the International Brewing Awards while I was working at Fuller’s was a real career highlight. We won the trophy at two consecutive competitions, which proves teamwork, sourcing the best-quality raw materials and consistency throughout the brewing process, results in world class beer.

Best advice given: ​Work hard, try your best, delegate and surround yourself with talented people.

Barriers to be overcome: ​Pint glasses are still a big barrier – the glassware normally used to serve beer in British pubs can be off-putting for women, who would prefer to drink from a small or more elegant glass. Moving towards a more continental style of glassware – in pubs, bars and restaurants – would help move away from the outdated stereotype that beer is a ‘man’s drink’.

Who has helped and supported you: ​First and foremost, I have to say my family – particularly my husband who puts up with me going away a lot despite him having a full time career. The kids are also great now they are older. Thanks to them, I’ve been able to continue my brewing career.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​Things are beginning to change in terms women in brewing. There are more women working in the industry than portrayed in the media – but there’s still a long way to go.


Charlotte Vincent, head chef at the Five Bells in Cullompton, Devon

Charlotte Vincent

Time in the trade: ​25 years.

Biggest achievement: ​Getting into the Top 50 Gastropubs.

Best advice given: ​No matter what, always get up, show up and try your best.

Best advice you would give: ​Professionally, take notes, drink in knowledge no matter how small – you never know when you might need it. Personally, treat people well – a kind word of encouragement can make someone’s day.

Barriers to be overcome: ​Still equality; female head chefs are still fighting to be heard and recognised in the industry.

Who has helped and supported you: ​My wonderful bosses James and Charlotte Garnham.

Heroes: ​All the women who turn up to work every day and do great things. Ladies, you rock – proper heroes.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​Anxiety and confidence crisis and the obvious discrimination against women in the late ’90s.


Sally Abé, head chef at the Harwood Arms, West London

Sally Abe

Time in the trade: ​15 years.

Biggest achievement: ​Topping the Top 50 Gastropubs list.

Best advice given: ​Every day is a new day, don’t dwell on what happened yesterday just move forward.

Best advice you’d give: ​Realise your own self worth.

Barriers to be overcome: ​I want kitchens to be more diverse, we all need to work together to encourage people who wouldn’t normally consider being a chef or front of house into hospitality.

Who has helped and supported you: ​My husband Matt has been my rock for the past 11 years.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​I’ve worked hard to create a positive, encouraging environment for my team.


Emily Kolltveit, managing director, the Chandos Arms, Colindale, north London

Emily Kolltveit

Time in the trade: ​Six years.

Biggest achievement: ​Winning ‘Best Local’ in the Great British Pub Awards and being recommended by the Church of England to train for the priesthood. I will be ordained on the 4 of July at Saint Paul’s Cathedral.

Best advice you’d give: ​Recently at an awards ceremony, I met a woman who told me that this had been her first day off in five years. The best advice I can give is that you need to build time for yourself. I cannot stress how important this is. If you are finding it difficult to make time for yourself then you need to figure out how to make change. Speak to your BDM about rent relief, think about staffing, understand that there is no money worth risking your long-term health and wellbeing for.

Heroes: ​One of my biggest heroes is Julian of Norwich, she was the first woman to write a book in this country – Revelations of DivineLove ​in the 14th century. She had to negotiate her theological ideas around the overpowering patriarchal medieval church. As a woman, the pub industry can feel very male and often you are negotiating in a realm that only inhabits a male point of view. That has changed a lot over the past five years but there is still a long way to go for the voice of female publicans to be truly heard.


Mel Marriot, founder and managing director, Darwin & Wallace

Mel Marriott

Time in the trade: ​25 years.

Best advice given: ​My father would write to me often and close his letters with “Dream big little one” – so I do.

Best advice you’d give: ​Look beyond the obvious, work harder than the rest, surround yourself with things you love. This has become the mantra within our business and encapsulates some of what is necessary to be successful and to stand out in business amid a very capable and competitive peer group yet recognises this will only happen if you truly have a passion for your daily endeavour and love what you do.

Barriers to be overcome: ​These change daily – sometimes it’s the curveballs that have the biggest chance of knocking us off course, a departure from routine or rhythm of your life-work balance. These are usually temporary and are overcome by focusing on short-term solutions to manage the blip and the support of others, which means not being afraid to draw others in and ask for help – a problem shared is a problem halved.

Heroes: ​Along the way I have been privileged to work with or meet a great number of inspiring individuals many of whom have helped me through their willingness to be flexible patient and enthusiastic about my plans.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​Imposter syndrome – it’s real.


