How I Got Here: Florence Mae Maglanoc

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Maginhawa Group CEO on the need for greater diversity in hospitality leadership roles

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The CEO of London-based restaurant group Maginhawa on the need for greater diversity in hospitality leadership roles, and grasping the potential of franchise opportunities.

Why restaurants?
I've always been drawn to the dynamic atmosphere of restaurants. For me, it's the blend of the kitchen's energy, the rhythm of service, and the joy of interacting with guests that make every night unique and thrilling. There's a certain magic in the orchestrated chaos of a bustling restaurant that I find truly exhilarating.

Tell us something you wish you had been told at the start of your career?
I wish someone had advised me about the importance of maintaining proper eating habits despite the busy environment. 'Stay away from snacking and the fast food and eat a decent meal when you can' would have been golden advice to sustain energy and health throughout the demanding hours.

What’s your favourite restaurant or group of restaurants?
The Super 8 group has always stood out to me. Their commitment to quality, innovative concepts, and the guest experience resonates with what I value in a dining establishment.

What motivates you?
My team is my driving force. Their dedication and passion are contagious, and they play a huge role in my desire to continuously strive for excellence. And, of course, my family, who has always been my support system.

What keeps you up at night?
The thought of the seven brands under my care and the never-ending line up of meetings the next day. There's a constant stream of decisions to be made, which is both challenging and exciting.

Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to the restaurant business?
Omar Shah, my business partner, has profoundly influenced my approach to the restaurant business. His ability to think outside the box and challenge conventional wisdom has been invaluable in shaping my strategic thinking.

Best business decision?
Opening up Mamasons [Maginhawa's Filipino ice cream parlour brand] in Chinatown was a pivotal move for our business. It was more than just launching a new location; it represented a gateway to numerous opportunities. The success we experienced there bolstered our confidence, affirming our belief in our business model and our team's capabilities. This critical step eventually led us to venture into the West End, a notoriously challenging market to crack. The expansion not only tested our resilience but also strengthened our brand's presence in the competitive culinary landscape of the city.

Worst business decision?
Looking back, one decision I regret was dismissing franchise opportunities without fully grasping their potential. It was a lesson in the importance of thorough analysis and being open to different avenues for growth.

What piece of advice would you give to those looking to climb the rungs in the business?
Adopt a positive mindset and commit to continuous learning. Don't hesitate to seek advice and assistance – no one succeeds in isolation. Building a network of support can be incredibly beneficial.

If you could change one thing about the restaurant industry today, what would it be?
While it's not necessarily a change, I do wish to see more women in high-ranking positions within the industry. Diversity in leadership not only fosters creativity and innovation but also reflects the rich tapestry of our society.

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