Often the first face many people see when they arrive at The Wolseley, Helen Scott had her first foray into the world of hospitality later on in life after a successful career with the Queen Alexandra’s Army Nursing Corps. Here, Helen shares a little more about her life and transition to hospitality.
Tell us a little about yourself…
Aside from the odd bit of waitressing when I was younger in Edinburgh, I hadn’t had too much experience working in hospitality before I came to The Wolseley. Actually, for most of my career, I was a Queen Alexandra’s Army Nurse. After this, I lived in Spain for six years where I worked in a bar, and then I moved to London for the first time in my 60s, back in 2015.
Initially I was working in the care industry because of my nursing background, and then found myself potentially without a place to live. But by chance I met a veteran from Afghanistan through ‘Walking With The Wounded’ who put me in touch with the House of St Barnabas employment programme – it was like a chain reaction of events that led me here to The Wolseley.
Hospitality was not your “first career”, what drew you to the industry and what keeps you coming back each day?
It was a combination of factors really, but it was via Only a Pavement Away that The Wolseley came up as an option. The door role was suggested and I thought “I’ll give that a try” – and I joined in December 2019. I really enjoy it; it’s very much a family. Everybody knows your name and I look forward to coming back each day, you never know who you will meet.
Often, people are surprised that I’m the doorperson (rather than a man!) and they’ll say things like “that’s nice to see”!
You’re often the first face many people see as they enter The Wolseley – what would you say is your favourite thing about working here?
I would have to say the energy. You can feel the ambiance before you ever get into the restaurant, it feels like a positive space and there’s good energy radiating from the moment people walk through the door. I enjoy smiling and welcoming everyone, it’s important to give a good first impression – and I think it contributes to the friendly, relaxed atmosphere.
What do you like most about working in a multigenerational team?
Regardless of age, everyone has unique knowledge and experience to share. Here our team is made up of people from all different cultures and backgrounds – I feel like I’m always learning something new and developing intercultural understanding. Plus, I pick up a few different phrases in different languages which can be useful when greeting people!
What’s your favourite thing about working at Corbin and King?
There’s always a feeling of being supported – by your colleagues, by the team in head office and even by Jeremy and the executive team. If you have the desire to develop and grow, then this will be recognised and supported; for example with training, if you have an idea for something that you think is needed e.g. First Aid, then it’s always met with full encouragement from the Corbin & King team. The Employee Assistance Programme is also great; it was particularly helpful over lockdown with the mental health support.
When you’re not at The Wolseley where can we find you?
At home in Wimbledon… I get bored easily and find I often can’t sit still, so I’m always finding new things to do! I do also enjoy downtime of course, particularly listening to music – everything from classical to rock, depending on my mood.
And finally, what advice would you give to any older workers looking to join the world of hospitality?
It’s important to be a good communicator – you’re frontline, so you’ve got to be able to interact with people from all walks of life and change your style, whether that’s interacting with children or older people. You sometimes have to deal with difficult situations, so I find speaking to each person on their level and keeping the conversation light works a treat – and don’t give advice! It’s also good to dress smartly and a touch of resilience helps too.
Corbin & King is sponsoring National Older Workers’ Week 2021. Taking place from 22nd to 26th November, it is an opportunity to showcase and celebrate our multigenerational workforce – and why hospitality is a welcoming environment for all. Over the course of the week, we will be sharing stories from our staff; and Helen’s is just one of them.
If you’re interested in joining the Corbin & King family, take a look at our current vacancies.