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Brits Abroad – Jack Coleman, restaurant, bar and room service manager, Oitavos hotel, Portugal

28 December 2012 by
Brits Abroad – Jack Coleman, restaurant, bar and room service manager, Oitavos hotel, Portugal

Jack Coleman is the restaurant, bar and room service manager at the Oitavos hotel in Portugal. He explains to Janet Harmer why he enjoys working in a friendly environment where customer service comes naturally

You have now worked in Portugal for eight years. What took you there in the first place? Initially, it was for family reasons, but I also wanted to experience a different type of lifestyle as I've always been a keen traveller. I was keen to get away from the cold London days and thought why not?

What does your current job entail? At the moment I am restaurant, bar, and room service manager at the five-star, 142-bedroom Oitavos hotel in Cascais, near Lisbon. With so many responsibilities, including reducing costs while improving customer care, time management is definitely a must. But I enjoy the challenge of running a large team and increasing motivation on a day-to-day basis, with all the challenges that entails.

What are the biggest challenges of working overseas? It can be frustrating at times with all the bureaucracy. Filling out forms in triplicate and getting to grips with the Portuguese laws can be quiet confusing.

Do you work alongside any other British employees? British no, but there are many people here from other European countries. Lisbon is not as big an expat destination as, for example, the Algarve.

Do you have contact with British expats working in the hospitality industry nearby? Yes, I try to keep in contact with the few that are around. The expat community is small, so you get to know people quite quickly.

What do you most enjoy about working in Portugal? The relaxed atmosphere, definitely. The Portuguese are not at all stuffy, but that is not to say that they are not professional. They have a very friendly way of treating colleagues and clients.

What do you dislike? That's not an easy answer because there's not much I don't like. I think the only thing that comes to mind are the austerity measures that are now in place, with the increase in VAT and income tax, life is certainly becoming more of a challenge.

How did working at the Lanesborough in London prepare you for working in Portugal? Working at the Lanesborough not only prepared me to work in Portugal, but has also put me in good stead to work in any location, worldwide, for the rest of my career. It was my first experience of working in hotels and was probably one of the best you can get in London.

Did you speak Portuguese before working in Portugal and how easy was it to learn the language? I didn't speak a word when I arrived and it took some time to get to grips with the language. I decided to enrol myself in some Portuguese classes, which definitely helped. But to be honest, the best place to learn is on the job.

What is the most significant aspect of working in hospitality in Portugal that you will take back to the UK with you? Friendly attitude towards clients and customer service personified. These attributes really come naturally to the Portuguese.

Do you plan to live and work in the UK again? Yes most certainly. I think the UK has been, and still will be, the place to work. Living in Portugal has been great fun and I have many wonderful memories, but sometime in the future, I would like to move back to the UK.

Is there anywhere else in the world that you would like to work? Yes, Australia and South Africa.

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