Category: Stonegate Stories

Introducing Gemma Gallon, Brand Trainer

This week for Stonegate Stories, we caught up with Gemma, our brand trainer for Slug & Lettuce. She detailed how she decided against following the common Area Manager career path and instead is paving the way in a brand new role!


Can you tell us a little about your current role and how long you’ve been with Stonegate Group?

I joined Stonegate from Spirit Group over 8 years ago as the General Manager of Missoula Nottingham, then moved to Missoula Milton Keynes, and more recently to Slug & Lettuce Lincoln. I was awarded GM of the Year for Slug & Lettuce, 2021/22.

At the start of 2023, I got asked to head up the role of Slug & Lettuce Brand Trainer, a new role that would develop over the year with a focus on impacting team and guest measures.

 

Tell us about your journey with Stonegate, from where you started out to now.

I was asked to join Stonegate as an experienced general manager and have always championed the area team engagement roles. I’ve been the GM Christmas Champion and Sales Focus Champion; I really enjoy being able to do my favourite parts of my GM role on a larger scale.

My progression after GM came from my desire to not go down to the normal Area Manager route that so many take. Due to this, I was asked to join Stonegate’s female mentoring programme to help me get a broader view of where my career could go. I buddied up with the lovely Jim Grey, who helped me really believe I could move on to anything I wished, but it had to be right for me. Jim listened to me, guided me through my very first presentation to a group, and helped me work out what role was important to me outside of being a GM.

Following my end-of-year appraisal, I was then buddied up with Kate Wilton as a mentor, who organised many 1:2:1s with the heads of different departments to help me gain knowledge of how the wider Stonegate departments work and where my next move could be.
Over the years of working under the Slug & Lettuce umbrella, I’ve had many conversations about how a hard brand needs structured new starter training, with a focus on cocktail training and tailored investment training. During these conversations, I always made sure to mention that if this were to happen, I would be interested in supporting.

 

Can you describe what a typical day or week looks like in your role?

My week varies a lot; however, a typical week would include…

  • Updating the division on the Bar Stars (in-house trainers).
  • Running new Bar Star training sessions.
  • Visiting sites to sign off and accredit new Bar Stars.
  • Running & Connect sessions (our brand standard service).
  • Site audits on bar set-up.
  • Slug & Lettuce investment meetings.
  • Writing training sessions.
  • Updating the Brand Trainer section on SharePoint.
  • Weekly Bar Star updates, including a focus on guest feedback.

Every Period…

  • Training spec (e.g., cocktail ingredients and measurements) changes.
  • Periodic Teams sessions with Bar Stars.
  • Setting completions.
  • Reporting to the divisional brand meetings.
  • Updating GMs on the Bar Stars activity.
  • Presenting at Comms events.
    and more…

 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Spending time with our teams, seeing their progression, and being part of it!
Feeling proud of all my Bar Stars.

 

Is there anything you wish you would’ve known before starting your job?

Changing from a GM to a field-based role has been a shock to the system; it can get lonely. However, it’s been a new experience, which has been amazing.

 

What kind of skills and life lessons do you think you’ve learned while working at Stonegate?

The last year has been the biggest learning period of my life in terms of my career. I’ve learned a lot about myself and have pushed myself out of my very safe comfort zone. The past 10 months have made me realise I have so much more to give, and it’s because of the amazing people I’ve had around me, my line managers, AM colleagues, and the credibility I have among the GMs in the Slug & Lettuce brand.

The Slug & Lettuce brand and culture of Stonegate have been the reasons why I have stayed with them!

 

What sort of advice would you give to someone looking to join your team?

Over the years I have been with Stonegate, it’s allowed me to be me, supported me, and allowed me to have a personality, so my advice would be to be you and work hard, as you will get the backing and the support to succeed.

 

What has been your favourite memory since working at Stonegate?

Winning a seat on the plane for the yearly Stonegate Superstars trip to South Africa in January 2023! Unbelievable experience; words do not even do the trip justice.


Are you looking for something new? Come and begin your Stonegate journey with us today!

