December 13, 2017
Queen of Pubs – Helen Lees
The Mutton Club talk to Helen Lees who took her passion for the brewing industry and turned it into her own business, MyPubGroup.ltd, to provide recruitment solutions for the pub and bar trade. (Published in Mutton Club, December 2017)
1) What made you decide to do what you do? I love pubs and love people, really enjoy watching people succeed, even more so hate watching people fail, often because of poor choices made by both the company recruiting and the candidates themselves. I knew I wanted to change that.
2) Why did you wait until you did to do it? I was made redundant from a job I ended up hating. I had an 18-month old, my relationship was on the rocks at that time, having a child had changed me so much, I was completely and utterly lost, I really didn’t have anything to lose.
3) What are you hoping to accomplish? I have already achieved so much more than I ever imagined if you had told me in 2009 that in 2017 I would have a successful business I would have laughed, this comes with higher expectations, and my overall goal is to turn over 3 million by the time I am 45.
4) How did you make the change? What or who helped you? I literally just went for it. I had help from people I knew who could help, I paid for a little bit of help too and mostly my family and friends who I probably bored night and day with my constant ideas, suggestions and late-night questions. My hubby took most of the flack. He watched the TV night after night while I worked all hours in the garage.
5) How did your family and friends react? They were really supportive, if I am honest. I am not sure they really believed I would do it. Never the less they helped me and supported me both mentally and financially, often financially.
6) How has your life changed having gone down this path? Massively, the level of responsibility is enormous. I do often wonder what kind of wife and mum I would have been with a typical 9-5 job. I have given up so much of my kids’ childhoods, had to have someone else look after them day to day, but then I also think about the fact I could go to sports day no questions asked, never missed a parents’ evening, school play because of work. I guess my life has changed but I think it was always going to go this way.
7) What advice do you have for women considering a similar life change? Be brave, be bold and don’t leave any stone unturned, take risks and believe you can do it. So what if it goes wrong, at least you tried.
8) What are you proud of and what keeps you inspired? I am proud of being brave; I am proud of never giving up even on the darkest of days, I am proud that my kids think I am pretty cool and they understand working hard is worth it. My inspiration comes from being better, improving and challenging the business, learning new stuff every day, learning from the people around me and knowing that we all have bills to pay.
9) What do you love about being the age you are? My kids are growing up, I feel less torn now than I used to, I have more confidence because of the many experiences I have had, and if I am honest, I still behave like a 20-year-old given half the chance.
10) What do you hate most about being the age you are? Wrinkles and hangovers
11) What do you know now that you’d wish you’d known in your twenties? I wish I could have known how selfish I was, how much time I wasted on stupid things. I spent time worrying about things that really did not matter, but also how now I realise how little I valued peace and quiet and time alone. Things that now in my forties I crave.
12) What are the most important business and/or personal lessons? Trust your gut instinct. It’s generally right, no-one will ever love your business as much as you do, not even your closest family. You have to be ready to make sacrifices even when you don’t want to. Never take your eye off any element of the business always know top line every detail, surround yourself with a good team.
13) Do you have a mantra that has guided you more than any other? A mantra no, but I do believe as my grandparents often said, just put your best foot forward.
14) Which woman do you most admire and why? Easy one, my mom, for reasons I wouldn’t want to disclose in print, as they are entirely personal but my mom without a doubt.
15) Is there anything people consistently misunderstand about you? I don’t think I am misunderstood, I am pretty simple, to be honest. I do know some people don’t understand the way my brain thinks, but I don’t think I am misunderstood.