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Creative people are drawn to careers and activities that enable them to take responsibility for the design, layout or sensory impact of something (visual, auditory etc). They may be atrracted to the traditional artistic pursuits such as painting, sculpture, singing, or music. Or they may show more interest in design activities, such as architecture, animation, or craft areas, such as pottery and ceramics.

Creative people use their personal understanding of people and the world they live in to guide their work. Creative people like to work in unstructured workplaces, enjoy taking risks and prefer a minimum of routine.

James Sheridan, Restaurant Manager
Tourism & Hospitality

James Sheridan, Restaurant Manager

James Sheridan is the Manager of Ivans Oyster Bar and Grill in Howth., Co. Dublin.  He started working in the restaurant business as a part time job when he was 15 and decided when he left school to pursue a career in the area.  He did the Hospitality and Skills course in Waterford Institute of Technology, where he received a distinction in his final year exams.

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first question!

What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?

There are a few milestones in my career so far,

1- was when I got a job in a pizza restaurant part time while I was in school when I just turned 15. I got the buzz for the industry straight away.

2- was the Failte Ireland Course, "Hospitality Skills" a two year course which got me placements in Dublin's Four Seasons Hotel & introduced me to l'Ecrivain Restaurant.  The course also enabled me to progress on to Degree Level at D.I.T. (Dublin Institute of Technology)

Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?

My parents have always been very supportive in my career moves, they saw I was happy and encouraged me to progress. Also my work friends at l'Ecrivain encouraged me as I showed a keen interest in the industry. They also introduced me to many key players in the hospitality industry. My lecturers in college also did their very best to help me in whatever way they could.

How did you go about getting your current job?

The Restaurant industry is so big in one sense  but small in another, in all quality restaurants we tend to know each other. After training for the world skills competition, there was a new opening here in Howth, Ivans Oyster Bar and Grill. The General Manager was Aiden Myler whom I worked for in l'Ecrivain. I must have impressed him with my attitude and skills because he rang me up and told me of the position. He told me about the concept of the restaurant and I liked it. I started 2 months ago and am enjoying it tremendously.

Describe a typical day?

There is no such thing as a typical day, all days are different, different problems, challenges and of course different customers. The day could go something like this - open the restaurant, managing staff for the day, put them in sections and different work flows, check emails, organising staff rosters, ringing several suppliers to order stock for the week. Service starts, meeting customers ensuring they are enjoying themselves,  handling cash, lodging in safe, ensuring standards are high by all staff, communicating with the kitchen about menus etc and generally problem solving.

What are the main tasks and responsibilities?

Responsible for the smooth running of the restaurant, ensure and improve standards. Working with the head chef and general manager on sales and how to increase them. Hiring and training new staff.

What are the main challenges?

Lots of challenges ensuring that staff are well organised for service and making sure 120 people for dinner are leaving happy, Difficult customers can be hard to deal with.  I find if I listen to them and take appropriate action they will leave happier than they arrived. Getting the right staff and training them can be challenging but if the employee has a good attitude this makes it all worth while

What's cool?

I can take days off together, for example, I could take a Saturday and Sunday off and Monday and Tuesday, back to work on Wednesday night.  I love the buzz of a busy restaurant.  I also love the way regulars know my name - some nights I could know most peoples names. It can be rewarding when your restaurant wins awards. Also when I go out for dinner anywhere I would probably know at least one person working there so I would be looked after very well

What's not so cool?

It's a very demanding job, I have to be well presented everyday. Any problems you have outside the restaurant can't effect you in the restaurant, because customers want to be looked after. I have to be in good form all the time. There can be no such thing as a bad day as I am in direct contact with the public and they want smiling faces.

What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?