View our current vacancies here

Meet Anand Devaiah, Senior CRM Manager

In this week’s Stonegate Stories, we hear from Anand! He takes us through how he joined Stonegate’s CRM (Customer Relationship Management) team and his time working on the development of Stonegate’s exciting new innovation, MiXR.


Please tell us your name, your current role, and how long you have been with Stonegate Group.

Anand Devaiah, Senior CRM Manager, 2 years and 4 months.

 

Can you give us your definition of CRM?

I think there are 2 ways of looking at it.

Firstly, from a sales point of view, where you’re looking at how you grow, and nurture prospects and leads into customers. Secondly, the way we use it is from a marketing point of view, to understand the ways a customer connects across all touch points within our venues and how we engage, cultivate and drive more out of them.

 

Tell us a little bit about your journey and/or progression with Stonegate.

I joined Stonegate in 2021 after completing my Masters in Digital Marketing and off the back of Covid. Things were still up in the air on openings and closings and lockdowns, but part of the reason I joined was to launch a new CRM platform for the business. Over the year, we landed a huge digital project on time and within budget to allow the business to start becoming more personalised in its approach. Since then, we have gone from strength to strength, beating our year 1 target by 100% and have grown the team from 1 to 7.

While doing all this, I was also seconded onto a project to work on MiXR and launch that as the technical lead from a digital perspective. MiXR is an app that gives our team and guests a brand-new way to experience all of our 800+ pubs, bars, and venues in our managed business. It enables guests to explore and book all of our venues and to earn loyalty points every time they visit a Stonegate venue.
Find out more about MiXR here.

I’ve also recently been promoted to Senior CRM Manager.

 

Can you describe what the day-to-day looks like in your role?

Day to day is quite varied; a lot of my time is spent digging into the data of what our sends look like (such as email and SMS) and how they are affecting sales in sites. We also think about how we can optimise the customer-facing communications to drive more conversions into the funnel. My time is split between managing the CRM strategy for the business and working with the Heads of Marketing to align our strategy with theirs. Then we are also working on driving the MiXR strategy across digital as well.

 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

No day is the same, which I’m sure a lot of people say, but it really is so varied. CRM, for me, is the beating heart of a business. We can really connect with our guests in a more personalised way, and I’ve built a really great team that smashes it on a daily basis.

 

What kind of skills do you think you’ve learned while working at Stonegate?

I’ve learned how to project-manage effectively and manage my time better too.

 

What’s your favourite thing about working at Stonegate?

I think my favourite thing is the people. I’ve met so many great people along the way and learned so much from everyone around me.

 

What advice would you give to someone thinking of applying for a role with Stonegate?

Go for it! The people are great, and we own some fantastic sites and brands across the whole of the country.


Are you ready to begin your Stonegate journey? Check out our current vacancies now!

 View our current vacancies

Introducing Andy McLaren, Deputy Manager

Meet Andy McLaren, a fantastic Deputy Manager based at The Triplekirks, Aberdeen. Andy shares his perspective on his 6 years with Stonegate Group and his rapid progression, from part-time bartender to Deputy Manager. He’s poised to take on his first General Manager appointment, following a successful stint on Stonegate’s award-winning development programme.


Can you tell us what a typical day in your role looks like?

I am the current stock, fraud, and Rep.com (our guest feedback software) champion for my area. So, I continuously check, reply to, and post incentives for named reviews. I am responsible for checking the ‘clear and void’ reports via our tills and have a weekly leader board for the team. Stock take occurs every Monday with line checks daily and I post the results on our staff chat and team boards in the staff room. I also ensure the team follow the guest service cycle, with a hello to every customer and coach the next generation of ATOP (Albert’s Theory of Progression – our internal development programme) staff towards greatness.

I’m also learning anything I can from my current GM in preparation for my first GM role within Stonegate. After completing Accelerator, I’m responsible for keeping the energy and morale up among the team.

 

Can you describe your journey with Stonegate, from where you started out to your current role?

