'When likeminded women come together it is very powerful and supportive'

By The Morning Advertiser

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Support system: 'I now realise that when I feel uncomfortable or uneasy in a situation it is normally because others are trying to impose their ‘values’ on me'
Support system: 'I now realise that when I feel uncomfortable or uneasy in a situation it is normally because others are trying to impose their ‘values’ on me'

Related tags Women Gender equality Training Staff

Members of the Brilliant Woman Boardroom 2019 programme from the pub sector – and the scheme’s founder Jackie Moody-McNamara – share their thoughts on the challenges facing women in the hospitality sector

'Women don’t promote themselves and their achievements’ 

Jackie Moody-McNamara
Jackie Moody-McNamara, independent director and growth facilitator

What are the challenges that women and minority groups are facing in the industry which is stopping them from progressing their careers?

“In my opinion, the greatest challenges are that women don’t promote themselves and their achievements even though there are some highly competent women in the sector. Given some women don’t feel confident enough to self-promote in the workplace, they are sadly being missed when opportunities like promotions arise.

“Another challenge is unintentional bias about what women have to offer. Unfortunately, people make assumptions and because women are not self-promoting, businesses are not seeing their true potential. 

“With that said, companies are also not working hard enough to unlock and discover the potential that they have in their businesses.”

How are you helping women to overcome these challenges so that they can progress?

“As an independent director in the sector, I’ve looked at this from a strategic perspective and I believe that I’ve designed a really unique programme tailored around the challenges that women are currently facing – in fact, I don’t think I’ve seen anyone else do something similar.

“I set up the Brilliant Women Boardroom in October 2019 which is designed to empower women to achieve accelerated business success in male-dominated businesses.

“The 12-month programme combined four classroom learning days which included board level guest speakers, coaching, online accountability sessions, peer to peer support groups and self-directed learning. Due to Covid, we adapted the programme to provide support throughout the pandemic to provide a positive environment for the group to thrive and not just survive.

“Over the past 12 months and despite Covid-19, we have had some fantastic success stories from the first cohort who joined me on the programme. 

“One comment that really struck me when a client of mine was being recommended to a recruiter by a well-respected board member was 'I don’t think they quite realise just how good they are'. That's my specialism in a nutshell – to help women discover just how good they are and then find their voices and self-advocate. By sharing our story, we hope it inspires more women to do this and for businesses to discover and unlock the potential they have in their workforce.”

How would you like things to change in the future so that women can advance their careers?

“Looking ahead, I would love for the hospitality sector to truly grasp and recognise these issues that women are facing with their progression.

“What we need is a more strategic approach across the sector. Senior executives collaborating and more of the trade press and industry bodies working together on how we create career pathways for women and promote it.

“Too often I used to sit at events, or now read online, board members shouting about signing charters for diversity. When I speak to the women in these businesses, they often have no idea they are signed up and there are no tangible changes in the business, no real understanding of what the challenges are, could not articulate them and there’s no visibility of change or steps to take to progress.”

‘I believe women are perceived to be emotional’

Christine Oxford Business Solutions_Poppy Jakes Photography--54
Christine Oxford - MD and business owner of Christine Oxford Business Solutions, former managing director of Channel Island-based Liberation Group & Butcombe Brewery

“I have worked in the hospitality sector all my career – coming from Blackpool it was a given I would do. My first area management role was for a small regional brewer where I learnt my trade, working with operators who ran their own businesses and was hooked.”

What was it that attracted you to the Brilliant Women boardroom programme?

“To be honest I was quite sceptical as to what I could learn from the programme. I was by then a board member, the only women on an all-male board but comfortable with my place at the table and my ability to speak and be heard. I have an extraordinarily strong inclination to always be working on my own development and the programme seemed a great idea because of that.”

What are biggest obstacles to women gaining recognition for their contribution at senior and board level?

“I believe women are perceived to be emotional with their business decision and not very commercial. When consideration is given to the fact that most major decisions within a family are made by the wife, who also usually controls the household budget it feels that the skill set that is natural to women, empathy, listening skills, looking at the bigger picture, impact on people etc are being missed. The fight to be seen and heard in the noise of the boy’s club is too much. There is always that network that jobs go to without even being advertised or they go through the motions already knowing who they are appointing.”

What have been your greatest challenges through Covid-19 to you and/or your business as we now come out of the other side?

“My role was made redundant due to the impact of Covid-19 on the income. It has given me the opportunity to take time to reflect and look at what is important to my values. Due to the Brilliant Women programme and the group of women I worked on it with, it has given me the belief to run my own business. I have grown enough to believe in myself, and my ability, knowledge and skill set can support businesses in whatever sector. I love it.”

