How I got here:
My first experience working in the industry was as a bartender for Baboushka group in London in the early 90s. I quickly rose through the ranks to floor manager, bar manager and then assistant manager, before I was given my own site in Caledonian Road and then made area manager. It was a quick progression considering I was there for just three years.
I spent the next few years abroad, in Portugal – where I opened a restaurant – and in Sydney, Audtralia, where I also opened a restaurant and private dining rooms.
I returned to the UK and began working with Babouska again, working to turn around an under performing site in Bristol. After two years I moved back to London to start work with Harvey Nichols, and helped open a site for them in Bristol.
Once it was open I was approached by Jillian MacLean, founder of Drake & Morgan, to help her with the launch of her first site, The Refinery on Southwark Street, as openings manager. The idea was that I would work to get the formula right there before going on to help roll out the next two sites. She then made me operations manager in September this year, before we launched our fourth site, The Folly in the City.
Working for Drake & Morgan:
I think Drake & Morgan is fantastic I really believe in the brand and the company – it’s an offer that’s not out there by anyone else. We play heavy on delivering good customer service, and everyone working at all the sites believes in it as well.
The most important thing I’ve learned:
What I’ve taken from the early days is that no matter what opening it is, the formula is the same and it all comes down to basic planning and training. Operations requires a cool head and great planning, and while the first opening you do is stressful and horrendous, you learn from each time you do it.
I was amazing working in the sun in Portugal, but I really gained the most experience in my career by working in Sydney.
I was really put out of my comfort zone there. It’s not that much of a different culture but there are subtle differences and things that work there don’t necessarily work here as the lifestyles are different. Australians want a different product when they go out.
Learning on the job:
I’m more than happy with what I’ve learned on the job – growing up with a family in this industry was something I absorbed even as a child, hearing them talk or visiting businesses with my parents. I don’t miss not having any formal training because I’ve had more than most peoples fair share of vocational training.
However, I’d say if formal training is available then people should go for it. I believe in training and if it’s there you should take the opportunity. I do also think that on the job training is key to building up life experiences outside of textbooks.