Group 40 Created with Sketch.

People & Team


Ashley Challinor: Finding the right role for me

Right role for Ashley Challinor
Ashley leads the morning department heads meeting

After stints as cabin crew and running chalets in the French Alps, Ashley Challinor joined The Headland Hotel two years ago and set about finding the right role for her skill set.

As her career progressed, she took on increasingly senior roles. “I’ve always felt quite natural in hospitality leadership roles. I’ve discovered who I am and what I enjoy – specifically, someone who doesn’t like being boxed in,” she explained.

“Everyone is different and when you manage people you have to understand how they work, what makes them tick and what their likes and dislikes are.”

In her time at The Headland, Ashley has never been shy about showing her ambitious side to senior management above her. In doing this, and then taking on a job with lots of new responsibility, Ashley learnt an important lesson which she now looks back on as constructive.

Too much too soon

“I am an all or nothing kind of person, always trying to run before I can walk,” she admitted. “About nine months ago, having taken on the new role, I started to really not feel myself. I wasn’t motivated or productive and was in a sort of ‘tornado’.

“The real defining moment for me was realising I had to stop and re-evaluate. My confidence was zero and anxiety was creeping in – but I decided to make a change. It came down to really looking after myself, mastering each individual task and not saying ‘yes’ to everything thrown my way.”

That step back took Ashley into the dual role she now holds, a set of responsibilities which play to her natural strengths. Looking at how management supported her during this time, and how she thinks leaders in all businesses should be thinking, Ashley said: “It’s about actively being there and showing you’re a good listener. It’s only through doing this that you’re able to understand the issues being dealt with by your staff. Those in upper levels have done what we have, but they sometimes forget.

“I’d also say that encouragement is vital. If you don’t encourage people to push themselves then you’ll never get the best out of them. I’m competitive, so when you tell me I’m doing something good I just want to do it better – it empowers me!”

Help from above

The Headland Hotel Darryl Reburn
The Headland Hotel MD Darryl Reburn briefs his team alongside Ashley

Ashley knows that the doors of The Headland’s general manager and managing director, Richard and Darryl, are always open. Despite their busy schedules they both go out of their way to make time for informal catch ups with staff. “It’s the most supportive work environment I’ve had,” she added.

The trust Richard and Darryl have gained from Ashley also means they’re able to push back in constructive ways. A case in point is recent conversations around her future progression in the company. “I like to initiate those kinds of conversations having learnt I don’t like waiting around,” she explained. “I went to Richard and said, ‘do you think my job description defines what I do?’ and he said no, let’s talk. However, if he believes I’m not yet ready for a particular job move then that’s fine, I can take that. He’s my manager and I’ve found I can only learn from how he’s managing me.”

As she’s moved through different companies and roles Ashley has come to value honesty in particular. Whether a manager is able to give a “yes” or “no” answer, being honest is key to an open and ongoing conversation.

Treating your staff like adults means the entire team can come together in a constructive way during the good and challenging times.

As someone who has recently taken the time to check in on her own wellbeing, Ashley will be taking that renewed focus and paying careful attention to the welfare of the people she manages. Time-starved or not, it’s important to check in with the people you work with or lead by asking how they really are – not once, but twice.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

On a scale of 1-5, how useful have you found our content?

Not so useful
Very useful