Brewing up a brilliant career

These days you don't have to be married, or middle-aged, to run a pub, writes Roger Trapp

Simon Walker started in the beer trade for much the same reasons as many other students. He wanted to earn a little money to support his college studies. But he was so taken with working in his local pub that he gave up his landscape gardening course and opted for a career in the brewing business.

"Initially, I was just looking for work. I wasn't getting a student grant. I started doing nine hours a week. But I enjoyed it so much and the prospects looked good, so I left college," he says.

A few months later, he is a full-time relief manager with Pennine Inns, a regional division of the brewing company Scottish & Newcastle, and has just completed the latest in a series of courses designed to equip him with the theory and the practical know-how to run an establishment.

"I think I've made the right decision," says Mr Walker, 25, just before setting off for his latest assignment. "I'm loving it, it's great and there are prospects for promotion."

Concerns about the future also prompted Diana Favre's move to the company. She was previously with another organisation in the food and drink business but left because she felt it provided limited opportunities for single women.

Like Mr Walker, she did not start off with one of the specialist, hospitality- type qualifications that companies like Scottish & Newcastle traditionally look for in their trainees. Having majored in housing management in her consumer-based degree, she left college in Leeds unsure of what to do. A stint helping a friend in a catering business was followed by a spell cooking in a chalet before she joined her first management trainee scheme. As she points out, she "fell into the business rather than pursued it".

Three years ago, she joined Scottish & Newcastle and is now manager of York's Old Orleans outlet, one of 18 themed bar-restaurants the group operates around the country. Moving quickly through the ranks after her traineeship, she now has a staff of 25.

Enjoying herself immensely despite her earlier experience, she is particularly impressed by what she sees as Scottish & Newcastle's open-minded attitude to who can run its outlets. "They don't stick to the old-fashioned idea that you should be a couple to manage a site," Ms Favre, 27, says.

She and Mr Walker are indicative of the variety of young manager that the company is seeking to attract. Kim Parish, management development and training director, explained that in previous years graduates had been targeted for specific functions - such as finance, information technology and personnel.

Great emphasis was also put on recruiting for the company's restaurants, but there are also, as she says, "quite a lot of graduates in pubs". With 30,000 people in 2,000 pubs around the country, there is probably at least one graduate in about half the locations, she says.

The training programme aimed at them starts with the bar staff and is linked to a national qualification. Those responsible for running the schemes are on the lookout for future managers. Clearly, they are primarily interested in those with "good people skills and outgoing personalities".

However, the much-discussed leadership abilities are also ranked highly. A clear effect of giving people early responsibility is that they must be able to motivate others and help them to develop.

Moreover, added Ms Parish: "They must have a good business head and be a good focal point in the pub, particularly a community pub." And if that is not enough, they are expected - much like most other graduate trainees these days - to be entrepreneurs.

But far from being off-putting, this level of responsibility is felt to be an advantage. Ms Parish points out that the greater freedom is attractive to those who might otherwise go into retail, where the career paths and lines of authority are generally more structured. It is not unusual for people in their early to mid-twenties to have the opportunity to make significant capital investments, she says, adding: "People in our industry can get early responsibility and a lot of discretion."

As the examples of Mr Walker and Ms Favre make clear, the company is not too strict on the backgrounds of those it feels have the potential to meet such requirements. It points out that former teachers, Royal Navy officers and shop managers are among those running its outlets.

However, it is currently operating a scheme designed for those studying for hospitality degrees that involves 12-month work placements with the promise of a job at the end. Scottish & Newcastle has also won an award for the partnerships set up through the links made with such establishments as Ulster University in Belfast, Stafford College in the Midlands and - via Norwich College - the University of East Anglia.

For those who sign up at the bottom, there appear to be a range of options. Ms Parish claims there is a tendency for staff to stay with the company. "There are a lot of opportunities to move around. They might start in a pub and move into a more food-oriented one or head office. There is huge variety."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Tottenham legend Jimmy Greaves has defended fans use of the word 'Yid'
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West, performing in New York last week, has been the subject of controversy as rock's traditional headline slot at Glastonbury is lost once again
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Executive / Digital Account Executive

£20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Digital Account Exec ...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living