Meet the MD: Antony Michaelides

As the 'oil in the engine that keeps all the parts working together', Antony Michaelides is the MD of Newcastle's Bonbar, located in the heart of the iconic Assembly Rooms. He tells BQ what makes a great business leader.

Describe your role in no more than 100 words.

I’m the oil in the engine that keeps all the parts working together. As the ‘MD’ I am the main link to all departments within the business, though in reality it’s more of a general manager’s role, as it is so hands on.

What is it the company does?

Put simply, we are a conferencing and banqueting venue with a bar, restaurant and late night lounge offering a completely bespoke and tailor-made approach to any event. In short, a destination for all.

What do you believe makes a great leader?

Being driven, motivated and always striving for perfection. Being able to adapt quickly in an ever-changing market place is vital, particularly in the hospitality industry. Also, being able to listen and to never stop learning from others. 

What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

Like many businesses, the 2008 slump was a major milestone for us but we took the decision to invest in the business when everyone else was battening down the hatches. This meant that when things started to improve we had a new business model ready for what was essentially a completely different economy.

How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

Since launching Bonbar in 2013, time off has been few and far between! Once a month I try to meet up with friends in Northumberland to enjoy Clay Pidgeon shooting, which I find is a great way to unwind. We catch up over a few drinks, exchange news and generally switch off from our ‘day jobs’.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Hospitality is in my blood; from the age of four I followed my father around his restaurant asking guests if they were OK and enjoying their meal, so working in the industry was a given from day one for me. 

Any pet hates in the workplace?

I encourage an open dialogue at all times and admire honesty and straight talking in the workplace, so anything which goes against this ethos is a real bugbear of mine.

Where do you see the company in five years’ time?

To grow and to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue as the first choice for any event in the region is a key aim. We have worked hard to reposition the business and so far it has been well received, so we will continue to build on this here in the North East and further afield.

What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Don’t ever stop listening or learning, respect those around you and aim to be the very best at what you do.

Where did you start your career?

Some would say on the restaurant floor at the age of four but my first ‘proper’ job I started in Casino Royal in 1988.

Give us a brief timeline of your career so far.

After studying business at Sunderland Polytechnic I travelled to London and spent three months learning the industry in a  PLC before returning back to the Assembly Rooms, which also had a casino as part of its offering from 1977 through to 1999.

From here I became increasingly involved in the function side of the business – nothing beats hosting a really successful event – there’s nothing quite like the sense of job satisfaction it brings.