‘I wanted to be more than a BDM, but I lacked the confidence’

Alison Martinez
Alison Martinez - operations manager, Hawthorn

“I’ve worked on and off in the sector for the last 29 years, starting as a barmaid to earn a little cash. I joined Bass as an office manager, before progressing to a business development manager (BDM) position with Bass lease after two years – moving from London to the Midlands to get the opportunity. 

“I spent five years with Bass Lease/Punch before moving to Brulines (now Vianet) in a sales role where I had the opportunity to work with all the major pub companies. 

“I did a stint at Vianet in the coffee sector before going back into pub operations with Admiral.  I was offered a position working as a commercial director with an ex-colleague at Vianet working in the tyre industry, but after a year I realised I was born to work in pubs and took a position with Hawthorn Community Pub Company as a BDM 16 months ago and I am now operations manager for the Midlands responsible for 120 pubs.”

What was it that attracted you to the Brilliant Women boardroom programme?

“I was stuck in my career. I’d done really well at Vianet as volume recovery director, but found myself stuck as a BDM with Admiral and although my job title at Tough Tech was commercial director, that was in name only. 

“I wanted to be more than a BDM in the pub industry, but I lacked the confidence to push myself forward for higher positions, and just couldn’t see a way forward to progress within operations.  I knew I had the skills and the knowledge, but I knew I needed to change my approach and style to ‘fit in’ and to be honest find the right fit in terms of the company I was working for.”

‘There is no right or wrong way to lead’

_Linda Kennedy
Linda Kennedy - head of property, London and south division, Stonegate Pub Company

“I have worked in property within the retail and hospitality sectors for over 20 years. My current role is head of property, London, for Stonegate Group. I am passionate about pubs and have a strong interest in sustainability, climate change and decarbonisation of the hospitality and real estate sectors.”

What was it that attracted you to the Brilliant Women boardroom programme?

“With ambition and experience I wasn’t clear on my next career move nor potential pathway to director or ‘C’ suite. The programme offered insight and networking with others serious about progression and unapologetic about ambition.”

What was the biggest ‘aha’ moment from the programme and how has that impacted your day-to-day work and home life?

“There were 3 things for me.

“I now realise that when I feel uncomfortable or uneasy in a situation it is normally because others are trying to impose their ‘values’ on me. Just recognising this has helped me deal with challenge immensely and knowing what my own values are critical in this.

“That there is no right or wrong way to lead – there is only ‘your’ way. So, authenticity along with understanding your personal style and understanding how the individuals in your team respond is really important so that you can bring the best out of them. 

“Realising this was a really safe space. We have become each others’ biggest cheerleaders – celebrating successes and supporting when things aren’t going so well.” 

How would you describe this programme to other women in business?

“It’s not about alienating men. However, women tend to lead from a values position and when like-minded women come together it is very powerful and supportive. A strong networking opportunity. Time to focus on developing or honing skills and sharing of experience. If you have been very inward looking it gives you a chance to explore with a more outward looking perspective

One piece of advice for other women who are thinking of asking for or investing in development for themselves?

“Do it now! No one else will drive your development, its personal to you! It’s also important to find the right support that is tailored to what brings out the best in you. This may not be your current employer’s development programme.”

‘I may never find my ‘tribe’ so I need to go away and create one’

Angela Malik-Agarwal
Angela Malik-Agarwal – founder and CEO Planet Nourish and partner at Think Hospitality Consultancy

“I switched from chartered accountant to professional chef over two decades ago and my journey has been an epic ride across the UK food, hospitality and tech industries. My portfolio of roles includes culinary educator, serial entrepreneur, social innovator and government adviser.  

“I’m the founder and CEO of digital health tech company Planet Nourish and a partner at Think Hospitality, a boutique strategy consultancy.”

What was the biggest ‘aha’ moment from the programme and how has that impacted your day-to-day work and home life?

“I had a few light bulb moments that have had a positive impact on the growth of my business and myself.

“Jackie recommended we read Mary Portas’ book Work Like A Woman​. I took a lot away from this book but one big thing was, I may never find my ‘tribe’ so I need to go away and create one. That’s exactly what I have done, found business partners like me and am now seeking angel investment for my new venture, Planet Nourish.

“How to have impact and influence – I learned to listen more attentively, join the dots, hear beyond the words and select my time to speak, a great leader is often the last to speak and not the first. This has transformed my work as a consultant and in life.”

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