Sharon from The Swan pub at Dobcross

The Wealth Manager Who Invested in a Career Change—Running Her Own Pub

Inside view of The Swan pub at DobcrossInvestments aren’t always purely financial—as former wealth manager Sharon Musgrove, who now runs The Swan pub at Dobcross, can tell you. Sometimes, when you make a business decision, you’re also investing in the emotional payoff—both short and long-term. That’s why many people like Sharon find themselves leaving behind secure and lucrative careers to register as self-employed and take on their own pubs—even when their entire career to date has been focused on mitigating risk.

“My job was all about being risk averse,” Sharon says. “So, it’s funny that I’m now doing something a lot of people would consider to be a ‘risky’ undertaking. But I’ve taken on a village pub that was well-loved before the pandemic—and is hugely important to me as my local—and I know I can bring people back in.”

Sometimes, when you make a business decision, you’re also investing in the emotional payoff—both short and long-term

The Swan pub at DobcrossLocated in a picturesque area of rural Saddleworth, The Swan had become known locally as the home of amateur theatre in the area. Its spacious upstairs room had been used as a magistrates’ court in the 18th Century and previous tenants had recently turned the space into a 60-seat playhouse that hosted touring theatre companies from all over the UK. And it’s the potential offered by the upstairs room that got Sharon excited about taking on the pub, herself.

“There’s so much you can do with that room,” she says. “It’s a great resource that people love, so putting on entertainment up there is high on my agenda. Plus, I’ve been coming here for so long, I know what kind of thing will work and what won’t.”

The freedom to be able to develop her own events calendar is one of the benefits of the new Marston’s Pillar Partnership that Sharon’s enjoying. This new type of agreement gives publicans the opportunity to invest an amount that would normally be applied to a much more restrictive partnership with a pub company—but with a great deal more autonomy.

“I started to wonder if I could do something else that would be more satisfying, wholesome and fulfilling—yet still be a successful business”

Outside view of The Swan pub at DobcrossThat autonomy not only includes enabling publicans to plan their own events, but also to develop their own food menus—there are no ties to Marston’s food products, in other words. And, Sharon excitedly asserts, “there’s already a chef in place and we’ll be producing good, modern British food that the local people want to eat.”

Pillar Partners keep a larger share of the profits they make than those investing similar up-front amounts on more restrictive pub deals. And running a pub can, of course be a lucrative business for those savvy enough to make a success of it—which Sharon clearly is. But, surely, it’s not as lucrative as her former career as a wealth manager?

“It’s not just about money,” she says. “I had a significant birthday last year and I started to wonder if I could do something else that would be more satisfying, wholesome and fulfilling—yet still be a successful business that would give me a good living.”

That’s someone who’s clearly put their priorities in order.

Looking for something else to read? Check out our interview with The IT & Business Consultant who went on to run the pub he worked in as a teenager.

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