It was probably the force-feeding of obscure foods (especially cheese) that compelled me to study Agriculture & Food Industry Management at Wye College, University of London. An oddly named course, but one that covered farming and production as well as sales and marketing.
After graduating, I joined Burnham International, a niche freight and distribution business, managing the distribution of financial and annual reports across the globe. Following an MBI in 2000, I remained as a non-equity director until 2002.
Since then, I have worked with the Guild of Fine Food and have been closely involved in the development of the Guild’s trade magazines Fine Food Digest, Great Taste book and Good Cheese as well as the Fine Food Shows and the Guild’s two major food awards, Great Taste and World Cheese. I have developed cheese and charcuterie training programs for Fortnum & Mason and Harrods and also a deli-business course “Retail Ready” for aspiring food retailers.
What can you offer as a mentor?
I’ve kind of spent my whole life in fine food having grown up amongst our family business. I was staging cheese at the WCA when I was 14. Understanding the fabric of the entire trade and having a pretty good contact list is useful to a fledging food producer. I have a unique perspective on publishing, exhibitions, training and award scheme within our market. In my life before food I was involved in the sale of Burnham International to a VC company, which was useful experience in itself.
I can share my understanding of small, family businesses and what that means both personally and professionally.
What would you do differently if you had your time again?
Not much, but would love to have learnt an instrument.
Managing Director, The Guild of Fine Food