Interview with – Lee McDonagh, Operations Director Handmade Pubs

December 22, 2017

Who are you and what is your current job role?


Lee McDonagh; Operations Director and Development Director for Handmade Pubs


How did you get to this position…what was the pathway and what did you do before?


Through a personal contact; we went for a coffee and just clicked. I was previously with Geronimo Inns for a number of years having progressed through that business.


What are the challenges in this job?


Almost everything! The biggest challenge is the cultural change, building a structure and processes, which is the backbone of everything we do here.

Who has influenced you the most in your career and why?


My biggest influence would be Maggie Thatcher. She is inspirational; she wasn’t afraid to stand up for what she believed in, to challenge things or to speak out. She wasn’t afraid of becoming unpopular. I can relate a lot to her.


What do you do to switch off?


I enjoy cooking, reading, planning holidays and am getting back into the gym again.

Any Pearls of Wisdom or strategies for success that you would like to share?


Believe in yourself, choose your battles and “Blink it!” (Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking, 2005)

How do you feel about the current VAT reduction argument for the Hospitality sector? 


I think operators need to get better at what they do; at providing a better service, a better product and a better experience rather than discounting. They are all too focused on their profit margins and are looking to get something back. The smaller operators can do this so why not the big organisations. Take the first recession; I was with Geronimo and we worked twice as hard to retain our customers through added value, better staff training and better standards. We refused to discount anything and look how well we did.

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