Leading Ladies: Kori Millar

by Portfolio Magazine
09 Mar 2023

Kori Millar is the General Manager of 67 Pall Mall Singapore

This month, we celebrate some of Singapore’s fearless female leaders who have taken strides to implement change in their respective fields. From sharing their greatest challenges to learning about their leadership style, we find out how they’re making waves and shaking things up in traditionally male-led industries.

My leadership style… is rooted in empathy, kindness, and the nurturing of others. I believe these are values that will flow through your team when they come from you. As we are in the hospitality industry, it is important that we are hospitable and service-centered. It's not about being in charge; rather, it’s taking care of those in your charge. I drive my team by allowing them to find their own feet; I facilitate suggestions and inspire creativity to give them direction and vision. I always believe you should try to be the leader that you wish you had.

My most memorable career challenges and triumphs include… working on something of 67 Pall Mall’s magnitude. I joined the team as the fifth employee of the company. This was a mere six months before opening – in the midst of Covid – and the space was completely bare. I had to oversee the entire renovation and keep up with our CEO Grant Ashton’s engineering-centric brain while my global executive team was situated remotely. Covid made it that much harder due to travel restrictions. The biggest feat here was the building of the 11,500kg, 6-meter-tall wine tower that holds 2,500 of our Club’s wine bottles. And by the time of opening, we had grown the team to 60 employees.

I had delivered on my promise to open our doors for our Member previews by Valentine’s Day of 2022. The date had been chosen by our CEO as a treat for his wife’s birthday. It was ambitious – not only was it one of the busiest days for most F&B establishments, it was also the last day of Lunar New Year. There was no time for practice runs due to Covid and construction delays. We started operations straight away with 4,200 covers over the course of 13 days’ of back-to-back dinner previews for Members.

(Related: Leading Ladies - Zeenath Kuraisha)

I drive my team by allowing them to find their own feet; I facilitate suggestions and inspire creativity to give them direction and vision. I always believe you should try to be the leader that you wish you had.

The most notable changes I’ve noticed in my industry since joining… is that technology has by far been the biggest evolution in the industry. To think that when I started out, we were using manual captain’s orders and we were amazed when we were first able to send a docket to the kitchen with a touch of a button!

I’ve since been a big fan of adopting the right systems as I believe every function and thing has to have its own space and infrastructure – everything has to have a ‘home’ and belong somewhere. It is important to implement the right tools for people operate systematically and effectively. The power of technology has improved our efficiency, and the way we collect and report data improves the business. I am big on sharing valuable information with our people as it helps steer the organization in the right direction.

The most fulfilling aspect of my role as a woman is… when you realise you get to change lives, providing opportunities to your team to be part of a bigger picture, of a global blueprint. For instance, for 67 Pall Mall Singapore, we get to send our team to our flagship in London and broaden their perspective when perhaps they might not previously have had the means to step foot outside of Asia before. We also focus a lot on education like WSET, which is knowledge they will have for a lifetime.

It is a full circle moment sometimes when I meet people who I’ve worked with, and they remember stories from our past or the small things like my favorite wine. It shows you’ve made an impact on their lives.

For young women who are about to join the workforce, my advice is to believe in yourself. We work in a Man’s World, and women in our field have to trust our gut and instinct. Taking that initial leap when going into your own business or a new role can be daunting. You have to reinforce to yourself that you can do it. Write your own vision-mission and make that your mantra. If you fail, face your fears, get up and do it all over again. My life experiences taught me that to truly succeed in this industry, you need to have worked in all areas and departments. There is no such thing as doing things half-way. You need passion, a drive for perfection, and, most importantly, dedication. Finally, remember to keep learning – everyone has different skillsets and we are all learning from each other. Always provide the best resources for your team to thrive and set them up for success.