4-day special series by Nicola Walker
There are so many amazing women who end up working in the hospitality industry by accident. I started out as a DJ whilst at university and moved quickly onto a management role in a bar. I was one of the few women doing this, but I never saw this as an issue, it was what made me different. I loved the industry, the people, and the fact that every day is different. After years as a GM, I have now moved on again, this time to writing, albeit still in the same industry. We should be encouraging people to look at hospitality as a career rather than a fall-back option. There are so many different jobs within the industry, and so, I set out to interview inspirational women in varying roles. My conversations with them were interesting, inspiring, and filled with positivity about the licensed trade. If there was ever an advert to motivate young people into the trade, then this is it.
Agie Tomasik – GM at The Smokin’ Fox, Glasgow
Agie’s work ethic and desire to succeed is obvious. When she arrived in Scotland from Poland 17 years ago, she spoke no English at all, hard to believe as she now chats fluently with a distinctive Scottish twang. Her first job in Scotland was as a glass collector, whilst working a second job in a chicken factory. It was here, while watching the bar staff and managers, she decided that she wanted to make it in the hospitality industry.
She worked her way up to bar staff, supervisor and eventually management. Just over a year ago she became GM at The Smokin’ Fox, owned by Signature Pubs, and in her words “it’s been incredible”. She adds, “You have to be a people person. You aren’t just managing a venue, you are managing a team so it’s all about uplifting people, leading, and motivating that team.”
Agie is incredibly proud of what she has achieved at The Smokin’ Fox but credits her team with a lot of the success, “I could be the best manager in the world but if I don’t have great a team behind me then I couldn’t do it. The best way to support people is to let them be themselves and achieve success, that’s what Signature Pubs have done for me. They are always pushing you to be innovative and giving you the time and the tools to do so.
“A good manager leads by example and treats the venue as their own. That’s what I’ve always been told. My family has retail businesses in Poland and I’ve always been told wherever you go, whatever you do, just treat it like as your own, and it will be successful. If you want to achieve something, then just go for it.”
What attracted Agie to hospitality is the pace at which you can move up the ladder, she says “it can be a fast career if you have the right attitude and work ethic. If you are keen to learn, then anything else can be taught. The door is open for young people, we already have 2 duty managers under the age of 25 who I can trust and are doing a great job.”
Sara Corrieri – Brand Development Manager at Hi-Spirits
Sara began her career in hospitality working as part-time waitress at her family’s fish and chip shop whilst at university, where she studied International Business with Italian. She moved on to Café Parma in Glasgow’s West End where she worked her way up to a management role. However, she still yearned for a different challenge.
It was then she moved on to Dunns Food and Drinks and began her role in sales. She stayed there for 3 years before she secured her current position with Hi-Spirits. She is a great ambassador for the licensed trade and her positive nature is clear for all to see. She shared, “I love the drinks industry and it’s important to remember that it’s such a fun, sexy industry. Sometimes we get stressed about things and need to remember what we do is exciting, innovative and every day is different.
“People need to be open-minded. When I started out I always said that I didn’t want to work in sales. Then, when I found myself working at Dunns, I realised that in the drinks industry a sales job is completely different to what I thought it would be. I love talking to people plus I like the customer interaction, Suddenly I was in a position where I thought ‘I’m good at this’. The secret is, if you have a passion for what you do, you’ll do great.”
One of her proudest moments was getting Hi-Spirits involved in sponsoring one of the Scottish Bar and Pub Awards.
She explained, “None of the previous reps had done anything like this before, and I felt we needed to be doing more within Scotland. I took on this challenge myself which involved the pre-planning, organisation on the night for our guests, and even going on stage to present the award. This definitely increased my confidence as it was something that would normally be outside my comfort zone.”