When I came back to Stonegate in late 2021 after a 2-year break, I was a part-time bartender at The Rule in St. Andrews. I quickly progressed into a DM role within 6 months and went straight onto the Accolade course, designed for DMs with the desire and ability to progress to GM. I was signed off in January 2023.

From there, I was enrolled on the Accelerator programme in April 2023. It’s a 6-month programme created for DMs with the aim of becoming newly appointed general managers within 12 months. I then took on my first external hold at The Triplekirks in Aberdeen for 5 weeks. Loving this new venture so much, when the new GM joined in June, I opted to stay on as her deputy.

After graduating Accelerator with a 5-star award in August, my next step is to jump into my first GM role. During my appraisal in November, I was told that my current GM will be preparing me to take over her role by May 2024.

 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Hospitality has been my passion since I was young. I love meeting new people and ensuring customers receive the best with each and every visit. I enjoy learning the ins and outs of each venue I’ve worked in, and love helping people realise their potential and coaching them through their own journey.

 

Is there anything you wish you would’ve known before starting your job?

I wish that I had been made more aware of the ATOP development programme in my previous role at Stonegate. Leaving the company for 2 years was my biggest setback, but I have no regrets, as I think I learned some valuable lessons. There are still more training programmes and courses to attend, and I look forward to continuing my ATOP journey.

 

What kind of skills and life lessons do you think you’ve learned while working at Stonegate?

I have learned so much through my ATOP journey that I would be typing here for hours, so the top 4 things are as follows:

  • How to properly coach team members and that each person learns and listens in a different way. It’s easy to teach people but coaching them in a way that makes them shine is most important.
  • Really to not get stressed about things. I used to get stressed really easily, and I wouldn’t slow down to take a breath and look at things from a different perspective. Instead of complaining about things, I see myself talking about the problems in my work life and outside of work.
  • I’ve learned a lot about myself too—to take each challenge head-on and not be afraid to ask for help. For too long, I would struggle with tasks and ignore the ones I couldn’t do. Now, I have a great support system in my previous and current GM, my previous area manager, and the current holding AM, as well as the other GMs and DMs in my area. They have all really helped me reach my full potential. There’s always more to learn.
  • To take a break. You really need those days off. Accelerator taught me to take 48 hours away from work and away from work chats. Once I did that, it was great. I came back so refreshed and ready for another week, so I now ensure I have little contact with work (unless important) on my days off.

 

What sort of advice would you give to someone looking to join your team? Are there any particular skills that you feel are needed?

No question is a stupid question. Ask for help. Listen.

We are all here to help, and we aren’t scary. Mistakes happen, and most of the time, they’re easily rectified. We are a team, sometimes a family. So, own your mistakes and learn from them together. I also think the best skills are a smile and a friendly attitude. Customers reciprocate this most of the time.

 

What has been your favourite memory since working at Stonegate?

My Accelerator graduation. It was amazing seeing my cohort and meeting the other 2 cohorts, as well as seeing how they’ve all progressed and hearing their journeys since starting with Stonegate. To me, it’s amazing to see even the progression from the first course of Accelerator to the final presentation.

 

What has been or is your biggest challenge in your role at Stonegate? How have you learned to overcome it?

I think one of the biggest challenges we see now within the industry is finding a strong core team. The late nights and unsociable hours often deter a lot of people. I think the only way to overcome it is to keep the energy high. Show people that it’s fun to work in hospitality and keep the staff motivated with rewards, incentives, and nights out. We work hard, but we can also have fun and play hard.


Can you tell us some interesting facts about yourself?

To most people, finding out I was born in Germany is very interesting. My dad was in the Air Force when I was growing up, so we moved around a lot. I think that is why I enjoy meeting new people so much. I have a natural ability to fit myself into any team or group of people.

Andy, DM smiling in front of progression banner. Andy, DM posing on the bar top Andy, DM with Tim Painter, Stonegate Group's HR Director


Looking to join us? Take a look at our current vacancies and raise a glass to your future at Stonegate Group!

