Loving Life in Hospitality – Ruth Jackson, Head of HR, Premier Inn

07 December 2012
Loving Life in Hospitality – Ruth Jackson, Head of HR, Premier Inn

Ruth Jackson, head of HR, Premier Inn

How did you find your way into the hospitality industry? By chance I got a job in a pub while studying for a degree in human biology at Leeds University. I had intended to go into medicine but I loved the buzz of hospitality so decided to make it a full time career. I ran my own bar in Leeds City centre financial district within a few years of graduating.

Did anyone try to put you off? Not put me off as such, but my parents were a little dubious when I told them. They are very proud of me now though.

What are you doing now and how did you get there? After many enjoyable years in operations I got the chance to go into HR, which is amazing as I get to focus full time on the people, helping them with their careers and development in hospitality.

Another area I work on is employee engagement, which fascinates me. I am a big believer in finding the job that you love, which will make you happy both at work and at home. Let's face it; most of us have to work to live, so it is all the more fulfilling doing it in a job you love. Enjoying your job means you gain in confidence and can be the absolute best you can be. That's what I want to help people to do.

I also get to be involved in our corporate social responsibility agenda, helping local communities get back into work, especially now in these times of high youth unemployment. It is important that young people can see there are chances out there for them.

Have you had a mentor along the way?

What do you love most about your job? There are so many exciting opportunities but the best bit is being able to give people a chance of a rewarding career. We constantly need more great people for our sites and I know we can give them the learning and development that will help them to achieve their goals both personally and professionally.

What has your hospitality salary allowed you to do?
I was able to buy my first house in Leeds when I was appointed as general manager in my early twenties. Since then I have bought a second house and I am fortunate enough to be able to go on some great holidays. My weakness is shoes and handbags and I do get to indulge in that too!

What do you hope to achieve in your career in the future?
I want to be a senior leader in hospitality. It would be great to see even more women on the boards of companies and I hope to do that. I loved being in operations and have really found my niche working in HR. I consider myself very lucky to be doing a job I love so much.

Do you think TV shows help or hinder when it comes to recruiting new young talent to the industry? I think it can help young 
people to recognise hospitality as a career option. The challenge is to ensure that it is not just about the high end celebrity chefs that go on to have their own TV shows and Michelin-starred restaurants. That is great but there is so much more to hospitality and so many career choices.

Would you recommend the industry to others? Absolutely. The variety is there and it is an exciting and vibrant sector. The opportunities to progress are there for the taking. No matter what your interest is - be it marketing, finance, operations, HR or customer service - there is a role for everyone.

My grounding in operations meant I was able to move into HR and be a true business partner because I really understand the challenges the operators face. I can work with them on solutions that will actually be effective in the 
field; not just dreamt up in an office somewhere.

CV Highlights

â- 1995-2000 - barmaid and assistant manager, Whitbread pubs and restaurants
â- 2000-2002 - general manager, Casa bar, Leeds
â- 2002-2010 - regional operations manager, Whitbread Hotels and Restaurants
â- 2010-present - HR manager, resourcing manager and now head of HR, Premier Inn, Whitbread Hotels & Restaurants

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