Willow Jolly is the General Manager of Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa restaurant in St.Pauls, London. An exciting (if stressful) job, if you’ve ever been thinking of getting into a career in hospitality you might want to read this.
Career Girl Diaries aim to show a new light to a vast array of careers you might not have thought of, they can help you decide what area you want to work in and have a look at a day in the life of a career you might not know much about. Willow’s here to walk us through a day in her life and what her job actually entails:
In the morning I drink a lot of water – no coffee or tea for me – so my morning always begins with a large glass of water and my vitamins.
The best part of my job is without a doubt, the team of people that I get to work with every day. They become your family. You get to celebrate during their highs and help them through their lows. We laugh, we cry and we have fun! I wouldn’t change them for the world. Being in my position I also have the greatest joy working to develop my team in their careers and helping them to achieve their goals.
Finding a balance and creating a schedule for the day
Learning how to find balance in a business that runs for 7 days morning and night, where you have a day off and the business keeps going has been a massive challenge. Especially when you are trying to climb the ladder.
What I would say is that balance is relative and it is personal. I read emails in the morning so that I’m already a step ahead when I walk into the restaurant, my team knows that I’m available for them anytime day or night, equally, I know that they are taking care of business when I am not around and to have a night off is not a crime – I have a yoga class every Sunday that I do not miss, this keeps my balance.
I love my yoga and stretching. Being on your feet for most of the day surrounded by people – it’s lovely to have some ‘me’ time.
Networking on your feet
Every day is networking here – whether directly or indirectly. The vision that I translate through my team needs to reach each and every guest that visits us. They may just be a table of two today but this could translate to future events depending on their experience.
I am also very lucky that I have a beautiful venue to assist with all networking events – we tend to invite people to the restaurant and host evenings with canapes and cocktails allowing them to see what we are all about. The key for me is knowing and loving your product – then, you have true passion and excitement when talking to people about it – your confidence comes from having the answers at the tip of your tongue and believing in them.
Trying to stay healthy when surrounded by food
I work in a restaurant, surrounded by food, working long hours, sometimes you just crave sugar or comfort (or both). What have I learnt after all these years? Just make sure that there is balance and make time to eat. For years I put work first and would just eat when I ‘had time’ – your body needs fuel to work at it’s best. I have worked with nutritionists and personal trainers – they have opened my eyes up to eating in a better way for my body and the importance of putting myself first. There is always time.
No day is the same
In all honesty, I can’t remember the last time I had an average day. Every day in hospitality is different – the only guarantee is that there is a time that the doors open and a time that they close. Outside of that, it’s up for grabs.
That is what I love about it – you could write the best plan for your day/week but then you arrive at work and one of your team needs five minutes with you, or a fridge breaks, the bathrooms flood, your meat delivery doesn’t arrive on time, there is a transport strike and no-one can get in, the fire alarm goes off mid-service…you have to think on your toes, problem solve, coach and counsel PLUS, run a restaurant, deliver incredible service and look after your guests.