This post was my very first blog in August 2013. It is as relevant today as it was then.

"I’ve heard some things this week that triggered reflection of the last 18 years and got me thinking about perception.

Whilst on the commute to London on Monday morning, I overheard a man talking on his phone who uttered the line “I shout at you to motivate you”

My mouth aghast, that anyone could even think this way, it got me thinking about all the managers I had worked for over the years and what, specifically, they said or did that motivated me to  perform. I have come to the conclusion that, as nice as some of them were; some were equally as awful, the one thing that has motivated me all these years was myself.

All the praise and encouragement in the world will be for nothing if you don’t have the fire in your belly to begin with. You have to want to succeed, for whatever reason;  to provide for your family, to climb the corporate ladder, to prove to the doubters that you can, those that said “they’ll never amount to anything”, the Careers Advisor at school who suggested  work experience should be at the local Kwik Save. The list could go on.

I didn’t chose the Industry that I am in. I spent teenage years in Foster Care and left school with nothing so I got a job in a bar. “Of course I was 18” – fingers crossed behind my back and my little job in a working man’s club began.

I loved it. Yes, I thought I couldn’t do anything else….I’d had years of people telling me so. Who was I to doubt them, they were the adults.

When I did turn of legal age, I headed to the High St in town to work in the “Big Bars”. WOW! I was blown away by the fun we had and I was still being paid. This is crazy, right; who gets paid to have fun? It was a year before a manager tapped me on the shoulder and told me I was going on a course. How exciting….so many questions I had; what was the course, why was I picked to go on it, was I not any good at my job that I needed training? Turns out it was Team Leader Development workshop and when I returned I was made Supervisor. How proud I was. I had my little star to prove that I was good at my job. I still have that star. It reminds me that someone took a chance on me when many thought differently.

The years moved on and I developed quickly. On job projects, off job workshops, reliefs; training became a way of life. My first Manager role still had me doubting myself but here I was running one of the busiest pubs on the area. The Head of HR approached me the following year and asked if I would like to go on secondment to the Training Team in Head Office and roll out the latest brand across the country. I’d have snapped their hand off for that chance. The life of a pre-opening trainer began. Living out of the boot of my car, AFD’s and a diet of pro-plus and energy drink (not recommended by the way but it kept me awake)

Life in HR was for me. I missed Ops but I’d found my calling. The training and development continued, I moved Company and the progression ramped up; Training Manager, Head of L&D, Group HR Manager, People Director. And still not one qualification to my name.

One day someone mentioned the CIPD – “the who?” was my response. Rather than go back “to school”, I undertook an Experience Assessment to map over my knowledge to the Professional Standard. OMG, I actually did know what I was talking about (there was me thinking I’d winged it all these years) and CIPD status was approved.

I did go back to Uni in 2011 to undertake my CIPD HR Management qualification – what an eye opener. What it proved to me is that experience, life skills and corporate exposure is far more valuable than a bit of paper to say that, academically, you know your subject. I know many will disagree, and that’s fine, but I believe that I have been better prepared and more able to perform in my current role because of my experience, not what I sat through at Uni.

This blog is all about perception. The perception that someone will not amount to much because of their upbringing. The perception that just because you work in a bar, you are not capable of doing anything else. The perception that you need to be motivated by your line manager to make you perform. It’s about time we changed that perception.

Hospitality can offer a long term career. I can vouch for that.  We are one of a few countries that do not see Hospitality as a serious career and that makes me sad.

It can be. Amazing work is being done right now by The Hospitality Guild and Pub and Bar Careers to offer 15,000 work placements which will get young people not only into work, but on a career path within Hospitality. I truly hope that, like me, they will fall in love with the industry and realise that it is so much more than just a bar job"