Emma McClarkin, chief executive, the British Beer & Pub Association

Emma McClarkin

Time in the trade: ​Four months.

Biggest achievement: ​Representing my country as an MEP for 10 years. Turning my passions in life into my work, from politics to sport to music, and now beer and pubs.

Best advice given: ​Always have your 60-second lift pitch ready and know your worth, the value of your ideas, experience and dynamic.

Best advice you’d give: ​Always be motivated, don’t stagnate. If you are not giving 100% it’s time to find a new challenge. Love what you do. Find a mentor to motivate you.

Barriers to be overcome: ​We still have stereotypes to break down. It will take everyone in the industry to tackle these. As a woman, you have to find your voice, step up, be better, be quicker, be stronger, confident in your ideas and ownership of them. Women must help other women and lift the younger generation. Blaze a trail but help to make sure that path is there for others is key.

Who has helped and supported you: ​Some wonderful men and women gave me the confidence to believe in myself, and my family. Remember success often requires a lot of sacrifice so the love and support from your family is indispensable.

Heroes: ​Dolly Parton and Jilly Cooper. Successful, passionate women who did things their way without losing their femininity. If only I could write and sing as well.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​Being told I was too young to be elected in politics before becoming the youngest MEP representing the UK.


Celia Leberre, (soon to be) head bartender

Celia Leberre

Time in the trade: ​I started in the hospitality industry when I was 15, working as a commis waiter in France, then I moved to the Nottingham just after I turned 18 and continued working in bars and restaurants. A few years later I decided to switch it up and move to Bath where I joined the Hideout team a year and a half ago.

Biggest achievement: ​Moving to the UK on my own and at 18 – I didn’t speak English – to pursue my hospitality career.

Best advice given: ​Just be yourself and don’t worry about what people say because ‘haters gonna hate’.

Best advice you’d give: ​If you’re having a bad day just grab a crab smasher and power through.

Barriers to be overcome: ​Gaining knowledge, you can always learn more.

Who has helped and supported you: ​My husband, who has always supported me since we met in Nottingham and, of course, the Hideout crew for pushing me to enhance my skills.

Heroes: ​My mum because she inspires me to be the best, I can be. As well as Cleo Rocos, the owner of AquaRiva Tequila, her passion and work ethic is inspiring.


Maureen Heffernan, managing director, Leisure PR

Maureen Heffernan

Time in the trade: ​25-plus years

Biggest achievement: ​Tricky to state just one as I have many things I am proud of. Running Leisure PR is up there as we strive to make a difference not only through our PR work but uniting the industry around showcasing the great careers on offer. Working with a small village in Nepal has certainly been humbling and the sheer sense of pride in seeing some of the young girls now have a sense of worth and ambition touches the heartstrings. And seeing my two sons turn out as engaging and successful men makes me extremely proud.

Barriers to be overcome: ​Getting your voice heard as a female in hospitality has not always been easy and working full time while bringing up a family means you need a great network around you.

Who has helped and supported you: ​Robert Humphreys MBE was my first boss in this industry whose support, belief and encouragement set me on my career journey. Mary Curnock Cook OBE who was my first female boss, whose tenacity, foresight and vision was inspiring and Ian Payne MBE whose total belief and encouragement in my, and many others’ ability, makes anything seem possible.


Nina Matsunga, head chef

Nina Matsunaga

Time in the trade: ​Nine years.

Biggest achievement: ​Opening my own café followed by my own gastropub with rooms.

Best advice given: ​Surround yourself with people that are better than you.

Best advice you’d give: ​Be prepared for hard work and the challenges you will face but only do this job if you really love it.

Barriers to be overcome: ​Go your own way and do what you want to do and what makes you happy.

Who has helped and supported you: ​My parents growing up and now my partner, James.

Heroes: ​Roux brothers and David Foskett MBE. Also Tim Lang while I was at college.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​Moving from Manchester to Cumbria and everything else it entailed.


Sarah Weir, managing director, Albion & East

Sarah Weir

Time in the trade: ​21 years.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​It was hard to be a woman breaking into the boys’ club, particularly in the ‘drinks’ industry. Funnily enough, it was never so much of an issue at grassroots level – our industry is one of the most diverse and accepting there is. A busy, tough shift bonds people together beyond race, religion, sexual orientation, gender and education.

However, in ‘management’ positions, the divides do exist, and not just on gender, as is true of most industries. You have to be savvy to navigate through it and tough skinned to take the knocks.

