The Big Interview: Expect the unexpected

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Hop in your DeLorean: Adam Mayers is going Back to the Future
Hop in your DeLorean: Adam Mayers is going Back to the Future

Related tags Hydes brewery Big Interview Adam Mayers Brewing Pubco + head office Multi-site pub operators

No one expects a pub boss to talk about TV shows and films from the 1980s but Hydes Brewery managing director Adam Mayers does.

The thing that causes most pressure for the rugby-loving Welshman in his job is uncertainty.

He explains: “The biggest pressure is always from uncertainty and the unexpected occurring.

“Whether it comes from people, outside events, the Government, it doesn’t matter where it comes from, uncertainty really creates pressure in your job.

“The key to managing it is to be control the controllables but be prepared for the unexpected spanner in the works.

“You can never be fully prepared but expect the unexpected… remember the old TV show Tales of the Unexpected​? We’ve all got to be like that.”

Mayers qualified as a chartered accountant many years ago and moved around various industries until he joined Hydes in 2009 as finance director.

He says there were some challenges in that department that he fixed while taking a very active role in the business for the best part of 10 years before being promoted to managing director.

He’s had plenty of highlights in his career to date from receiving his professional qualification as a chartered accountant, promotion to his first management position, completing various acquisitions and on to becoming a director and, ultimately, the Hydes manging director.

“There’s a lot of highlights but I’d like to think there are a lot more to come,” He states.

“Anybody who’s got a family knows that sometimes it’s chaotic and sometimes it isn’t.”

However, the lockdowns during Covid were a low point for him. He says: “I took over as MD and it was so uncertain and difficult to know how things were going to go in the future. We got through it but it was a big low light because we didn’t know where we were going.

“Other low points include going through various restructures of companies and, unfortunately, I’ve had to make people redundant – that’s never easy.”

Be 100% present

Being a family man, Mayers has a strict ethos on balancing family and work lives.

“It’s easy to lose sight of what’s important when you’re busy with work,” he begins. “The best way to balance this is to be 100% present wherever you are. If you are with your family, be with your family. If you’re working, be at work.

“The most important thing is to not take your work home with you and don’t try to bring your family into work.

“Anybody who’s got a family knows that sometimes it’s chaotic and sometimes it isn’t.”

Not a lot has surprised him in his role of managing director.

“We all make mistakes, just don’t do it again so I wouldn’t do anything differently.”

“When you’ve been in our industry or been in other industries over time, you see a lot come up. People never cease to surprise you but does it really shock me? No, I’ve become slightly immune to that over time.”

Looking back on his career, he has made errors but will not lose sleep over them because everyone makes mistakes he says and while they are there to be reflected upon so they don’t happen again, dwelling on them isn’t productive.

“Move on, what’s done is done. You can’t change it, so it doesn’t matter.”

In reference to the 1985 film Back to the Future​, he adds: “If you had a DeLorean, you’d go back in time and be a billionaire, wouldn’t you?!

“We all make mistakes, just don’t do it again so I wouldn’t do anything differently.”

This leads into discussion about his biggest achievements.

Mayers says: “I don’t think I have any single achievement that, I’d say, defines me be it home life, work life, sporting life, whatever.

“In the past 12 months, we’ve had a great year at Hydes. We’ve recently opened the Harry Beswick pub in Hesburgh, in the Wirral, which was a culmination of a lot of hard work by the Hydes team.

“If you constantly focus on what you’ve achieved, it means you’re sitting on your laurels and not focusing on the next challenge. You can reflect on that when you retire and, hopefully, that’s not for a while for me.

“I’m not an achievement-orientated person. I don’t run around saying I’ve done this or I’ve done that. If you focus on, say, one individual thing you’ve done, that can define you as a person.”

There’s advice for those starting out and eyeing a role like Mayers’. The first thing he would say is for the person to ask themselves why they want to do it and what’s driving them on because if they don’t truly have the correct motivation, they won’t achieve anything in their career or even their life.