View our current vacancies

Meet Abbie Lawrie, Marketing Manager

Take a peek behind the Stonegate curtain and hear from the fabulous Abbie, Marketing Manager for Slug & Lettuce! Abbie has spent an impressive ten years with us and tells us about her experience on Stonegate Group’s female mentoring programme.


Can you tell us how you came to join Stonegate?

I started off looking for part-time bar work while I was at university; however, I have stayed with the business for so long due to great career progression opportunities, a willingness to develop people, and being able to work with such an amazing team of people.

 

What do you enjoy most about working at Stonegate?

I would say the relationships I have made with people not only in my direct team but also in the wider team is something I really enjoy about working at Stonegate. There is a real team atmosphere, and I’ve made some lifelong friendships from my time at Stonegate.

 

What kind of education did your career require?

There are no specific education requirements, so I wouldn’t see education as a barrier to entry; however, a bachelor’s degree is often preferred.

 

How has your career progressed or changed during your time at Stonegate?

I started my career as a part-time bar team member, and through progression opportunities, I’ve now developed into a marketing manager for the same brand I started working for over ten years ago!

 

What advice would you give your younger self?

I think I would like to tell my younger self to be confident in your abilities and not to let self-doubt hold you back.

 

Can you tell us a bit about your experience as part of Stonegate’s female mentoring programme?

I was nominated by my line manager to be a part of the programme and had the opportunity to be mentored. It is a great way to create relationships with a senior manager in the business you wouldn’t normally interact with on a day-to-day basis who can offer advice from a new perspective.

My mentor was also from another part of the business, which gave me some fascinating insight into an aspect of the business I would not normally be involved in. It allowed me to broaden my understanding of the business as a whole.

My mentor also had a vast knowledge of working with people, so they gave me some really valuable advice while also pushing me to challenge and develop myself.

 

What advice would you give someone who is interested in the programme or is currently taking part?

I would say to use the programme as an opportunity to develop your relationship with your mentor. Make sure to ask questions; they are a fantastic resource to use as a sounding board for things you might not usually discuss with your own line manager.

I had such a great experience on the programme, and my mentor was amazing; they encouraged me to apply for my current role, so it’s an invaluable resource if you are thinking about career progression.


What excites you the most about your work?

My role allows me to be creative and innovative. I love being able to propose and explore new ideas, and collaborate with my team. I’m always looking for the next new thing!


Do you have any advice for anyone interested in getting into your department or job role?

I would say that digital marketing should definitely be at the forefront of everything you do. A key part of my role is focused on digital strategies and innovation, so it’s important to always keep this in mind for campaigns.


What skills are required in your day-to-day?

Marketing is fast-paced and always changing, so you have to have the ability to think on your feet, be flexible, and have excellent time management skills. Along with this, there are a lot of people skills involved in my role. I interact with different people from all different departments daily, so I have to have strong communication. I would also say you need to be able to multi-task. There are a lot of moving parts to executing a campaign, so it’s important to stay on top of them!

 

Finally, what do you love the most about your job?

I love being able to see through a project from start to finish. It’s really rewarding to take something from an idea, create a concept, and develop it into a fully-fledged campaign that I can then see implemented on site.

Meet Martin, Kitchen Manager

Curious minds, meet an individual with an impressive 8-year and 1-day journey at Stonegate. Join us as Martin pulls back the curtain on life as a Kitchen Manager with Stonegate, offering a glimpse into daily operations, the company ethos, and the invaluable insights that have fostered their personal and professional growth.

If you’re an experienced Kitchen Manager or Kitchen Team Leader who’s ready to cook up a storm in a career you love, then you’re in the perfect place. We’re hiring across all of our brands and formats.

Find out more

How long have you been working at Stonegate, and what has kept you here for that duration?

I’ve being working for Stonegate for 8 years 1 day.

The love of my job has kept me here for so long, but more importantly it’s the people I have and currently work with that makes my time here enjoyable.

What do you like about working at Stonegate?

The people I work with are generally nice and respectful. Its so important that we treat each other with respect, and respect the right of others to learn new things in their own time. Having patience with people who generally do want to learn but appear to need more time to adjust to things.