Along the way, there were times when people took your breath away. Adam Martin, if you are out there, I will never forget when I returned from maternity leave with my second child on three days a week, you said to me you got more out of me in three days than most of the staff who worked five days. That made me very proud and even more driven to prove that working mums can add value, not just tick a ‘diversity’ box.

Good news, the gender divide is changing. Women are breaking into the traditional male enclave of senior operational roles and board level positions. It would be better if that happened without movements like International Women’s Day rather than because of them.

Hospitality should pioneer diversity for other industries just as our teams pioneer this every day on shift, and have done for many more years than us ‘managers’ have. They wouldn’t for inequality, so why do we?


Kate Nicholls, chief executive UKHospitality

Kate Nicholls

Time in the trade: ​I have been working in and around hospitality for 27 years.

Barriers to be overcome: ​In hospitality, we pride ourselves on being a true meritocracy. We have a good track record providing career opportunities to women. We strive to provide opportunities in every region of the UK across a wide range of skills levels irrespective of background. It is clear, though, that is much more we can, and should, be doing to get women into senior positions in the industry. Despite significant progress, 84% of businesses in the hospitality sector are still not on course to reach 33% female representation across all three senior leadership levels (board, executive committee and direct reports) by the end of 2020. This is something we need to focus on.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​There is plenty we can be proud of in terms of promoting diversity and providing opportunities for women. For instance, we provide career starts to young women and we have been excellent at shrinking the gender pay gap which, in 2019, stood at just 2.8% for hospitality, the fifth closest to parity out of 85 sectors analysed. There are numerous green shoots all around the industry, too. We are set to hit that 33% mark for women on boards by the end of next year. We are significantly outperforming the cross-industry average in women and black, Asian and minority ethnic employees reporting into exec committees – meaning we have a strong pipeline. We are also doing great work providing opportunities for employees and guests with disabilities and neuro-diversity and our sector is a model of social mobility.

Best advice you’d give: ​Lift as you climb. Encourage hungry young talent, give the benefit of your experience, give them opportunities and challenge them to prove themselves. Don’t just support, be a champion for those coming behind.


Stosie Madi, chef and co-founder, the Parkers Arms, Newton-in-Bowland, Lancashire

Stosie Madi Chef

Time in the trade: ​More than 30 years – to be honest all my life really, I grew up in a hospitality business.

Biggest achievement: ​Winning Craft Guild of Chefs pub chef of the year – nothing is better than a vote from peers, which is why lists such as the Top 50 Gastropubs and the National Restaurant Awards matter to the industry.

Best advice you’d give: ​Make a plan and stick to it. Never ever give up, you will find a way.

Barriers to be overcome: ​Making your voice heard against big business and hugely funded organisations. As an independent, self-funded business, you have to make a lot of noise to get noticed. Always use your funding to better your business and your voice to make yourself heard.

Who has helped and supported you: ​My wonderful parents who were in hospitality, my business partner and mentor Kathy Smith, and my small and supportive work family.

Heroes: ​My mother, the best chef in the world, and Kathy Smith, my business partner – they just made things happen and didn’t wait around. They go out and get it. It is in my nature too.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​Being told I would not make it happen on a shoestring – I was told you need big funding and being refused funding by banks that did not see my vision. If you believe in yourself and your product, with sound advice, thorough research and hard work you can make it happen.


Fiona Dickie, deputy pubs code adjudicator


Time in the trade: ​Two and a half years.

Biggest achievement: ​I’m humbled by the opportunity I’ve been given to bring greater fairness into the regulated tied pub trade.

Best advice given: ​Set your expectation, lead by your own example and raise your game. Like Michelle Obama said: “When they go low, we go high.”

Best advice you’d give: ​Don’t ever compromise your integrity; you can’t put a price on peace of mind.

Barriers to be overcome: ​Coming from outside the industry, I’ve been struck by the lack of diversity – including at the top end of management and among trade professionals, campaigners and other stakeholders. This isn’t the 1970s and we should expect more than lip service to equality and diversity, which can strengthen decision making and greatly increase the talent pool. Not enough action has been taken by those who can to bring more balance and opportunity.

Who has helped and supported you: ​Everywhere I’ve been in my career, I’ve found people who want to lift others up. You get the best out of people, and out of yourself, by encouraging others.

