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Photo credit: Andrew McCalman/ANU

Photo credit: Andrew McCalman/ANU

XO’s continued success for two CBE alumni

30 August 2018

Greg Lally and Kent Nhan met each other while they were studying at the ANU College of Business of Economics (CBE) and never would have guessed that a few years later, they’d be running one of Canberra’s most successful restaurants, XO. Greg graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce/Science and Kent with a Bachelor of Commerce.

XO opened in October of 2015 and within its first year was already operationally profitable. Owners Greg, Kent and AK Ramakrishna started with a vision for XO that married finesse and rigour, producing a restaurant that has had accolades in Gourmet Traveller and has quickly become a sought-after foodie venue. Although client experience is paramount, Greg says the workplace culture they have fostered is a huge part of their success.

“Our measure of success really revolves around our people – we want to develop a culture where our team never want to leave, while also providing opportunities to develop skills that will set them up for success if they do move on – whether they remain within the hospitality industry or move into other areas.”

Greg and Kent both feel that their studies at ANU have been an essential part of their approach to managing XO and to creating a memorable client experience. Not only have they benefited from a background in accounting, but Greg’s experience in psychology and Kent’s in management courses like Consumer Behaviour have influenced most aspects of their business design.

“From a restaurant’s point of view, we set the consumer’s expectations and have control of their experience – through our service, interactions and interior – so much of it is understanding consumer psychology. All these things you were taught come out in ways you don’t expect.”

The team is now about to open Morning Glory, a restaurant born of the same vision behind XO, but with a focus on daytime dining. They’re expanding their team to 55 staff, including dedicated venue management and a centralised management team. To Greg and Kent, hospitality is their profession and their passion for the industry is palpable in XO.

“During university, hospitality is seen as a stepping stone – a great opportunity and a great place to work while you’re studying – but no more. People forget that there actually is a really positive, fulfilling career in hospitality, should you want it.”

For more information about XO, Morning Glory or CBE programs:

XO Restaurant

Morning Glory

Bachelor of Commerce

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Updated:   30 August 2018 / Responsible Officer:  CBE Communications and Outreach / Page Contact:  College Web Team