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First Jobs

If only we had known the journey ahead

Words: The Ozone Family

We know we’ve got a long way to go and that there are endless opportunities out there for us still waiting to be discovered. As we lead into our 20th year of coffee roasting, it’s humbling to look back and smile (or grimace) at where we’ve come from. The lessons we learnt from our first jobs are weirdly as relevant today as they were then - if only we had known the journey ahead!

Creative & Projects, UK

James Gurr

When I came to write this piece, I had the realisation, that 2017 is my 30th year working in hospitality.

Day one, twelve years old, I walked into a commercial kitchen for the first time. Dinner prep was in full swing but I didn’t get the chance to take it all in, instead quickly becoming acquainted with the dishwasher. The pile of dirty pots, pans, mixing bowls and chopping boards was already out of control. And, before I knew it – service had started! Even with my head in the sink I could feel the intensity level ramp – movement and noise everywhere. As starters made their way through swing doors, to an unseen restaurant, a new wave of pans hit.


It felt relentless. Servers dumped plates, cutlery and glassware with frightening regularity. Tray after tray after tray. I was sinking fast. By the time coffee was being served I’d amassed an Everest sized collection of dishes. I thought I was going to be there all night.
My saviour came in the form of a young commis chef. He was less than happy about having to bail me out, and he would hold a grudge for months to come.

Hospo lesson no.1 – if you don’t pull your weight, the team suffers. There have been many lessons since and there will be many more to come. Let’s see what the next 30 years bring.

Chief Executive, NZ

Karla Gichard

My first job was a direct result of high school work experience which led to five years working part-time for an accountant, Warwick Williams, while I studied first at High School then University. I was fortunate to land on my feet with a first boss that taught me about the importance of believing in employees, rewarding fairly, and that work was more than just a job. And, I certainly learned some life skills working in a pokey office above a building supplies business and sharing staff facilities with the trades!

While my accountancy career never transpired, instead venturing into marketing and management, the work ethic Warwick inspired have served me well throughout the years, helping shape my approach to management and developing the people around me. And, the financial knowledge and understanding has certainly helped every step of the way too.

Best of all, my first boss is now a regular at Ozone Coffee’s Bean Store café in New Plymouth.

Operations Manager, UK

Lizzie Gurr

Classic Millennial, I was too busy ‘mastering’ every extracurricular activity my parents had heard of to realistically have a job while I was at school (if anyone is ever looking for a tone-deaf Trumpet soloist, amateur modern dance performance or a lyrical poetry reading – look no further).

Turned out, no one wanted to employee an over confident teenager, who is only available once a fortnight, can’t work weekends and is expecting $10 an hour plus a ride home (lol). So I had to figure out a job which worked with my schedule and my Mum gave me the idea to teach younger kids speech & drama, something I had been studying since I was a little kid myself. I charged $10 / hour and asked my Nan if I could teach from her living room, which was closer to town than my own house. I figured out I could actually teach two kids at once which meant $20 / hour. BOOM. And I also figured out that self employment was tough. I couldn’t call in sick, it was really hard to get customers and I had to put in a lot of preparation time ‘off the clock’ when I wasn’t getting paid. Thirteen years later, my life is not so different although I’m sadly no longer accepting cash payments by the hour.

Green Bean and Roasting, NZ

Paul Newbold

Did I know what I was in for when I said yes to a 40 hour a week job at McDonalds at the interview? – no.
Did I expect to learn so much? – not at all.

For a year, I was part of a crew that started at 4am and cleaned and set up the “restaurant’’ and kitchen for the coming day. That was before the age of 24 hour openings, with everything sitting in warmers – burgers were made fresh to order.

Say what you like, McD’s is all over their systems and quality control – laminated operations manuals, protocols, schedules, and relationships with quality suppliers. They had the details down. I’m into details.
Believe it or not, I also learnt some formative hospitality attitudes while working at McDonalds. The franchise owners, Jim and Mary, were ever present and hospitable. If they weren’t out the back ensuring production was on point and at pace, they were literally working alongside us – clearing trays, wiping tables, talking to customers and giving them the best damn hospitality they could.

Contractually, when I worked there, if I came up with the ultimate burger flavour combo idea they owned the IP. Needless to say, I kept my ideas to myself… come over for a burger sometime.