What is your professional title, purpose or passion?
CEO and Founder of Social Pantry LTD
What did you want to do when you were a child and what changed?
My mum says I wanted to be a butcher or marry Prince Harry. Think I am closer the butcher aspirations!
What's the best career advice you've ever been given?
Keep asking, keep learning, you are not meant to know everything.
What is the best thing about your current working environment?
The diverse skillset of my team I work with is pretty incredible. From chefs, sales, marketing, photographers, digital pro’s, waiters, barista’s, event managers…you name it we have some of the best working at Social Pantry.
Where do you see yourself in five years' time?
In my dreams I am on a beach with a large, cold cocktail in hand but in reality, I will mostly likely still be working, hopefully with a larger team, still delivering some of London’s best food and events. We have a focus on going fully zero waste over the next few years, so I hope that vision has come to life as well.
Tell us more about a charitable organisation or project you think is great.
Now we’re talking…Switchback, Key4Life, Redemption Roasters, Bad Boys Bakery, Clink Restaurants are the main charities and prison organisations we work very closely with. They all help me employ ex-offenders on release from prison.
What drives you?
Delivering some pretty exciting events and running some cool sites over London; this summer in the space of 2 weeks we fed Rhianna (came to one of my cafes WTF!!), Hillary Clinton and Big Dave (Attenborough)....life made!
Any final comments?
If I can do it, then anyone can start a business, project or bring an idea to life, but if you are going to start something make sure you really bloody love it, and then, you’re unstoppable!
What does a normal day look like for you?
Busy! My friend Kirstie and I realised recently that whenever you ask someone how they are, everyone answers ‘busy’…. it’s our new pet hate! Lots happens in a day at Social Pantry, my role is to oversee all my 5 sites and events business so my job can be anything from finance or legal meetings, food shoots and styling, chatting on a podcast or panel, visiting sites, clients or spending a day in prison.
What have you achieved that you feel most proud of?
Just over 4 years ago I committed to employing ex-offenders. 10% of my Social Pantry team are ex-offenders, I am so proud of this achievement. It comes with a fair few challenges but often the most rewarding aspects are the most challenging.
Tell us about a a woman who inspires you
Recently I visited Ballymaloe Cooking school in Cork where, back in 2003 I was lucky enough to spend 3 months, and I loved seeing the brilliant Darina and Rachel Allen again. Their passion for well sourced and homegrown produce and delicious food shines through in everything they do. Darina’s knowledge on all things food really is endless, she is in her 70’s and hasn’t slowed down, a real inspiration. (cookingisfun.ie)
What was your biggest failure?
Being expelled from school at 16 was a definite low moment....(a lot of chocolate mousse and a food fight was involved!)
What do you like most about yourself?
It has taken me a while to like/develop into this, but being confident and direct has helped me within my role over the last few years.
How can we make the world more inclusive and accepting?
For me it is all about giving second chances. I offer jobs the people coming out out of prison as to me they have served their time in custody and there is no need to look back, I have had a fair few second chances and am in a fortunate position where I can help positively change their next steps.
With a few small changes in attitude towards employing people with a criminal record together we can make a big difference. Trust me, if you met some of my team who have done time, they are pretty ambitious, driven and fun, you’d be impressed!
What skills have been key to your journey so far?
Hard work. More hard work. When you think it cannot get any more challenging…..some more hard work is needed.