Can you tell us about a typical day in your role at Stonegate?

A typical day would look like this:

  • First thing check fridge and freezer temps are all good and record in book
  • Check all products in date from previous night
  • Cascade oil in fryers if required
  • Turn all equipment on required for the day
  • Set kitchen up (utensils etc)
  • Start prepping items from prep list
  • Do a Food order if required
  • Check emails
  • Check out of stocks with front of house on tills
  • After lunch (2pm) fire fight any issues, maintenance, staff etc.

On a Typical Monday I would do a stock count on food and go through reports with my GM. We would have a Managers meeting on Mondays also.

What is the company culture like at Stonegate, and how does it support your growth and development?

The company’s culture here is pretty good, we are allowed to express our feelings without the thought of any bias.

My personal growth and development has being through the Evolution work shop scheme. This has allowed me to grow within the company, learning new things that has enabled me to pass on my knowledge and expertise to others who want to learn and grow within the company.

Recently I have taken up a new role as Area chef support helping other KMs in their roles.

What hints and tips can you share with those who are considering applying for a job at Stonegate?

  • Be yourself
  • Be respectful
  • Be honest
  • Be willing to learn and adapt to change
  • Be aware that the opportunity to get to where you want to be is in your hands, you will have the support and guidance along the way just as long a you are willing to put the effort in yourself.

If you’re an experienced Kitchen Manager or Kitchen Team Leader who’s ready to cook up a storm in a career you love, then you’re in the perfect place. We’re hiring across all of our brands and formats.

Find out more

 

 

Joshua – Property Support Coordinator

What is your Job Role and how long have you worked for the company?

I am a property support coordinator working with contractors and looking after our pubs.

I have been working with Stonegate since I left school, so I came straight from education into this role, I had no previous experience. Now, I have been working with the company for five months.

Education/Experience

I think Stonegate is more interested in who you are as a person, and how you will integrate with the team. Education is still important, but I don’t think you need that (certain grades) to succeed in this role. I did well in my GCSE’s, so I found myself in a good position leaving school and going to work but, I found that the subjects I studied were not the main focus for this job.

What attracted you to Stonegate?

I wasn’t ever really considering Uni I just wanted to get straight into work, and then I saw Stonegate on Facebook and LinkedIn which really attracted me to find out more. I had also heard a lot of good things from people who worked here and how there was a lot of different avenues I could go down in my career working with the company. It made me think this is what I want to get into and so this would be the best fit for me.

Hands on experience of the industry

Coming straight from education and working in pubs during that time, I was interested in getting into the side of the industry that looks after the pubs. In my first couple of weeks, I was given hands-on experience by being taken to some of our pubs and being shown around the cellar and the back of house. This gave me a better idea of what I would be supporting our pub teams with day to day. When I joined, I didn’t have much experience with a lot of aspects of property maintenance but being able to go out and learn from the people I would be supporting helped me understand so much more.

What excites you most about your job?

Every day is different; you never know what you are going to come into. No day is ever the same which is something I would look for in my career. You could come in one morning to a critical issue at one of your pubs and have to react quickly, you can never predict it, and that always keeps the job interesting.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Just do it! I haven’t looked back since I got into this role. I didn’t know at first how I would feel going straight from school to an office-based job, but I haven’t looked back since. I have loved every second of it and I haven’t had any doubts since I joined Stonegate.

How do you feel about working for Stonegate Group as a company and the atmosphere?

The ethos is great, everyone’s friendly, you will get along with everyone. When I came in, I was 18, so I was the youngest by far, my team welcomed me straight away, no one looked at me as if I was just a kid.

There’s a great social aspect too. We take our jobs seriously, but we also know how to have a laugh it’s not just all, constantly, having to be on it, there’s room to make friends and enjoy coming to work.

Career progression

Stonegate always helps you see the path ahead, and there are lots of different things you can do. This includes a great range of in-house training and apprenticeships you can do. There are different options to help you find whatever suits you and help you succeed in your career working with Stonegate.