He adds: “You might not really want to do it or make the sacrifices in order to do it but if you’ve got the motivation and the ability, you’ll work out how to do it.

“It doesn’t really matter what my pathway was or what any other’s pathway was – everybody is different.”

“The biggest thing I do to help with my leadership and with work is, I like to go out for a beer."

Such hopefuls may want to listen to three things Mayers does in his personal life that helps his work life.

“The first one is exercise and sport,” he states. “I’m pretty active. I go to the gym and I play tennis to unwind. I never used to but I’m getting old. I used to play rugby a bit and play golf.

“The other thing I do is read a lot. I like books about people. I like reading about what motivates other people because it helps you to understand how people tick.

“The biggest thing I do to help with my leadership and with work is, I like to go out for a beer.

“Being out and about and seeing other people and finding out what they’re doing is always good and it’s going to help in my role.

“If I can see what other people are doing well then I can follow what they’re doing. The key to being a good leader is using all your life experience to understand how you treat people.

“It’s also about seeing how people are moving around a pub or bar, what they like at the bar and finding other ways in which you could improve the experience and see how the staff are working with what they do well and what they don’t do well.

“You can also work out how you can encourage people to do better. This is one of the most important things that you can do in this role – to actually live it and be part of it.”

Burden is not all yours

And loneliness plays no part in Mayers’ role because if someone in a leadership position feels that way, they must have isolated themselves.

Mayers says: “You should always be able to talk to the people around you and, if you haven’t built a good team, you’re going to be lonely.

“You have to make hard decisions sometimes but you shouldn’t feel like all the burden is yours. That is not how leadership should work.”

“Ultimately, you have to back yourself and take a giant leap of faith to succeed.”

The man at the top of Hydes Brewery, which operates pubs and brews beers including Hydes Original amber ale 3.8% ABV, 1863 3.5% ABV, Dark Ruby 3.5% ABV and Lowry 4.7% ABV, is willing to offer help to burgeoning pub groups and breweries that want to grow.

“The key thing to any business whether you’re large or small or anything is do what you do well and continue to do so it well and be excellent at it,” he starts.

“If you don’t do that, you’re going to fail. If you’ve got a particular theme such as if you do well in the pub, do that, if you do food well in the pub, do pub, if you’re great at cask ale, do that.

“Ask yourself why do you want to grow? Is it for ego, is it for wealth? If you don’t know why you’re growing, you’re going to fail.

“The next thing is to plan and plan and plan again and have a back-up plan when that plan doesn’t work because no matter what you do, you need to be prepared for growing and there will be plenty of things you don’t think about when you start expanding.

“Ultimately, you have to back yourself and take a giant leap of faith to succeed.”

On good leadership, he has three qualities that one must have and reveals what excellent leadership looks like.

He says: “Have a clear sense of direction and guiding principles – that’s the first thing I would say. You’ve got to know where you want to go and you’ve got to have some principles to get there.

“The next thing is to know when to listen and when to speak and prepared to change your views after you’ve listened and you’ve spoken, you could be wrong.

“The last thing is to understand that you’re only as good as the people around you. You can be great at what you do and great at decision making but if you haven’t got good people around who are supporting you, then you will fail.”

On how to measure the quality of a top leader he states it’s about ‘good outcomes’.

He explains: “What would a good outcome mean? It could mean the financial results, it could be a good net promoter score, it could be a good employee promoter score, it could be somebody say ‘I really enjoyed myself’.

“It could be all those things but a good outcome is what excellent leadership means to me. It means whatever decisions I’ve made, it’s resulted in a good outcome.

“You have to be goal-oriented as a leader. There’s got to be some objective to what you do. Whatever those goals are, achieving them should means you’re an excellent leader. It shouldn’t just be about you but it should be what you’re aiming for and achieving it.”

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