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Kellie Newell, Retail District Manager

Keeping morale high among managers during lockdown; studying for a degree as a working mother and becoming a performance coach – Kellie Newell has taken it all in her stride.

As part of Shepherd Neame’s celebration of International Women’s Day, we meet Retail District Manager Kellie and find out more about her career, drive and what a typical day in her the hospitality industry is like.

Name: Kellie Newell
Role: Retail District Manager
Age: 51
Home: Faversham

Tell us a little about your career to date.
I had my children early on in my life so didn’t start my career until a little later. I started off by working as a night receptionist within a hotel chain and absolutely fell in love with the hospitality industry – particularly serving customers, the social culture and working with great diverse teams. After a few years, I started to think about what I needed to do to progress and carve a career in the industry and decided to undertake a degree in hospitality management. After completing the degree, I then went onto management roles, starting as a store manager with Costa Coffee back in 2005! From there I went into hotel management, pub and restaurant management, multi-site management and then into regional roles. II have since furthered my skills by completing a Level 5 in management and leadership and more recently am training to become a personal performance coach where I assist in helping individuals to achieve either personal or professional goals.

What attracted you to working at Shepherd Neame?
I had always worked for large corporate companies, which were very process-driven, and quite often I found I could not put my own stamp within the workplace. I loved the fact that Shepherd Neame was a smaller independent company, where my skills and personality mattered, and I was not just another number in the workforce. As soon as I started, I could really feel the family culture where my opinions mattered and I could really be myself. 

What qualifications and personal characteristics do you need for your role?
I am not sure whether qualifications really matter within my role, experience within the industry, working as part of a team, having good financial acumen, excellent communication skills and being able to lead teams effectively are what matters more. In terms of personal characteristics, certainly being approachable with a supportive and friendly nature helps to get the best out of our teams as does having a good understanding of what really matters to people.

Kellie Newell

What does a typical day involve?
No two days are the same in the life of a retail district manager! One day could be filled with financial business reviews with our General Managers, while other days I could be inducting new starters into the business, auditing our kitchens, dealing with HR issues, meeting with other departments such as marketing, the food development team or property to look at how we can best promote our business or make changes that in turn will increase revenue. The General Managers are great at sorting out the day to day issues – my focus is on supporting them to achieve the best financial outcome they can, whilst taking care of their teams.

What is most rewarding about your job?
Seeing people develop is definitely at the top of my list – I have a passion for developing people and making use of my skills and experience. I have recently undertaken the responsibility of mentoring four apprentices that are undertaking the level 4 hospitality management programme through Shepherd Neame and look forward to working with them.

And what is tough about your job?
I don’t think there is anything I find particularly tough about my job – If I had to choose something, it would be keeping the General Managers motivated and positive during challenging times. The pandemic has been really tough for our teams – from opening and closing the pubs on numerous occasions and the logistical nightmare this created, as well as coming out the other side of the pandemic and facing serious recruitment and supply issues whilst trying to ensure we continue to provide a great customer experience.

What do you consider your biggest professional success in your career so far?
Completing a degree, whilst working five nights a week and taking care of my three young sons at the time, was hard work, but so rewarding and I often wonder if I hadn’t have gone through those tough times, where I would be now! To wake up grateful for my drive, my ambition and being in a role, absolutely loving what I do, in my eyes is success.

What are your hobbies and interests outside work?
I am a social butterfly so love being out meeting friends or my sons, I also enjoy walking, running and cycling and taking the time to focus on what’s important to keep myself healthy, active and in a good state mentally is important.

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