Honestly, it wasn’t supposed to turn out like this.
I had a plan. I had a target. I knew exactly what I wanted to do, and was on the path to do it.
Just a few weeks ago, I graduated from the University of Hong Kong’s Masters of Business Administration program. By this time, I was supposed to have secured a place at some corporate desk job with the kind of ambitious salary that only MBA graduates have the balls to ask for. I was supposed to stick around at said desk job for about 5 years, during which I would be building my war chest for a little business I had been kicking around in my mind. During my off-time, I was supposed to hit cocktail bars and spirit shows around the world to keep my finger on the pulse of the beverage industry.
As you may have guessed, that doesn’t seem to be happening.
As of November, I have been taken on as the full time, long term bar manager for Le Comptoir Group’s latest and most ambitious venue, The Ocean.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was the last to see that coming. Having racked up only five years of part time experience, one would hardly expect someone with my resume make that jump from bartender to manager. Some might even say that I haven’t paid my dues yet.
True, I don’t have as many stories from behind the bar to tell. True, I don’t know what to do when a patron throws a fit and refuses to pay the bill (or rather, as of last week, didn’t know). True, I haven’t quite picked up the best way to milk a patron for all he’s worth.
But then again, managing a bar, as I’ve learned, is mostly an administrative job; rather than mixing drinks, most of my time is spent filling forms and doing the accounts, sending emails and looking for the best prices. Its almost the kind of sedentary and monotone job that I’ve come to despise, yet excel at, for most of my working life.
Had it been, I certainly wouldn’t have taken the offer. Despite all the hoops I have to jump, all the boxes I have to tick, I still get to take each day as its own unique entity. I still get that rush when the printer spits out a stream of tickets, I still find myself doing something totally non-routine every week. When thats the sort of thing that makes you feel alive, how could I do anything else?
That was the question I kept coming back to as I neared graduation day. As I weighed my options, I realized that I was never looking forward to starting with A Corporation, or Company B. I found myself considering jobs on the basis of which would best allow me to work a few shifts at a bar at night. All the reasons I fell in love with this industry were the same reasons I couldn’t leave it. I decided to go all-in.
So here I am, at my first full-time bar job, and as a manager at that. My parents hate it, naturally, but then most Asian parents aren’t satisfied unless you become a lawyer or doctor. My five year plan has gone to pieces, but this path I’ve chosen can still take me to the same place. But most importantly, I think I’ve made a decision that will make me happy, and its a choice I will stand by.