Heroes: ​My dad. He loved his village community and was a real pub man. In the 1990s, as chairman of the trustees of the village charity, he arranged to lease land at the rear of the pub to Everards for a car park so it could reopen after a fire had kept it closed for two years. That pub is still thriving at the heart of the village.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​I’m raising two children so, as many working care givers will appreciate, finding the right back-up is an almost constant strain.


Lauren Soderberg, beer guru for The New World Trading Company

Lauren Soderberg

Time in the trade: ​Four years in beer, 17 years in hospitality.

Biggest achievement: ​Being included in The Independent​’s 20 female ground breakers of 2017 was amazing. To be on a list with the likes of Rose McGowan, Malala Yousafzai and Professor Mary Beard was an honour. Its also pretty good being the first female beer guru for NWTC.

Best advice given: ​It’s really cheesy but believe in yourself more. I have moments of self-doubt and then my dad is the voice of reason.

Best advice you’d give: ​Don’t listen to anyone who tells you, you can’t do it. You’re a badass who can do anything you put your mind to.

Barriers to be overcome: ​Some men find it hard to take women in beer seriously. In summer, I host ale masterclasses and they tend to be stag dos. I did one last year where the groom’s dad was shocked that a woman was hosting the class. The groom asked me three times for my bra as part of one of his dares even though I said no. The entire party pretty much ignored me and spoke over me when I was talking.

Who has helped and supported you: ​My family and boyfriend are my biggest supporters and cheerleaders.

Heroes: ​The work that Melissa Cole and Jaega Wise have done for women in beer is incredible, they have really opened the door for more women in the beer industry.


Joycelyn Neve, managing director, Seafood Pub Company

Joycelyn Neve

Time in the trade: ​11 years.

Biggest achievement: ​Paying my dad back the money he’d lent me to get started was an important personal milestone. On a daily basis I look at the incredible people in the Seafood Pub Company team and am wowed by what a long way we’ve come.

Best advice given: ​Not to lose sight of your goals and why you’re trying to achieve them.

Best advice you’d give: ​Trust your instinct and don’t be afraid of making mistakes but when you do, dust yourself off, learn from it and go again.

Barriers to be overcome: ​We need to be better at promoting all the varied roles within the industry, whether your passion is in food or drink, marketing or customers service, hospitality is a great career for life.

Who has helped and supported you: ​Lots of people. One of my favourite things about our industry is how supportive other operators are to each other. People are open, honest, and happy to share past experiences – good and bad – so we can all get better.

Heroes: ​My biggest inspiration comes from my dad, Chris Neve, who established his wholesale fish company in Fleetwood, Lancashire.


Anna-Marie Mason, director of marketing, Mitchells & Butlers

Anna-Marie Mason

Time in the trade: ​Seven years. However, I also grew up surrounded by the hospitality industry as it was part of the family business.

Biggest achievement: ​Finding a way to have a good balance in life while doing a job I love.

Best advice given: ​Life, including your career, has many planned and unplanned twists. There is always something to be learned from them.

Best advice you’d give: ​Treat others as you’d like to be treated yourself

Who has helped and supported you: ​There are too many to mention, working in hospitality, you have to be part of a team. I’ve worked with a diverse range of people who have helped me develop my style and lead really successful teams. But overall, everyone who I’ve worked with in my career has supported me in some way.

Heroes: ​I won’t embarrass them by naming them. But my parents’ work ethic and values remain an inspiration and a north star in my life.


Anni Opong, managing director, Arc Inspirations

Anni Opong

Time in the trade: ​28 years.

Biggest achievement: ​My biggest achievement to date would be being promoted to managing director at Arc Inspirations.

Best advice given: ​I would say don’t be afraid to take risks and step outside your comfort zone – if the outcome isn’t what you expect, you will learn from it regardless.

Best advice you’d give: ​Always believe in yourself and be confident to rise above challenges you are faced with – there’s nothing you can’t overcome if you put your mind to it.

Barriers to be overcome: ​Even through tough times in the industry, it is key to keep constantly energising, motivating and inspiring our growing teams, and to remind people how great it is be part of an amazing industry made up of talented and passionate people.

Who has helped and supported you: ​My partner Tony has been an amazing support and has always encouraged and pushed me to be the best that I can be.

Heroes: ​Michelle Obama.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​Looking back over the years, there have a been a few barriers, but rising above these to become one of the leading figures in the hospitality industry in a male-orientated sector has been a real accomplishment.


Hannah Newman, owner/managing director of two pubs

Hannah Newman

Time in the trade: ​14 years.