I'm very positive in everthing I do.  I have to lead by example as staff are looking up to me for advice. I'm highly motivated which rubs off on staff. Being a well organised person is an advantage as you will be dealing with a lot of paperwork, suppliers and a lot of reservations -  if you're not organised you could lose reservations. A friendly and pleasant manner is a must. There is nothing like a warm welcome.  These are skills you naturally have to have, although quiet people can come out of their shell after a while when they get more confident with customers

What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?

I did business studies and accounting for my leaving cert which was an advantage in college but not essential. A language would have been helpful too.  I didn't do a language so I couldn't go straight into to a degree level course. I always wanted to go to college, but couldn't make a decision -  its hard when your only 17 to make choices. 

I decided to do a two year Failte Ireland Course, this was perfect as it was a blend of practical and theory. This also gave me the right platform to go on to the degree level course in Hotel and Restaurant Management.  As I already had two years done I  jumped into the 2nd Year, which I have just finished.

 I also had four months off where I went travelling, working on south beach Miami as a bartender.

What is your education to date?

Leaving Certificate,  Hospitality Skills 2 years,  BA in Hotel and Restaurant Management,  Certificate in First Aid,  Certificate in Manual Handling, 5 months One on One Training for the World Skills Japan.

What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?

My Certificate and Degree gives me confidence knowing I have them behind me.  Modules such as Management,  Marketing, Human Resources are all helping me to make day-to-day decisions,

What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?

Receiving a Distinction in my Hospitality Skills course. Being the winner of Failte Ireland's Student of the year 2005. I was a part of the l'Ecrivain Team in the year they won numerous awards, Best Restaurant in Ireland, Best Chef, Best Dublin Restaurant.  Winning the National Final in Restaurant Service in 2006.

Working as a Bartender on Miami's South Beach. Being a part of the World Skills Team to represent Ireland in Japan where I won a medal of excellence. Being a part of the opening management team at the Village of Lyons.  The Mill Restaurant where I was Assistant Restaurant Manager - we won the best new restaurant award. I was also very proud to be asked to be part of the management set up at Ivans.

What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?

My personal qualities include a positive attitude and I genuinely like looking after people and making sure they have a good time. I am the same in the restaurant as I am out. 

I'm open minded about everything and try and make the best decision possible. I have patience, such as when training in a new staff member.  I take a lot of pride in whatever I do. I'm slightly ambitious and always striving for something better. If you're prepared to work for it, you will get it.

What is your dream job?

I would like to own a hotel in a big house or castle with about 30 rooms, have a real personal touch about it and have a fantastic restaurant and cosy bar with real open fires and just to work for a few hours everyday and chat to all the guests.

Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?

It is hard work and some days can be long. I have to work weekends but I knew all this when I was choosing this career. Despite this there are a lot of positives. If I need a weekend off,  I can just take it and get another Manager to cover me so that I don't miss out on occasions with my family. I can have days off during the week so I can get a lot of business done. I can have a lie on in the morning when I'm out late. I feel I have a lot of security in this job.  Also there are so many jobs out there so I will never be out of a job. I want to progress all the time, and if you want the same and are capable of doing the job then the opportunities are there for you also.

What advice would you give to someone considering this job?

The best thing about this industry is you can get a job in the local hotel or restaurant, part time, and see if you like it.

Sit down with the manager and have a list of questions prepared. Don't make too many plans, just go with the flow, be nice/positive to everybody and things will go alright

What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?

Nice Warm Personality/People Person, Problem Solver, Organised

What is your favourite music?


What is your favourite film?

Anything from James Bond

What is your pet hate at work?

Customers eating every bit of their food, and then telling me they don't like it.

What is your star sign?


Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?

I always want to learn more. I am still very young, and want to progress in the workplace as the years go on. I would like to continue my studies next year and do a bit of part time study.  With the courses I have done I can now progress to an add-on year on the honours Degree programme and then progress to Masters level.  I'm keeping my options open at the moment.

What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?

Anything hospitailty related, bars, restaurants, hotels, travel agents, or anything where you are in the front line with the customer.

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