How I got here:
I started working in restaurants at the age of 15 and loved it immediately. I grew up in the middle of nowhere in Devon and worked part time during the school holidays - I never thought hospitality would be a career.
I studied History at Durham University and worked in events management at the same time, so organising university balls and freshers week for 600 people. That’s what got me into events organisation.
I came to London and started working for a firm of interior designers in the marketing department. On paper it was my dream job but in the end I guess I decided that while I could have continued with marketing and learn to love it, I realised that I loved restaurants. So I took a break thinking it would only be for three months and before I knew it I was training as a manager across three sites at Frandek, which put me in the right place at the right time. Within a year and a half, when I was 25, I was general manager of The Ebury, which is quite a significant site on Pimlico Road. I was running an 80-cover brasserie, a busy events company and a fine dining restaurant for 50 covers. I spent three years there as general manager and ended up training all the other site managers, writing training manuals and assisting with site launches at the same time.
After five years I was looking around for the next thing, knowing I wanted to move on from being a general manager, when the role in operations with Tom and Ed came up. I saw they had plans to grow but they had no real infrastructure or training. So I joined ETM in the new role as operations director, starting from scratch to put in new systems and launch sites with them.
My career high:
The highlight of my career has to be when we opened The Botanist on Sloane Square. I really do love the gastropub model but you can’t beat opening a site on Sloane Square with a cocktail bar and busy brasserie. Saying that, this year is going to be really exciting with the two launches at the Montcalm Hotel and another possible site at Canary Wharf.
My biggest achievement:
I’m really proud of my work at ETM in general. We grew slowly at first but then in 2006 The Gun really emerged onto the dining scene in London. Since then we've taken fresh ideas but kept the individual identity of every site while managing to implement systems that meant the company worked seamlessly as a whole.
Right now we’re embarking on opening site number nine and have a fantastic group of people working to take ETM forward. That really is the biggest achievement for me; that five years working at ETM is paying off now. The product is great and there are people I really trust to do a briliant job.
On my skills:
You have to be very organised - you have to manage a huge range of people from site level to the owners of the company and you have to be quite assertive. In terms of skills you have to call on such a huge range. You need excellent communication skills and the drive to get things done.
On ditching academics for hospitality:
I studied history without having any particular career in mind. I guess you could say I’m someone who never wanted to work in a corporate environment. I’ve always been interested in being in a creative industry working with a small group of key people rather than a huge structure.
If you asked me back then what my dream job would be, it would have involved creative elements and food. I never imagined this would be a career but I always knew those aspects would be a part of what I would do.
I didn’t have any expectations at all. That makes me sound aimless. I wasn’t really, but without knowing it I had formed a love for the industry and I knew I’d end up doing something in it.
On working with ETM:
ETM still feels like a young, dynamic company even though it’s in its eleventh year. The way that Tom and Ed work is really immediate and creative and we’re constantly evolving. I think that’s how we’ve managed to avoid the overly corporate and overly structured company style.
On my future:
In the medium term I’m very much with ETM and we have some very exciting projects coming up. I haven’t looked much further beyond that but I would like to establish my own restaurant group one day. I’d like to do a concept that’s more of a contemporary English cocktail bar/ restaurant and quite similar to the ETM model in that it’s a multisite operation with unique sites.