Rebecca has been at the helm of The Vineyard’s restaurant for over six years. Despite early ambitions of being a lawyer, she considers herself ‘very blessed’ to have embarked on her career in hospitality.
What does your day-to-day role involve?
My day-to day role involves looking after a team of approximately 18 people to make sure breakfast, lunch and dinner services run to the high standard you’d expect at The Vineyard.
I’ve been doing this role for almost six and a half years. I started as Assistant Host in 2012 and was promoted to Assistant Restaurant Manager in the May and then to Restaurant Manager in November of the same year.
What is your professional background?
I completed my A-levels and went to university in Leeds and had always intended to become a lawyer. When I left university, I wanted to take some time out to go travelling so I worked at a country pub called the Pot Kiln to fund my travels. There, I just fell in love with the industry.
When I came back from travelling, I went back to the Pot Kiln and became the Restaurant Manager there. I had always intended to go and do a conversion course to get into Law, but so many people said to me ‘you really love what you do, why would you come out of it?’ So at that point I decided that this was the career path I’d like to take and that’s when I came over to The Vineyard.
What are the most important skills in your role?
One of the most important things I think any Restaurant Manager needs to do is find a balance between guest expectations and the team expectations. I think it can be very easy to put so much focus on the guest that you forget about the people that are looking after them.
For me, it’s important that my team have a life outside of hospitality. Yes it’s important that they have the ability to develop and grow within the team, but they also need to have time for themselves as well as the company. Our guests at The Vineyard want to see happy people who are vibrant in the job roles, they want to see people who are passionate about what they do. I think in order to do that you need to look after both the guest and the staff member equally.
What do you love about your job?
I love the fact that you are constantly building relationships with people, you are constantly looking at how to make something even more special. When a guest arrives at The Vineyard, they’re not just arriving at another hotel, they’re arriving at our home. So when we are looking after our guests, it’s about getting to know them on a personal level, getting to know the reason they’ve chosen to stay here and the reason they’ve chosen to stay here now.
I want to create a hotel experience for our guests that means they want to come back because it becomes a home away from home. It’s so important to me that we build our relationships and bonds with guests as much as we do with people we work with, as much as we do with people we’ve known all of our lives. It’s good for people to return to places where they recognise faces.
What is the proudest moment in your career to date?
Winning the Caterer Award for Restaurant Manager of the Year was the proudest moment for me. It wasn’t just a reflection of the hard work I do, it was a reflection of the team around me and the property I work in. So many things have to accumulate in order to build someone up to being an award-winning restaurant manager. For me, that was my proudest moment.
What would you like to achieve in the future?
I’ve been so lucky and blessed to be able to work at The Vineyard and I have loved every moment of it. Every challenging moment is quickly followed with a rewarding moment. For me, what I want to look at now is the development of my own career. Now is the time for me to be able to develop into a higher job role. I want to become a General Manager someday and for me to do that I need to learn all of the aspects of a hotel, rather than just the food and beverage side of it.
What’s it like being a woman in hospitality?
I’m lucky enough that I don’t have to often think about the fact that I’m a woman in the industry. I most often think about the fact that I’m a head of department in the hospitality industry. There are times when potentially a guest might presume that a male colleague might be the restaurant manager, but in reality I’ve seen very little resistance about being a female head of department.
I also think we’re incredibly lucky at The Vineyard because we have so many female manager and ever since I’ve worked here we’ve been very female strong.
What do you think are the challenges for women in the industry?
One of the hardest challenges I think is trying to find the balance between career and family. For me right now, I’m not at a stage where I’m building a family, but in two, three or four years’ time that may be a possibility.
That’s where being a female Restaurant Manager can become a little tricky because you may not be able work the hours that are needed – you can’t change when lunch and dinner is. So for me that’s the biggest challenge I envision. Equally, at The Vineyard, we have many people raising families alongside their careers, so that makes me optimistic.
It may be a little harder, but there’s nothing wrong with hard.
What advice would you give to young women entering the industry?
If you have the passion and drive there is nothing stopping you. The part that you might find hardest is actually committing and telling someone that you want to go into the hospitality industry. People have got so many opinions on it – if you tell someone you want to be a doctor or a lawyer, you get a round of applause. If you tell someone that you want to be in hospitality, the reaction can often be somewhat muted.
All I can is that I come to work every day with a smile on my face and there aren’t many industries where that is the case. I come to work and I look at all of the things that I can develop and I look at all of the ways that I can develop other people in the team. Looking back at my younger self, I’ve never regretted the decision that I made. I’m blessed to do what I do.