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Meet the Team #3 : Isabelle from Operations

Isabelle is Food & Beverage Manager at Northern Stage. Her job involves managing, organising, and controlling food and beverage operations within budget, to ensure that our product is to the highest standard for delivering an excellent guest experience. Additionally, she leads the bar and kitchen team by recruiting, training, and appraising personnel. She has worked at Northern Stage since November 2022.


An orange graphic reads Meet The Team Isabelle Wilson Food & Beverage Manager with a photo of Isabelle in a circle.

Tell us a bit about your career path before landing at Northern Stage.

My journey to my career within the hospitality industry began back when I was 17 through acquiring a part-time position as a floor assistant at a pub in Huddersfield. Back then, the job was really to gain some experience outside of academia and to earn some money. I didn’t ever expect to make a career from the industry, as I had my mind set on going into the police.

I moved up to Newcastle for university, still aspiring to join the police force as a detective once I’d finished my degree. To fund my uni lifestyle, I transferred from my hometown pub to The Five Swans just across the road from here. It was a drastic change in pace, but I soon adapted to the more hands-on environment and enjoyed the hustle and bustle. My job became an escape from university, and I started to really lean into the idea of taking on more responsibilities and learning new skills. I was promoted to Team Leader after a year, and this is when I started to think I could make a career out of hospitality.

I enjoyed the responsibilities which came with the role and made changes to ensure service ran smoothly, as well as suggesting improvements we could implement to run the business more effectively.

After two years in this role, I was promoted to Shift Leader. Now that I was part of the management team, I was responsible for recruitment, stock, cash handling and more extensive staff management, alongside a team of other managers. I also liaised with the affiliated charity, Young Lives vs Cancer, to create fundraising events throughout the year. I was also cross trained in the kitchen, so I began expanding into the other areas affiliated with hospitality that had previously not crossed my mind. I began to realise that there was more to hospitality and the service industry than simply pouring pints and serving food, there was a whole system of processes behind these fundamentals, and this is what I came to enjoy the most within the sector. I began to feel limited in my role and felt that I wasn’t learning anything new. So, when I was approached by a hired recruiter for Northern Stage after he had discovered my CV on Indeed, it was perfect timing.

As daunting as this role was for me to come into, I’m so happy that I decided to take the leap and trust my own abilities. It is so much more rewarding to witness your own work come into fruition through processes and procedures you’ve implemented and watch them successfully be carried out by a fantastic team!

What drew you to Northern Stage?

After being approached by the recruiter for Northern Stage, I began doing some research to see if the role was going to be something that I’d enjoy, and to see if the environment would be somewhere that I would fit in.

I soon discovered that everything about Northern Stage is encompassed by their desire to achieve equality, inclusivity and diversity for everyone; staff, customers and visiting companies alike. As someone who is from a heavily working-class background, is part of the LGBTQ+ community and as a person with neurodivergence, the ethos of Northern Stage really welcomed me in and made me continue with the interview process.

The location of the theatre also brings me back to my uni days and allows me to enjoy the stunning architecture of Newcastle University every day!

Northern Stage is encompassed by their desire to achieve equality, inclusivity and diversity for everyone; staff, customers and visiting companies alike.

What do you like about the North East?

Newcastle, and the North East in general, is just my home away from home – I’ve met most of my best friends up here, I met my partner up here and I have achieved so many milestones in my five, nearly six, years living up here. I really can’t see myself living anywhere else!

I love the locality of everything – it’s such a small city full of so much potential, and holds such a range of activities for whatever mood you’re in.

What do you enjoy in your typical day at Northern Stage?

One of my favourite things about working at Northern Stage is just the laughs and enjoyment you get from everyone. When I walk in through the main entrance, I love when the bar staff and box office all stand and just wave me hello or announce my arrival by saying “ISSY!!”, or “Look who it is” – it really makes me laugh.

Or if I enter through stage door, there’s always the possibility that Dan from Tech will be around the corner to try give me a fright to add to the tally chart (he normally wins, to be fair!)

It’s such a relaxed environment and you get to enjoy laughing and joking, which makes the job feel as though you’re not really at work sometimes.

We have some social events which we do on a regular basis, like Tea Thursday and the Northern Page book club, just to let everyone have a breather and a natter whilst enjoying a cake and a coffee, it’s lovely.

One of my absolute favourite parts of working here, though, is when Natalie’s little dog, Obi, comes bounding through the doors with the zoomies, giving everyone a cuddle along the way.

It’s such a relaxed environment and you get to enjoy laughing and joking, which makes the job feel as though you’re not really at work sometimes.

What do you get up to outside of work?

I’ve recently just began going to the gym again – after COVID hit I really didn’t fancy home work-outs so gave up. I have a friend, who I met whilst working at The Five Swans, who is also a personal trainer – he’s really helped me get back into the swing of weightlifting. I aim to go at least three times a week, and it’s really helped my mental health, sleeping habits and eating habits. So I’m grateful I’ve gotten back into it!

I love reading, and again after I finished university, I found every excuse in the book not to begin reading again (no pun intended), even though I love to read! The book club we have at Northern Stage really gets me into the mood to read more, and it keeps it fun by encouraging you to read genres or authors who you may never have heard of or intended to read otherwise.