‘I get satisfaction from knowing customers have had a great night and that I’ve been part of creating their great experience.’
1. Please give a brief overview of your career history – where you started, how you
progressed, the companies you have worked for etc
I started in the hospitality industry washing dishes in at the age of 14 in The Waterfront Bar in Holywood (now called The Dirty Duck), progressed onto waiter, then to working in the bar and got more responsibility over the years with cash and locking up.
At 19 I went to Uni in Edinburgh and worked in 3 Sisters Bar (2000 capacity) when it first opened. I transferred my course back to Northern Ireland after the 1st year and worked in The Dirty Duck and became Manager at age of 20.
After 1 year and 7 months as Manager I was approached by owners of The Kremlin Nightclub in Belfast to apply for General Manager position, which I then got in April 2002. During the 3 years as GM we opened Union Street Bar and launched all nighter, Event Horizon.
In April 2005 I went to Botanic Inns as Assistant Manager of The Fly Bar, and after 10 months was
promoted to General Manager. In March 2007 I was asked to do 6 weeks Managing The Whiskey Haw that Botanic Inns bought until they got a Manager to take over, at which point I returned back to The Fly.
In September 2007 The Fly underwent a million pound refurb transforming it into The Taphouse Bar and Scratch Nightclub. I am currently on the Institute of Hospitality's Young Managers Group in Northern Ireland.
2. Have you always wanted to work within hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism and
why? If not, how did you end up where you are now?
I grew up with my family owning Hotels in Scotland and a Bars and Restaurants so it’s what I know
and enjoy. Though I never intended to stay in the hospitality industry, I found it a way to work and
do a degree part time but that soon changed over time and has become my career.
3. What sort of qualifications and training have you had and what else would you like to do?
Degree in Business
Advanced Power Boat Instructor (not really relevant to Hospitality though)
First Aid/Door Reg
Botanic Inns have put me through a lot of training
Would love to do a Marketing qualification as I enjoy that side of the business
4. What are the top 5 activities you would typically carry out on a daily basis?
Business Planning/Time Management
5. What do you most enjoy about your job?
I get satisfaction from knowing customers have had a great night and that I’ve been part of creating
their great experience. You get to meet a lot of different and interesting people which constantly
keeps things exciting.
6. What would you say is the biggest challenge you face on a daily basis?
The biggest challenge is ensuring customers choose to spend their hard earned money with us
rather than spend it on other social activities (bowling, cinema, etc), people are choosing to go out
less and less so we have to create the best experience for the customer when we can so they will
7. What would you say is your biggest achievement to date?
Being part of refurbishment of The Fly to becoming The Taphouse and Scratch. The success is a
great achievement to all involved.
8. Who has been the greatest influence/role model in your career and why?
One of my original managers, Austin McCullough, who I strived to work as hard as I could for.
More recently my Managing Director, Stephen Magorrian, as his grasp of the industry is impressive
and I'm always learning from him.
9. Do you have a favourite tale or most memorable moment from your career?
I've loved over the years the famous people i've met, Gina G almost gave birth in the back of the
car I was driving as she I was due to pick her up for a performance but her water broke before I
got there thankfully. It’s great the people I've met, Louis Walsh, Dale Winton, Lisa Scott Lee Kate
Lawler, Fran Cosgrove, Cheeky Girls, not all great celebs but interesting all the same.
10. What piece of advice would you offer someone who wants to work within our industries?
The hospitality industry has great oppurtunities for people getting into it, if you have the right
attitude then that will create opportunities. Often people don't see our industry as a career path
though there are plenty of managers in the industry who have successful careers and probably
have all started from the bottom and worked their way up. The hospitality industry is more than
just running a bar/restaurant/club, they're businesses that have issues to be dealt with from HR,
finance, marketing and need people who have a good understanding of business.
11. Why would you encourage someone to work in our industry?
You get to meet a lot of people and make a lot of friends, working in the industry can be
extremely enjoyable and you can enjoy a night while earning money instead of spending it. Some
say we work unsociable hours but I find the hours suit my lifestyle, I enjoy working some nights
and getting days off during the week, shifts are flexible in getting time off. The hospitality industry
has a great social scene and you get to meet a lot of great people along the way.