The Leadership Conference 2019
Thursday 9th May 2019
The Gleneagles Hotel, Auchterader, Perthshire
Q: What will your talk at the HIT Leadership Conference focus on? Can you tell us a bit about what attendees can expect?
A: Growing in hospitality: as hard as it gets. I will be talking about the journey of our business. The journey of a business that started small with one unit and 30 employees and how in 8+ years it has grown to 6 sites and 400 employees. The idea is that I will share our experience with people who are facing or will one day face the jump of going from one site where everything is under your control, to multiple sites where you can only achieve proportionally to how good your people is.
A review of our story, marketing, our people, our challenges and our solutions. We want to give the tools to those out there to be ready to face the ultimate challenge: growing in the hardest industry out there.
Q: You’ve had an interesting career, how does a lawyer and end up running such a successful hospitality business?
A: Once a good friend of mine (Mr Forrest Gump) said to me: “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get”... And he was right. I ended up where I am today purely because I have followed my heart on the decisions I have made along the way, embracing the risks that every choice has. Whilst studying law I ended working in Marketing. Then moved to the UK with my wife for what was going to be a couple of years whilst she was finishing her studies. Started working in Marketing here in the UK managing the client side. Eventually met Robert, one of my business partners, who was a restaurateur. He convinced me to join him on this venture and the rest is history. (There is a lot more on the story, but I wanted to fit all the answers in a page!)
Q: You’ve got some fantastic companies on your CV. What have been the highlights for you?
A: My CV is just a few words put together to try to explain the journey I am in. The reality is that every moment, and every job I have done up until today, have forged me and given me great moments. I don’t like choosing snapshots of success and even if I wished to do it I don’t think I could because at different stages of our life we value things in different ways.
Q: If you could give your 16 year old self one piece of career advice, what would it be?
A: I would give myself one but the world another one. To me: Slow down! To the world: Follow your heart! (Money and success only work if you are happy doing what you do)
Q: Where does your love of the hospitality industry come from?
A: When I was 10 or 11 I wanted to be a chef, like Francis Mallmann (I loved him!). I remember that at 14 I cooked a duck a l’orange for some friends thinking that was it! But from that, my wishes and dreams changed rapidly, and I started thinking much more corporate. Went on to study law, dreaming on being a marketing manager. Until I started working in the Fazenda adventure I didn’t really understand the industry. I loved earning well and enjoying wine, but more as a social experience with friends. But once I started working in it and started understanding it more, I fell in love! Because I love people!
Q: Who or what influences you? Which living person do you most admire?
A: I am constantly influenced by many things. I feel the world very much! I mean, I am very empiric. I have a vision of a better world and I just try to do the small little things I can, from trying to raise children that are better than me to creating a work environment that can make both our team and guests happy, and then I try to make the small changes at a bigger level that I can. I am not a rainbow warrior (although many times I wish I was), but I do believe that it is with the little things that we can make this world a better place.
I admire loads of people, all of those who really devote their lives to greater good causes are up there, but I also admire people who fight... Robert, my business partner came back from nothing a few years ago to where he is today. He could have chosen oblivion, but he chose salvation!
Q: What would be the one piece of advice that you would give to hospitality leaders who are looking to further their career?
A: Hospitality is not about serving food or providing accommodation, it’s about making people happy! So if your team is happy your guests will be happy. To those of you who are not in the industry I would say: This is much harder than what any of you can ever imagine, so don’t jump at it thinking I can have my own bar or restaurant unless you really understand what you are signing up for.
Lawyer turned businessman, Tomás has been the driving force behind Fazenda's success, including the introduction of sister brand Picanha. They have expanded north into Edinburgh and most recently saw the opening of Fazenda Birmingham. Leading the business through strategic and relationship marketing, Tomás has established himself as a forward-thinking leader, demonstrating his innate passion for food, drink, & hospitality.
Tomas will focus on: modern business skills