As part of our Interview Series with industry experts, today we are speaking to Mr. William Leonard, Group General Manager of The Loco Group. As GM, Mr. Leonard oversees operations for the Mexican Restaurant and Bar Group, which owns establishments such as Super Loco and Lucha Loco here in Singapore. Originally from Australia, Mr. Leonard has over 15 years’ experience in the F&B industry, starting from his first experience working in a nightclub in Brisbane. He has travelled all over the world and lived in cities such as Brighton (UK) and Dubai, before moving to Singapore in 2014. As such, he is proven source of information on how to grow your career in F&B.
Hi Will, thank you for agreeing to this interview! Can you tell us what made you join the F&B industry in the first place?
I’ve been working in F&B since I was 15 years old. I had a friend who offered me a weekend job doing cellar maintenance before moving to glass-collecting at night and finally bartending. Then, like a lot of Australians, I went travelling and settled in England where there’s plenty of F&B jobs for young people all over the world. F&B offers great transferable skills, so I was able to find jobs easily.
What was your career progression to General Manager?
In the UK I continued working in the nightclub and cocktail bar scene and entered cocktail competitions. In 2010 I moved to Dubai where I worked for Emirates Group in casual restaurants. During that time, I learned the commercial aspect of running restaurants: numbers & figures, analysis and all.
I then moved to Singapore where I had the opportunity to work with the Lo & Behold Group, the Hospitality Group where I learned a different side to leadership culture. I grew and learnt in that space and came to appreciate good leadership and the need to inspire others. Last year, 2018 I moved to Loco Group as the Group General Manager.
What do you like most about the F&B industry?
It’s…social, active, fun, creative, and physical! Hospitality is not an exclusive industry; you don’t need to have gone to university to join.
Working in F&B offers great transferable skills; it allows you to move to anywhere in the world and be able to easily find a job. Do you want to experience working in several countries? F&B can offer that.
With that said, is there any advice you could give to anyone who aspires to grow a career in the F&B industry?
Well, firstly, there are lots of segments within to grow a career in F&B: there are independent restaurants, bars, entertainment, hotels, etc. I would recommend young people to work in multiple segments. They need to sample a bit of everything to find which is the one they enjoy the most, before focusing on building a career there.
Secondly, and more importantly, be hungry! There is a lot to learn, hospitality is an industry with a high turnover so in order to move up the ladder, you need to show you want it, work hard and discover as much as you can.
You need hunger to learn in order to grow
What is The Loco Group company culture?
Our values are: Can-lah & leaving a legacy.
We want everyone to be a part of the decision-making process, be able to take ownership and leave a memorable impression on their team and our guests . We always ask our team , “What do you think?” We’re also not called the Loco group for nothing; we’re all a bit crazy!
How is your team different from other F&B teams?
At the end of the day, every restaurant serves food and drinks. The difference? The leadership and culture. We work hard everyday to make our culture the best it can be so that our guest experience can be as memorable as possible for every guest.
It all starts
with me as General Manager: I need to set the example and motivate and
inspire our leadership team to do the same.
What do you look for when you hire?
We look for attitude and mindset: these things are the hardest, if not impossible to train.
Cultural fit is the most important thing to us. We need to hear if you’re a Loco person: what this means is that we need to know that you like to have fun interacting with people. Everything else we can train.
Finally, what are some F&B establishments that you really like in Singapore?
The Lo & Behold Group – I have a lot of respect for them; they have built some timeless concepts and are passionate about their people. I owe a lot of my leadership style and values to the time spent working for them.
Are you interested to explore a career in F&B like Will?
Check out a multitude of F&B and Hospitality jobs on GrabJobs, the industry standard for jobs in these sectors. As Will mentioned, try out different segments and see what works for you! Don’t worry, you don’t need a CV to start applying on GrabJobs!