Biggest achievement: ​Aside from my three beautiful children, starting our pub company and taking the keys to our first pub aged 22 was a pretty crazy accomplishment. We literally started it with what was going to a be a small deposit (£5,000) on a shared ownership flat. Instead we took the keys to a Georgian pub with three floors turning over about £800 a week. Through blood sweat and tears, we are still trading (in two different sites) nine years later. Without any big investors and while balancing having three small children.

Best advice given: ​I worked for a small independent fashion company 10 years ago, initially in marketing but ended up supporting the owner in budgeting and reporting. Her financial adviser taught me turnover for vanity, profit for sanity (among how to accurately read and write financial documents). It’s so true and easily forgotten when you are on your own. It’s much easier to follow sales than GP.

Best advice you’d give: ​Pay attention, work hard, wherever you are. Even if you’re starting as the cleaning person or a warehouse packer. This industry is one of the only ones where you will do best learning on the job and hard work is almost always rewarded.

Barriers to be overcome: ​Children in the workplace. Or the work-life balance. In the past year, I’ve nearly been turned away from two trade shows with babes in arms. Mothers are actually some of the most impressive individuals in the industry. We need to split the taboo between work and home.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​The punters’ attitude towards women have definitely changed – we have finally normalised women running the show. When I was landlady of my first pub, some of the old guard wouldn’t even discuss beer with me. I definitely feel more respected behind the bar now.


Danielle Watkins, bartender, Lab 22 Cardiff

Danielle Watkins

Time in the trade: ​Two years.

Biggest achievement: ​Graduating from university and being runner-up in a bar team of the year award, earlier this year.

Best advice given: ​Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.

Barriers to be overcome: ​Dwelling on the past and future.

Who has helped and supported you: ​My mother, she brought me up as a single parent.

Heroes: ​Simone De Beauvoir, Jordan Peterson and Grace Jones.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​The fear of the unknown.


Helen Charlesworth, managing director of branded pubs, Stonegate Pub Company

Helen Charlesworth

Time in the trade: ​Four years.

Biggest achievement: ​Completing my master’s degree in Total Quality Management and Business Excellence, while still working full time. On a personal level, the birth of my twin boys has been an enormous landmark in my life.

Best advice given: ​Provide a positive environment, encourage progression and surround yourself with a team of people full of passion, creativity and drive.

Best advice you’d give: ​Be authentic. Authentic to others, but most of all to yourself.

Barriers to be overcome: ​I struggle daily to achieve a work-life balance.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​Everyone has, and will continue to, overcome barriers in their lives. It’s how you learn to survive and thrive from them that makes you a stronger and more successful person.


Emily Scott, chef/restauranteur, St Tudy Inn, Bodmin, Cornwall

Emily Scott

Time in the trade: ​29 years.

Biggest achievement: ​Last year, I competed on BBC Two’s Great British Menu ​2019 in the south-west heat, which was great exposure for the St Tudy Inn. I have also been listed in the CODE top 100 most influential women in hospitality for two years running. I was immensely proud to find myself on this list alongside so many inspirational women. The industry has changed a lot for the better since I trained, and the presence of more women as chefs, sommeliers and business owners has played a massive part in that. We were awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2016, which has been retained for the fifth year in the Michelin Guide 2020. St Tudy Inn was listed in the Estrella Top 50 Gastropubs for the fourth year – also winning the highest climber.

Best advice given: ​Press on and never give up.

Best advice you’d give: ​There are many highs and lows but being consistent is the most important thing and believing in yourself.

Barriers to be overcome: ​Reducing waste and becoming as green as possible in the restaurant business – inspiring the next generation in hospitality.

Who has helped and supported you: ​My partner Mark – a winemaker – has given me a huge amount of support and is inspirational, my children and my parents.

Barriers that have been overcome: ​Self-doubt and backing myself. Being female in a male-dominated world has had its challenges. Working with food after suffering from an eating disorder.


Rachael Singer, financial director, Chemisphere

Rachael Singer is FD at Chemisphere UK

Time in the trade:​ I joined the industry as credit controller for Chemisphere just over 10 years ago, having been made redundant from my previous role in recruitment. It was a leap into the unknown, and I have never looked back.

Barriers to be overcome:​ I know the pressures that many women face, and as an employer we often welcome part time workers and will try to accommodate working hours that suit both staff and the business - something that is important when ensuring parents (mums AND dads!) can take control of their careers whilst bringing up children. This has been seen as a barrier in the past, especially for working mums, and we want to make it as easy as possible.

