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.
- 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.
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!