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What’s Your Story? Lorraine Copes

Lorraine Copes is a Procurement Leader, Life Coach and the Founder of BAME in Hospitality. Lorraine Copes explains “what’s your story?”…

An image of Lorraine Copes

My earliest childhood memories are dominated by music and food, Sundays were special.  Each and every Sunday morning my dad would turn on the hi-fi system, and play the sweetest sounds of Jamaica.  

My mom typically started dinner prep on Friday, seasoning the meat – usually mutton or chicken, on a Friday night, and soaking of the kidney peas usually followed on Saturday night. Sunday was filled with Jamaican music and food – rice and peas, plantain, curried mutton and Guinness punch. Those memories are deeply rooted in who I am today, my parents building the cultural ties that remain in all the things that I love up until this day.

Being born to Jamaican parents often comes with an insistence to peruse further education because of the opportunities it could allow for. I chose to complete a BSc in Logistics, this choice purely on the basis of being able to “secure a well-paid job” after graduating. It was neither a passion or an interest. 

Fortunately, because of my degree, I found myself working within the Pub sector straight out of university, for a now disbanded joint venture between The Spirit Group (now Greene King), and Punch Taverns.  Though my job as a forecast and data analyst had me bored to tears, in this role, I met my first mentor Sharon Low, and realised that without being an actual chef, that I could work with food and drink closely enough to better understand it, and even better, taste it. 

With this new found discovery, I slightly diverted by job function towards Procurement, and I went onward and upward to work within contract catering, casual dining, and most recently fine dining. Over the years, I have worked for brands such as Shake Shack, Gordon Ramsay, and Corbin & King. I was able to do so through firstly hard work, but secondly through having a string of role models and mentors, who supported me along my path. 

Throughout my career, I have enjoyed my job, and came to love Procurement, but I have always had a yearning to find that passion, that thing I would happily do for free.  I initially found that feeling in mentorship.

Black or Asian employees have always gravitated towards me, I assume because of the rarity of seeing someone that was from a similar background to them in a senior role, and thus, I have enjoyed supporting others. I then went onwards to complete a diploma in coaching, and it was at this point that it really dawned on me that nothing brought me more joy than being able to help others move forward, progressing within their personal or professional lives.

As a coach I feel free, being able to show up as my authentic self, and help people move forward to realise their full potential. This study then led me to reflect, and I realised that throughout my career to-date this has not always been the case. I have often felt separate, prejudged and othered.  Yes, I was still able to progress, but my journey was mostly an uncomfortable one and being in leadership positions, I have had an epiphany.

BAME in Hospitality has allowed me to combine two things that are near and dear to my heart, helping people progress, particularly the marginalised and the hospitality sector itself.

I am an extrovert, who thrives on connecting with others, and recognise that this will be truly a collective effort to drive long lasting change. We will do this through collaborating with all whom champion equality, as we do.

My personal aim to ensure that anyone intent on entering the sector, and those who currently work within the industry, have an improved, more inclusive experience to the one that I did. They will not have to search high and low to see role models that look like them, they will have the support of a community, and infrastructure to help their careers or businesses flourish.

Similar to my parents shaping my future cultural ties that remain today, BAME in Hospitality will help to shape the future of the hospitality industry. What does this future look like? The future of hospitality is a more diverse industry from top to bottom, with no glass ceilings for anyone, and where anyone can fulfil their potential.

It’s important to remember, it’s up to all of us to build that future.

About ‘What’s your story?’

In the What’s your story series, we hope to share the detailed journeys of our members. From Head Chefs to Business leaders to Entrepreneurs, What’s your story will provide the tale behind the name.

You can learn more about Lorraine Copes on her member profile.

Share your story with us contact@bameinhospitality.co.uk