Becky Wilkes - Bee More Manchester – 003
I’ve known Becky for over a year now, ever since she moved from Manchester House to launch 20 Stories. She’s like the annoying sister I never had and although I would never say this to her face, I’m actually really proud to call her a friend.
As we sit down to do the interview at 20 Stories on a Sunday, which is technically one of her days off, there is a wedding fair literally being set up behind us and her phone is going off every few seconds. Luckily we managed to squeeze in a quick photo shoot and interview for number 3 in my #PeopleofMCR series.
For those that aren’t familiar with the series, I’ve decided to do a take on ‘Humans of New York’ but for people who call Manchester home.
Bee more MCR will try and tell the story of this incredible city and all the people of Manchester, #peopleofmcr, who contribute to it being the fastest growing city in Europe.
So how does this work? I will get each person to tell me their story in their own words of how they got to where they are today. I will share that story along with some photos for context.
Each person featured will then be asked the same question – Why Manchester?
Becky started in hospitality at 13 years old. Ok, so it was working in her local Chinese restaurant for about £12 a week, but she worked out very early on that hard work leads to reward.
Becky, like me, has no interest in material possessions but understands the freedom that money can give you to travel, see something new and have experiences that you will remember.
In her own words, she’s been independent since day one and believes that you should never have to rely on anyone else in life.
Becky moved from the Chinese restaurant to Ridgmont House in Bolton as a server before moving into a wedding and events co-ordinator role. This is where she developed her hospitality skills working 7 days a week.
Keen to progress, she made the switch to Manchester City Centre, working for the Great John Street Hotel as a guest relations co-ordinator. Her role essentially involved making everyone feel like a VIP, sneaking into peoples rooms while they were out at an anniversary dinner, to surprise them with rose petals and some cookies for when they get back. If someone needed Man City vs. Man United tickets she would make it happen.
This is when her network in town really started to grow, as she had to have the connections available to deliver what the guests needed. This then led to her being head hunted to Manchester House (now restaurant MCR by head chef Aiden Byrne). The role she took on was PA to Aiden and the General Manager, which meant she had to get involved in all operational aspects of the business.
The natural fit for Becky would be a Business Development Role (BDM). She’s got this really annoying magnetism about her where she gets on with everyone without being fake. However, she admits that she doesn’t fit the historical BDM ‘look’ or management style. “I’m not false, blond with big boobs and I don’t mind getting my hands dirty. Even for things like clearing a glass that’s been left on the side, I’d never think anything is beneath me no matter what my role is.”
Luckily the Directors were convinced to try her out for the role and she thrived to the point where she was then head hunted again by D&D London who own 20 Stories.
Becky was the first member of staff on the payroll at 20 Stories while the building was still a construction site. D&D didn’t have an existing site in Manchester and so relied heavily on Becky to steer them in the right direction.
She openly admitted in meetings that Mancunians are different to everyone else, so the new venture for D&D appreciated Becky's opinions, to learn about Manchester's behaviour and trends.
“People from Manchester are proud, stubborn and want things to be created here." So with a bit of Manchester influence and a lot of hard work from everyone involved, 20 Stories launched with a bang and is now one of the ‘go to’ destinations in town, not just for that view or the outdoor terrace, but a high end food and drink offering from gastro English cuisine to a Sunday roast and afternoon tea.
Becky is now Senior Sales and Marketing Manager of the North for D&D London, looking after 5 restaurants and bars across Manchester and Leeds.
She never openly talks about her past and how she got to where she is, but knowing her for a few years I wanted to talk about what’s driven her to where she is.
Becky has never really been close with her dad and her mum sadly past away when she was 17. However, the important take away from her past is the work ethic she developed from her Mum.
As a mobile hairdresser, Becky’s mum worked every hour available 7 days a week, apart from the time where she would look after Becky and her brother.
I’ve never met someone successful that hasn’t had an event in their past that’s defined the person they’ve become today. Becky admits that her close friends have become her family in the last 12 years. They’re always telling her that she works too hard, but in her own words, she works hard because she wants to.
Becky’s final goal would be to one day open her own independent restaurant. I have absolutely no doubt that eventually it will happen and she will make it a success for her and her new family.
When asked why Manchester? Becky talked about how much she loves this City, “I’m just a Manchester person, I love how proud we are, how stubborn everyone is, I love the music scene (as a big fan of the Stone Roses and Oasis). If you put 10 people in a line up from different places around the UK, I could spot the Mancunian straight away. I get goose bumps even talking about it.”
The head office have asked Becky if she would ever consider a move to London, but like me, she ends up visiting the capital a lot for meetings, but she’s always so much happier when she gets back home. “Everyone’s just so friendly, it’s just a big family.”
I really appreciate Becky taking the time to sit down with me so I can tell her story. To book at 20 Stories, please visit www.20stories.co.uk
Becky also recently co-launched the Manchester Hospitality Network. To find out more check them out on Instagram @manchesterhospitalitynetwork