February 19th 2020
Meet Matěj: The Travelling Barman
by Ella Nobre-Wachter Success Stories
For our next Success Story, we sat down with Birmingham team member Matěj to learn about his Off to Work journey. He has extensive experience in hospitality, starting from age 15 when he worked as a catering assistant in the Czech Republic. Read about the valuable leadership skills he learned in Saudi Arabia and his plans for continuing his work within hospitality with help from Off to Work.
Missed the last Success Story? Catch up with Coleman here.
I came across Off to Work a few years ago, while working as a bar manager at the NEC Birmingham, and going to the same venue for work every day was getting a bit monotonous. During bigger events, we would often come across team members from Off to Work.
Whenever I’d chat with them, I was always impressed at the variety of work they were doing. From the Cheltenham Festival to Aston Villa football club, I was really jealous. When lots of my friends started joining Off to Work, I decided to give it a go myself.
I really love working at the stadiums as I’m a big football fan. Even though you don’t always get to see the games, the atmosphere is really great and you often get to meet the football players themselves. The best person I’ve met was probably Adama Traoré, one of Wolverhampton's best players; I’ve met and had nice chats with him a couple of times at the stadiums.
Matej at the 'Peaky Blinders' themed Team Awards last year
I’ve been picking up a lot of supervisory and managing shifts at Off to Work recently, so I would say the biggest skill I’ve learned is leadership. I’m now much better at motivating teams; often we have to work long shifts, so sometimes people are tired or not having the best time or the best attitude. You have to deal with that and motivate your staff in order to help deliver the best experiences for your customers.
When we went to work in Saudi Arabia for a conference, all the team leaders, including me, were assigned seven members of waiting staff. A lot of them were not English-speaking and we had three days of training in preparation for a conference dinner, so we had to figure out ways to train them. It was a challenge, but they were nice people and at the end of the day, they were there to work, just like us.
Over the course of the three days of training in Saudi Arabia, I managed to find alternate ways to communicate with the non-English speaking members of staff. I managed to teach them how to provide the service: where to stand, how to serve, how to clear, where to drop cutlery, what route they needed to walk. It was a struggle at times, but it was very rewarding and it gave me a lot of confidence in how to train people despite the limitations.
Off to Work does Saudi (Matěj, bottom right)
Hospitality is something I really enjoy so I want to stay on track with it. I first started working at a catering company in the Czech Republic at 15 years old, where they would send me to all sorts of different places and I got to meet lots of people. I would say these kinds of environments are where I’m at the happiest and feel more myself.
I’m currently giving myself five years to get my own business up and running. I’m hoping to set up a mobile bar so that I can work at venues and events all across the country… and potentially the world. Maybe Off to Work can help me with supplying the staff!
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