Pioneer in global hospitality consultancy
Born in Portugal and educated in Switzerland, Gibbs is a true citizen of the world, having travelled extensively and working in the hospitality industry in several countries, from Austria to the USA. It was during these travels that she acquired a true passion for quality luxury services and a love and desire for opening new and impactful venues.
Create Generate concept was built while Gibbs was working for the best hotel and restaurants in London. She identified a huge gap in the market for good operators in London and worldwide. Building an impressive roster, Gibbs’ first A to Z project was Terry Venables’ La Escondida Hotel in Spain, resulting in the nomination of one of the 15 best new hotels in the world within its first year of trading. The company is now currently working side-by-side with Harry Handelsman, Richard Caring, Nick Jones and others.
Cheila Gibbs says: “The successful process of an F&B operation is imperative to the hospitality industry. Many businesses, both big and small, have little to no understanding of what it takes to open a successful F&B Operation. Our job is to make the owners and the businesses shine. At Create Generate we absolutely love the chaos of an opening. I really love what I do.”
She has successfully opened, managed and transformed some of the most talked-about restaurants, hotels and members clubs, including Bistro du Vin, Soho House’s Dean Street Townhouse, Pizza East in Shoreditch and Notting Hill, Burger & Lobster and West 36 — to name but a few.
Gibbs shows no signs of slowing down with multiple and continuing plans in the pipeline: returning from LA to open the AllBright Women’s Members Club – where we will be focussing on its extensive worldwide expansion, as one of the main speakers at Pure Life Experience, she is currently off to Greece to look at a group of luxury hotels. She has also recently been appointed as F&B advisor at HIP Hotels where the role will be to offer support to all the hotels in the group struggling with the F&B side of the business and with Richard Caring’s group to restructure the business.
On the side, Create Generate is also creating a low calorie champagne label made for woman, which is set to launch in early 2022. Gibbs claims, “One should never feel guilty when having a glass or a bottle of champagne.”
Was it also tough being a woman in hospitality? Cheila says she had to be strong and confident to get ahead in the male-dominated industry. She had no excuses to hide behind and had to assert herself boldly to ensure that her voice was heard and respected in London, one of the hospitality capitals of the world. She was aware that the only way to overcome adversity was to work harder and longer than her competitors.”
And she achieved this first by balancing her home and work. A mother of two adult children, Cheila lives with her husband in Surrey. One of the top film sound designers in the world, he grounds her and provides her with the space she needs to be a pioneer in hospitality consultancy.
Through the years she’s also learned to put herself first, so that she could be better for the days that roll into weeks and months, where days off are never an option. She’s had to deal with prejudice, discrimination and sexism, but that has never defined her, and it is a battle she overcomes with grace.
How can women achieve a prominent role in their organizations? Cheila believes, “Being a man or a woman is not a factor in determining your commitment, knowledge, understanding of a business or personal success. A fail-safe strategy to get ahead is to be flexible, open and honest to what you can commit to. You do not get to be the best without being organised, assertive and realising that your best resource in a business is people. Your teams can be your biggest threat or your greatest blessing.”
As a woman leader, what has been the most challenging barrier in your career? Recalls Cheila, “People wondered if I could lead and hold my own as a woman. This underestimation of my abilities became a secret weapon in my arsenal of tools for success. When starting on a multi-million pound hotel & restaurant opening, seating at the head of the table with 20 burly builders all looking perplexed. Within the first five minutes of my speaking, they know I have earned the right to sit there.”
Cheila takes inspiration from Michelle Obama, Richard Caring, Nick Jones, Indra Nooyi, the founders of AllBright and Margret Hardenbroeck. However the people who inspire her the most are her teams. They have to keep Cheila’s pace, wake when she does, sleep when she does, act before she thinks and always be on top of their game. She has deep appreciation and genuine love for those that surround her.
Yet her biggest passion is mentoring young women who are a huge source of untapped business acumen, she feels. She makes herself available to anyone who needs advice to develop their career or business.