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How I got here

28 July 2004
How I got here

Gwyn Kennett, 31, heads up the resourcing side of Whitbread-owned coffee giant Costa in the UK. This includes recruitment duties for 300-plus high-street stores and outlets, as well as the company's roastery in Lambeth, London. This supplies the company's wholesale operation, which has concessions in Whitbread-owned Marriott hotels.

The company has opened 20 new stores so far this year, and there are plans to have 60 new units by the end of the year, which means Kennett is an extremely busy man.

Kennett conducts interviews for senior positions where he can, but with responsibility for the company's recruitment message and materials, the main thrust of his job is making sure the store managers have everything they need to attract people into the business.

"I tend to do 1,000 miles a week in the car," says Kennett. "It's typicallya 5am start and late finish, which can be tough."

However, he doesn't waste his commuting time, using it instead to get his thoughts in order and plan his strategy so he can devote all his energy to interviewing new recruits on location.

His favourite aspect of his role as resourcing manager is the feedback he gets after recruiting someone into the business and watching them go on to be successful.

Kennett originally cut his teeth as a manager at Bass chain Vintage Inn, before moving to Whitbread Restaurants as an area manager for Brewers Fayre & Brewsters in May 1999, with responsibility for Travel Inn.

In August 2001 Kennett took on responsibility for Project Energise as a way of stretching himself and "doing something different". The task was to oversee the sale of 44 Whitbread restaurant sites to Noble House Leisure, and Kennett said sitting around a table with 20 solicitors was intimidating but ultimately useful. It also started him "talking" with head office, rather than simply calling them when he wanted something, as he'd tended to do as a unit manager.

In March 2002 he became resourcing manager for Whitbread Restaurants, accountable for team member recruitment and Whitbread's Springboard award-winning Chef Modern Apprenticeship Programme, a responsibility he retains today.

"The project management side of the programme was highly beneficial, as previously I'd come from the background of being very operationally led. It allowed me to plan things out and to be less reactive," says Kennett.

"It was also useful as it introduced me to playing the political game that is required in any large organisation. Basically I was selling the apprenticeship programme to human resources teams across Whitbread."

Career highlights

May 1999 Joins Whitbread Restaurants as area manager, Brewers Fayre & Brewsters

March 2002
Resourcing manager, Whitbread Restaurants

February 2003 Resourcing manager, Costa

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