Pier owner cannot imagine a world where she wasn’t welcome because of her gender

PUBLISHED: 17:27 07 February 2018

Michelle Michael on the Grand Pier.

Michelle Michael on the Grand Pier.

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Although some aspects of gender equality are still often debated, the business world has proven a ‘welcoming’ place for one of the owners of Weston’s most famous landmark.

Grand Pier co-owner Michelle Michael took over running the tourist attraction in 2008 alongside her brother Kerry but has been a familiar face in the world of business since 1997.

In an environment which would have been considered a ‘man’s world’ by past generations, Ms Michael has gone on to become a successful entrepreneur.

She told the Mercury the support of her ‘friendly’ industry has been invaluable, especially during difficult times like in July 2008 when the pier went up in flames.

She added: “We were welcomed as a business by all other hospitality companies in our tourism association, the British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions.

“We were shown behind the scenes, introduced to suppliers; we discussed prices, IT systems, rides, ticketing and almost everything else down to décor and durability of products.

“We could not have re-opened without this extremely relevant sharing of knowledge and experience.

“Throughout that journey, I did not once feel threatened as a woman or feel anyone had placed barriers up because of my gender.”

Ms Michael has faced little adversity in her field, saying she ‘could not imagine’ an environment where women were not welcomed in to the hospitality sector.

She added: “Sometimes in a debate with others, you may experience the feeling some may not know your experience or value your opinion, but usually this happens in an environment of change, where those in the mix have a reluctance to change.”

And as the business world continues to change, Ms Michael said it is ‘crucial’ to surround yourself with ‘good people’.

She added: “Treat them as you would wish to be treated yourself and take responsibility for the future of your business.

“We need to adapt to changes and it is your responsibility as the head of the business to ensure you are ahead of the curve.”

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