Harriet Leigh


Venue Manager, Archie Rose Distilling Co, 85 Dunning Ave, Roseberry


Actual job: Making sure the bar is operating to the best of it's abilities, assisting with the rest of the venue progression, from corporate events to nosily involving myself with every aspect of the brand and venue developement. If you ask my colleagues they'll probably tell you they don't know what I do either.

What are you passionate about? Pretty much everything to do with life: meeting people, eating things, history, music, people. I'm passionate about people who are passionate about things.

What do you live for? Great days full of joy. And that's hospitality in a nutshell. You're right for this job if you live to make other people happy.

What drives you? Challenges and changes. If nothing challenges me I get bored. Ditto if nothing changes.

Who and or what inspires you? People who have drive. I love working off the inspiration of those around me. You know those stock standard questions 'do you work better in a team or on your own?' I'm a team kinda gal. I love working out solutions or recipes with my colleagues. And I always think a drink is more refined when you've bounced the idea off those around you. Another point of view gives you another point of view. For other ideas, if you're stuck, go for a walk. If that doesn't work go to the movies, go to the pub, go to a gallery. Interact. Writer's Block only happens to people holed up in a room waiting for inspiration to strike.

Who has helped you become the person you are? Obviously teachers, parents, my brother, my uncle etc etc etc. I've learnt as much from great colleagues as great bosses. I think every single person you interact with helps. Who are my direct mentors? Mark Symons, Charlie Ainsbury, my brother Toby Leigh, Andy Penney, Dominique Easter, Brendan Keown, Simon McGoram, Rob Bryant, Nigel Weisbaum, Will Edwards. Some of them I worked for, some worked for me, hell some are related to me but they helped me shape my attitude to hospitality. And in actual fact, as one great mentor says, "we're all working together" - Nigel Weisbaum.

What qualities do you value? Honesty, integrity, humour. Strong eyebrows.


"Work harder than the guy next to you. Especially if you're a woman. But it stands as great advice even if you're not. Don't work as hard as you need to, work as hard as you can." 

What change do you want to see in the industry? I want to see the end of this god forsaken prohibition. I want to see the end of the nanny state. I want to see the end of generic bars and generic themes. I want to see the next generation come along and fuck things up. We've become too old, sterile and boring.

What are you or others doing to encourage this change? I'm too old, sterile and boring to change things. I'm too busy looking for my pipe and knickers, sorry slippers, to change things. But I'll stand and give a loud ovation when I see it. And I'll throw rotten fruit at the naysayers. Anyone who knows me knows I need little dissuasion from the latter at the best of times.

What change do you want to see in the world? Without getting too deep on a blog about booze I want to see a time that real issues are the front page of the news instead of this shit we're faced with daily. It's embarassing. Australia only rivals America for newspapers most full of bullocks.

Recall a memorable experience I used to pride myself on separating a fight. I was convinced a girl could break up a fight better than a guy, because a girl (to a certain point) can step into the middle of a fight and use decorum to break things up. But then once upon a time, in the middle of a bar fight, I pulled a broken bottle from the fist of a man about to plunge it into the neck of another. In the same instant he spun around and punched me in the neck. It sent me in a 90 degree plummet to the floor, and just before I blacked out I saw 100 men jump on him. As one told me later 'It's one thing to hit a woman, but NEVER hit a woman that brings the beer". It taught me not to believe my own immortality. It also taught me that there are people paid to put themselves in harms way. And I'm not one of them.

What is your experience as a female in this industry been like? My experience in this industry is hard to isolate in terms of my sex. But I can tell you that hospitality is one of the last bastions of sexism. I have been belittled by barbacks after 15 years in the industry, I've had managers show me their cock (in front of 200 customers) trying to persuade me of my heterosexuality, I've had "favours" from male colleagues who think 'I'm not quite up to it' and all the while I've kept my head up, worked harder and longer and usually ended up promoted beyond those fuckwits. As a female in any industry even in this day and age, you will have people who try to intimidate you. Don't allow it. Know more. Have more patience. You will persevere. You will triumph. Great people always do.