1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
Pub / restaurant General Manager - oversee all aspects of the running of the business, recruitment, labour deployment, profit management, looking after and training the team, ensuring smooth tightly managed services. Ensuring adherence to the highest levels of health, hygiene and safety. Working within tight budgets and sales forecasts - working to exceed targets, whilst developing the team, empowering task delegation and continuous improvements.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I started working with M&B in 2006. Most of my skills have been learnt from that period on. M&B have sent me on dozens of short courses whilst requiring the online learning journey to be a part of continuous professional development. Years ago, a lot of the courses off site were a long time coming, in that by the time the courses were attended, most of the information taught had already been learned through hands on learning. This has changed with the current learning portal and a learner can now work at their own pace with the speed of their development in their own hands.
The attraction of undertaking my Level 5 apprenticeship was to learn how to become a better manager to manage my team and business more effectively and to push myself and gain a nationally recognised qualification. Although my current role provides me with enough challenge, I do not expect to me a General Manager for every and the potential of becoming a district or regional manager will require a Level 5 certificate.
The biggest take away skill I have learned so far is to delegate more, plan my time more efficiently, and to follow up again and again. Some of the theories and models are very helpful in illustrating ideas and concepts to my manager.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
Although it's stressful, and I know I'm not giving this course the time it deserves, I am really enjoying it. The first few months were tough, trying to balance the course with work and family life, and after missing many assignment deadlines, I was having doubts over my ability to continue. But after speaking with my coach and putting what I'm learning about task delegation and empowerment, I am shifting the balance back in to favour.
I, and the rest of my cohort really enjoy the skills days and the webinars, we all just wish that there was more of them and that they were longer.
Overall, I am loving the course, it's just a lot more work than advised.
4. How well organised/structured is your programme?
The quality of the teachers, the research material, the online portal, the in-person skills days, the support from my coach have all been of a very high standard and level of professionalism. Skills days run to schedule, Skype calls are punctual, follow ups are on time. I would have liked a way of finding out about how and where to buy additional study material for each module (perhaps on the portal), without having to bother my coach. I think a guide on what makes for good body of evidence material would have been handy. as well as guides on assignment word lengths to prevent essays of waffle so as to be sure to include all relevant information.
I also think it would be really good if the online portal material could be editable instead of just slide after slide. There are a lot of 'activities' that I mostly skip because I can't interact with them - it's disappointing.
5. How much support do you receive from your employer?
This is a tough one as everyone will state that it comes down to what you put on yourself. I run my business, I am responsible for my own rota and timekeeping. Ensuring I find 4 hours during work time to dedicate to my apprenticeship sounds easy but in reality, running a pub is long, stressful hard work, and most weeks that 4 hours of time is swallowed by whatever train wreck has happened that day or week. I feel that this level of apprenticeship should come with 8hours of at-work study time a week to ensure that even when things do go wrong, that there is enough time left to put towards learning.
6. How much support do you receive from your training provider when working towards your qualifications?
The current program in my opinion has been a steep learning curve. The amount of work and time required was vastly under reported. Had I known the amount of work required I probably would not have joined the program due to my current job role exceeding 60-70hour weeks as well as a young family. My only real quibbles are that this course seems to be too rushed, that there isn't a skills day for every module, and that it has taken 6 months to learn what is required as far as body of evidence, end point assessment and even how to structure and frame the assignments. That, and that estimated 4-6 hours of personal learning time a week is in no way reflective of the actual 8-12 hours that is really required.
7. How well do you feel that your qualification (through your training provider) helps you to perform better in your role?
It's really helping me learn what that next level of management looks like and how I can become that manager. I have calmed down over the last 9 months in how I react to what happens around me and how aware I am that my behaviour and attitude can affect the rest of the team. Once I make more changes to the way I manage my time and put that time towards better planning, I feel I will be able to put my training to much better effect.
8. Are there extra-curricular activities to get involved in at your work? (For example, any social activities, sports teams, or even professional networking events.)
Not really no. The number one extra curricular activity in the pub / restaurant business, is drinking - usually a lot, which I'm quite good at.
Early last year I started hosting a local monthly breakfast network meeting which has grown in popularity and now enjoys a waiting list each month. The 6am start time isn't the most favourable time but the event has been a real success for all involved.
9a. Would you recommend Mitchells & Butlers to a friend?
M&B have given me my whole life here in the UK. As a working holiday maker from Australia I have worked my way from entry level bar staff, up to General Manager of a £2M a year business employing 40 staff. I met most of my friends through work, as well as my wife, my salary was the basis for my mortgage and my bonus structure is lucrative. As a massive company, M&B have numerous faults, still seem to be a big boys club and are incredibly slow to react to certain factors but I rate the company as progressive and forward thinking.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Mitchells & Butlers?
Work hard, respect your colleagues, the business and the company. Don't moan too much. Say yes to more responsibility. Don't expect too much too soon, progression is a slow game. Accept responsibility and don't blame others, but be wary of the slackers that will try and take advantage. Know your own value and always be on the look out for the next opportunity.