Lance Brown






About Lance Brown

 As his secondary schooling came to its end Lance Brown had already decided that he wanted to ‘run a pub’. He liked the idea of being behind the bar, entertaining and serving beer to all his friends. He came for his interview dressed in his Carey Grammar Uniform late in 1979 and was accepted a few weeks into the start of the school year in 1981. “I had already started reading the English texts”, he remembers.

 Lance completed a Certificate of Catering and says it was a requirement to do 2000 hours of industry work. He had a job at The Old Melbourne Hotel and often came to lectures after coming off a night shift. “You had to be very dedicated,” he remembers.

 At the end of 3 ½ years Lance knew two things: that he loved the industry and had not been deterred from following a career in hospitality like many of the other students, and that he did not want to own a pub. Instead he travelled overseas and landed a job managing the internal crews of luxury yachts cruising the Mediterranean. This was an amazing job.

 When he came back to Australia he worked for the Keg chain and from there he opened the Melbourne Exhibition Centre. Not long after that, he was approached by coffee company Douwe Egberts, to work as an Account Manager. Within six weeks he was the Southern Manager and State Manager. Lance adds that he had no knowledge of coffee and no knowledge of sales! After seven years he moved to National Foods – now Lion – as National Account Manager of Commercial Coffee. He has been in this role at Lion Foods since 2005.

 Lance still sees fellow students in his management role – many are clients of Lion. He says, ‘It is amazing to see the paths that people have gone on … some have diversified and others have left hospitality. But they all use the skills they learned at William Angliss.

 Lance remembers parking his car at Spencer Street Station – illegally – and having beers after work at the pub on the corner and sharing the yard at lunch time with butchers with their bloodied aprons and prim and proper hairdressing students. But the best thing he learned was that he wanted to stay in the industry. “I loved it!” he concluded.

Summary of the Interview

Interviewer: Jill Adams
Interviewee: Lance Brown
Date of Interview: 03/10/2011
Recording Format: MP3  





Student life at WAI

  • Officially started in as a student in 1981; early memories of student butchers and hairdressers
  • first interview in 1979 and in 1980 was accepted but finished year 12
  • Enrolled in the Certificate of Catering program which involved an industry work experience component (2000 hours)
  • Work experience at the Old Melbourne Hotel  (3 months rotation, over a year)  which helped him to work out whether he wanted to go on and be in the industry
  • Studied and worked part time and he often came straight from work to WAI and the pressure saw many drop out (of 200 people that started in the certificate only a few graduated)
  • The course was a mixture of the Diploma (of Hotel Management) subjects and catering and it was 2 years full-time (with part time work it took 3 ½ years), he finally graduated in 1985
  • Had aspirations of working in a pub originally which changed after working at the Old Melbourne when he realised that wanted to be in the hospitality industry but not in a pub or a restaurant as industry experience showed him the reality of working awful hours (70 hours a week)
  • After WAI found a job on a boat crew and worked for Alan Bond on his motor yacht in Antibes, France
  • Worked as interior crew on a few boats and it became a good way to stay overseas and earn money
  • Studying at WAI was such a great environment like-minded people (a fun place to be) the course was very good mix of real practical and theory based skills
  • Certain stages in the course when it became a little frustrating as students seemed to know more about hospitality than the teachers and they were eager to get out in the workforce
  • The prestige of graduating from WAI during this time was high, and employers knew that students were the ‘cream of the crop’, it was a really good base to step up from
William Angliss Institute (WAI); William Angliss College; TAFE; Carey Grammar School; HSC; Certificate of Catering; Old Melbourne Hotel; Diploma of Hotel Management; Pub; boat crew; Alan Bond; Motor Yacht; Antibes; France; Interior Crew; Mediterranean; Chef; cookery core subjects;  


Career Highlights

  • Hospitality jobs were varied, he worked as a waiter in different places then got into a fast track program with the Keg Chain that was structured and intensive about the hospitality industry and worked there for five
  • Then he got a job as key accounts manager at Douwe Egberts Coffee and six weeks into the job was promoted to State (or Southern Manager)
  • Now with National Foods (Lion) and still in the coffee industry, six years on
Leonda; function waiter; restaurant waiter; Peter Rowland; Como Centre; Toorak Road; Chapel Street; Keg Chain of Restaurants; Whitbread UK; hotel industry; dish pit; salad tender; grill cook; broiler cook; appetizer cook; modules; back of house; front of house; manager; assistant manager; liquor manager; general manager; human resource manager; Melbourne Exhibition Centre; Douwe Egberts; National Foods (Lion)


Insights on the Coffee Industry & WAI

  • Not much in the course about coffee at WAI, mostly focused on how big you could make the froth on top
  • No training or no support in the early 1990s and coffee was just starting to develop in Melbourne when he was at the Keg, a big leap to espresso machines from ‘wet spoon’ coffee
  • Accredited coffee judge in Australia and travels to competitions
Coffee industry; froth; ‘wet spoon’ coffee; International Roast; Moccana; Australia; Maxwell’s; expresso machines;


Memories of Student Life at WAI

  • The campus in the early days (1981) was a mix of eclectic students; cool hospitality students, hairdressers, butchers with their bloody aprons, and travel and tourism people; lots of good friends in those days
  • Amazing to see the paths that people who were at WAI have gone on to do (exotic, ambitious roles in hospitality industry)
  • There are only a few who have stayed in the industry mostly diversified into other things
Campus; Hospitality students; hairdressers; butchers; travel and tourism; IHG Hotel Group; healthcare catering; hotel general managers; group or regional GM; Thailand; resorts;


Memories of working on a boat

  • Working on a luxury cruise Yacht and looking after the needs of the guests by suggesting places the people would like to visit
  • An amazing life experience
Luxury yacht; Jersey; France; stewards; Mediterranean


Reflections on WAI Experience

  • Most have left the industry and his closest friends have gone out and done other things, but the skills they learned at WAI were crucial to their success
  • Remembers that he used to park at Spencer Street Station (illegally) and having beers after work, and he made great friends and really enjoyed his time
  • Is a member of Alumni but doesn’t attend any events
  •  Some great teachers and interesting subjects
  •  The best thing about studying at WAI was that it helped him to decide whether or not he truly wanted to be in hospitality, and even after all his years he still loves the industry
Spencer Street Station; Golden Age; Peter Filshce; Graham Brown; Tony Nicholls; Evelyn Thomas; data management; Alumni


Interview concludes


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