Hello, I am Ashley Gibbs - Pilot, Manager, Diver




All my working life I have been involved with management at different levels.

I started my management career in Supermarkets with the Fine Fare Company, a part of Associated British Foods in Hertfordshire, England.
I trained as a manager for two years, managing departments, ‘Goods-Inwards’, Warehouse, Grocery (Shop Floor), Evening Team, as well as learning skills with fresh foods and assisting the department managers in Greengrocery, Provisions (Delicatessen), Butchery and Fish Department.

After my training I specialised in Stock Control (Ordering, both computerised & manual, and Merchandising), Cash Control, Security and Troubleshooting within the company’s other stores.
I was a member of a team that would travel anywhere in the South East Corner of England during the weekend and ‘Blitz’ a troubled store, putting it – business wise, back on track.

I was spending £4million a year (but making a healthy profit), at the tender age of 21.

Fine Fare, at that time the most profitable supermarket per square foot of sales space, was sold by ABF to the Dee Corporation so that a bid could be made for United Biscuits.
The Dee Corporation was the parent company of Gateway Supermarkets and bought Fine Fare to make their company more efficient and profitable, unfortunately the Gateway Management had different ideas.

After installing outdated systems within the Fine Fare organisation, decreasing the overall efficiency of the organisation and reducing the quality of service I left the company to look for another job, along with ¾ of the other Fine Fare staff.

I entered Hotel Management by accident, or divine intervention depending on your point of view.
After leaving Fine Fare I answered an advertisement in the Jobcentre for a Full Time Barman, 5 day week, split shifts – I thought it would be a Pub Job that keeps me working until I acquired a ‘proper job’.

The job was in the Harpenden Moat House, part of the Queens Moat Houses Group.
I asked if I could enter management, after retraining, and was placed on a Management Course after a 3 month trial period.
My practical training included; Chef, Restaurant (both plated & silver service), Cocktail Bar, Housekeeping, Front of House, Back of House, Controls and Finance.
My theoretical training was at Westminster College in London (one of the best hospitality colleges in the world) and Brighton College of Technology (a Sussex University Course), covering the theoretical side of all the practical training as well as Senior Management Techniques, Advanced Finance and Allied Subjects.
I finished with an industry based senior management qualification equivalent to a BSc hons in Hospitality Management.


My first position, after completing my studies, was as General Manager for the Leek Wooton Country Club, a strange post for a newly qualified manager because I was employed to close the Country Club without incurring a loss. Before I arrived the Club was making a large loss, but with careful marketing and controls, the club was closed making a profit and a final stock of less than £100 value.
I held the liquor and gaming licence for the club.

I continued working for the parent company (developers) as Facilities Manager & hospitality consultant, for a few months before moving North to Scotland.
During this time I held the liquor licence for the Seedy Mill Golf Club.


I went to Wormit in North East Fife, to be Assistant Manager of the newly purchased Sandford Country House Hotel.

I started work at the Hotel, formerly the Sandford Hill Hotel, when 3 partners bought it (2 of which worked on the site). It was a Scottish Tourist Board ‘3 Star’ property about to be down-graded to a ‘2 Star’ property. I was part of the team that upgraded it, after take-over, to a ‘4 Star Highly Commended’.

The hotel was upgraded in the rooms, restaurant, bar and facilities areas, serving the local business & private community, tourist market and international military market.

During my time at the Sandford a number of major events were organised by the Managing Director and I helped plan & organise the events: We had the annual haggis shoot, a charity event involving a shoot (of haggis) on the ‘glorious 12th’ and associated competitions between the branches of the military services.
Also we were the base for the British section of the European tour of the American General in charge of the USAF, mainly held in Scotland.

I worked at ‘the Sandford’ for three years and finished as Executive Assistant Manager.

I returned to the South of England, better chances of obtaining a higher management position.

I held two temporary positions, Food and Beverage Manager in the Hotel l’Horizon – Jersey and General Manager (licensee) of the Cheddar Gorge Hotel (in receivership) for a property management company, until…..

I went to work for the French International Company, Sodexho, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


I went out to Riyadh to work as the Project Manager in charge of the Philips & LM Ericsson Joint Venture contract. My brief was very simple, save the contract and improve all areas of service.

My areas of responsibility were Western Catering (a 140 cover restaurant that also catered for parties of up to 500), Asian Catering (feeding the support staff of over 250 mainly South Asian & Philippino men), Supermarket (there was an onsite supermarket, catering for all residents and residents of neighbouring compounds), Housekeeping (Housekeeping and Janitorial services to the whole compound, 250 Houses, Public Areas – including all sports facilities, Laundry Services, 4 Large Offices, Gardens – 7 Hectares - & all Support Areas) and limited Childcare. Also I was responsible for financial and control management.


My locations in Riyadh.

After being in Saudi Arabia for three years I was part of the team that implemented ISO 9002 within the company, the first catering company to obtain ISO accreditation in the whole of the Middle East.

My main job was to proof read & rewrite the company manual and procedures.

The beginning of my fourth year had me handed another contract, the Dywidag compound, catering & supermarket services.

The end of the fourth year was a good time for me, promotion to General Manager of the Philips & LM Ericsson Compound, working for NCMS and the new client (owners of the compound), a tricky situation but manageable – whilst maintaining my other contracts.
During this time I controlled the overall refurbishment and upgrading of the compound, the marketing of the compound – the compound was renamed ‘The Riyadh Village’ and daily ops.

My last two years in Saudi Arabia had me promoted again and working as an Operations Manager for NCMS in the Riyadh Region, clients included my previous responsibilities (I stopped being the General Manager of the Riyadh Village), as well as the French Corner Restaurant & its contracts, Kawasaki Helecopter, Saudi Franzi Bank, IKEA, ExxonMobil and I helped support the Saudi Aramco Project in Tanajib.

I was responsible for daily operations, quality control, staffing, discipline, financial planning and project development, in each of my contracts.
I had a staff averaging 250 during my time as Operations Manager.

Other responsibilities had me evaluating and cutting non-profitable contracts as well as helping establish the upgraded ISO 2000 manual & procedures guidelines.

After completing my flying training I have returned to Sodexo in Indonesia, whilst still looking for work as a Commercial Pilot.
I am the Area Operations Manager in Kalimantan (Borneo) and at present manage contracts on 4 Rigs (1 Jack up, 1 Semi Submersible & 2 Tender Barges) & a mine.
I have also managed all the Indonesian operations from Jakarta during 2007 & worked in Malaysia early 2008 starting the offshore business there.


I saved the contract, immediately improved all services and brought the relationship between NCMS (Sodexho Saudi Arabia) and the Joint Venture back to its former friendly status.

Less than a year after arriving in Saudi Arabia I was given another location, a small American compound, only providing catering services for the residents.

Six months later I was handed another location to manage, the British UK Ministry of Defence Compound, providing staff for individual houses as well as the social club and operating & expanding the catering facility. The food service was revamped from the previous operator and renamed “Astra’s”.