What advice would you give:​ Come on in! Women are now influencing the beer and ale scene - from a product perspective, the advertising and marketing has become much more imaginative, with craft brewers opting for funky packaging and flavouring which almost certainly appeals to more women.

I always kick off my weekends with an citrus infused IPA, and being part of the industry at this exciting time makes for a vibrant and varied career.


Raissa de Haas, co-founder of Double Dutch Drinks

Raissa de Haas

Best advice given:​ The best piece of advice we were given was that people buy from people – you need to sell the story behind the brand and show your passion in your pitch. We both believe that people buy from brands who they trust and have a connection with. As young entrepreneurs, we have needed to grow our business relationships, so we have always spent a lot of time networking at events, reaching out to potential customers and actually talking to people. The majority of our social life is through Double Dutch!

You also have to listen to your instincts. When it comes to business decisions, sometimes too many cooks can spoil the broth. Have faith in the vision you have for your own brand. Starting a business is never easy so you need to be super passionate about your product. If you aren’t sold on it, no one else will be!

Heroes:​ We couldn’t exist in the drink sector without paying homage the amazing women in this space such as Anna Sebastian (Bartender at Artesian), Camille Vidal (Founder La Maison Wellness), Jo Last (Senior bartender at Beaufort Bar, The Savoy) and Tess Posthumus (Barowner and Bartender at Flying Dutchman Cocktails). It’s great to see women making their mark in the industry, and we are proud to be part of this movement with our recently launched Double Dutch Scholarship and Mentoring Programme designed to encourage and offer support to up-and-coming female bartenders in the drinks industry.

Victoria Segebarth, managing director, Asahi UK Holdings Ltd

Victoria Segebarth

Time in the trade:​ I started out in the beer industry approximately 21 years ago.

Best advice given:​ Relatively early on in my career, I remember being given a couple of pieces of advice from senior board members. Firstly, as a leader you should always be as authentic as possible in your interaction with colleagues – sharing your ideas, vision and values as well as acknowledging your areas of development and vulnerability. Secondly, you should always be mindful of the shadow you cast with others, especially as you become more senior.

Best advice you’d give:​ To help others embarking on a similar path to me, I would certainly reiterate the advice I was given in the early stages of my career. Additionally, know that the mistakes you make are some of the best development opportunities you will ever receive – so always take the chance to learn from them.

Barriers to be overcome: ​If you believe in yourself and your abilities there are very few barriers that can get in the away of realising what you want to achieve. And you can use your achievements as the catalyst to drive your career forward, obtaining recognition and reward from the goals you reach and how you made them happen. The vast majority of companies now recognise the power that diversity can bring to the business, both within the workforce itself and as an ethos for strategic thinking and growth. It is one of the most valuable focus areas for enabling the delivery of great results.

Gisela Rule, global brands portfolio director, Asahi International Limited

Time in the trade:​ 14 years


Biggest achievement:​ Re-shaping the portfolio of a 400 year old company, Royal Grolsch in the Netherlands, from a ‘one brand, one SKU’- business to a premium portfolio-led business, doubling the bottom-line.

Best advice given:​ Always prioritise ‘who’ over ‘what’. It’s one of the first principles in my favourite business book of all time, ‘ Good to Great’ by Jim Collins. It’s an oldie, but a goodie!

Best advice you’d give:​ Be yourself! Everyone else is taken.

Barriers to be overcome:​ I don’t like the word ‘barriers’. I prefer ‘challenges’.  My biggest personal challenge is to manage my own energy every day, so I can set the right tone and pace in the business.  I firmly believe that the tone you set, is the tone you get.  It takes discipline and courage to lead with optimism - finding possibility and potential, even when times are tough.  That’s what I aspire to daily.

Who has helped and supported you:​ I’ve been blessed with great bosses over the years; people who have seen potential in me and took a bet on me, even at times when I wouldn’t have bet on myself.  It’s my mission to be that kind of inspirational boss to the people I lead. 

Monika Agocs, group corporate affairs director, Asahi International Limited

Time in the trade:​ 14 years

Asahi 2

Biggest achievement:​ Getting my family of 5 together for dinner at 7 pm every day or at least 90% of the time

Best advice given:​ Life is short, don’t delay happiness!

Best advice you’d give:​ always know how to say ‘Cheers!’ in the local language of the country you are visiting

Barriers to overcome:​ keeping up with the ever changing digital landscape

Who has helped and supported you:​ the great fellow brewers and beer-lovers within the industry and Asahi, especially our Corporate Affairs team

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