LAUNCHING: 
LOUISE HOLSTEIN

Company:

OW Loeb / Mike’s Table

Time at the company:

3 years / 6 months

THE BIG QUESTIONS

WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSIONAL TITLE?

At OW Loeb I am the Head of Operations (Previously Operations Controller at MARC Fine Wines) and six months ago I became the Founder of Mike's Table.

WHAT DO YOU DO ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS?

At OW Loeb I oversee all aspects of the day-to day running of a busy wine merchant, importing wines from all over the world and selling them to restaurants throughout the UK, independent wine shops and to Private Clients.  I head a team of five who each look after different aspects of the business e.g. sales support, stock control, purchasing, and I work with them to ensure efficiency, compliance, smooth process and their own professional development.

WHAT DID YOU WANT TO DO WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD?

I really wanted to work in the arts.  I loved drawing, poetry and music and went to arts school, then went on to study film production.  I worked as a film and sound editor for several years before moving into food and wine.

WHAT ACADEMIC QUALIFICATIONS DO YOU HAVE?

I have the usual array of O and A levels, a BA(Hons) and a Masters degree.

WHAT’S THE BEST CAREER ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?

I really didn't want to go to university and had set my sights on being an artist and my mum said I could go to arts school as long as I stayed on to take my A levels.  It was such good advice as having a solid further education has enabled me to make career changes possible.

WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL AND WHY?

I don't have a specific role model.  I am always drawn to people who enjoy what they do.  I admire passion as it leads to commitment and contentment as well as driving ambition.  I love seeing people happy in their work.

WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT YOUR CURRENT WORKING ENVIRONMENT?

I am so enjoying seeing younger staff, especially young women, getting their teeth into their roles and flying with new ideas and approaches.  I will always take ultimate responsibility but it’s a great feeling to let the more hands-on aspects of operations be undertaken by my team members, leaving me time to develop projects and longer term plans.  Happily I can afford, financially and time wise, to work just four days per week.  I use the fifth day to develop my own side project, Mike's Table CIC.  This is a non-profit company that runs supper clubs.  Our evenings come in pairs, the first is for paying guests which funds the second evening whereby guests are invited to enjoy exactly the same restaurant experience but for free. These guests are referred through charities and organisations supporting those in recovery from homelessness, illness or addiction, refugees, those on low income and the socially isolated.  Our professional chefs always devise the menus on the night using food that would otherwise go to waste. It’s very exciting.  We've been going 6 months now and its fantastic fun and extremely rewarding. 

WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE ABOUT YOUR DAILY WORK ROUTINE IF YOU COULD?

At the moment I very happy with 4/1 day working week.

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF PROFESSIONALLY IN FIVE YEARS’ TIME?

I hope that Mike's Table grows and grows and that I will be running a successful and thriving non-profit organisation.  I do wonder if I'll manage to continue with my day job - I hope so.

DO YOU FEEL YOU CAN BE THE SAME PERSON AT WORK AND IN PRIVATE?

At work I put on a strong front.  The company I work for has been taken-over and so there are a lot of insecure people and by me being strong and positive I hope to bring some stability.  In private I'm much less sure of myself!  And I hope a bit more laid back. Interestingly I find that I can be entirely myself with Mike's Table.  I guess because it’s such a personal project for me.

WHERE AND IN WHAT ROLES ARE WOMEN IN THE LEADERSHIP STRUCTURE AT YOUR COMPANY?

Honestly, there is a really thick glass ceiling where I work, which is ridiculously boring. We have no female board members and there has never been a female Chair or Managing Director.  I'm about as high up as any other woman and I don't see a way of climbing higher.  This is one reason for setting up Mike's Table; I'm really enjoying being the leader.

DOES DIVERSITY MATTER TO YOU?

Diversity matters hugely.  If we were all the same life would be very dull.  I am always shocked when a gay person or a person of colour is treated differently.  Diversity within my company is extremely poor.  One reason could be that a lot of ethnic minorities in the UK don't have a culture of drinking wine, and are in fact teetotal. There is no excuse for us not employing any gay people.  I would hope that has the company gets 'younger' the staff will naturally diversify.

HOW GOOD IS YOUR WORK LIFE BALANCE?

I enjoy a healthy work/life balance.  I have lots of friends outside of work and many interests which I pursue. Again the 4/1 working week really helps.

WHAT QUALITIES DOES BEING IN YOUR ROLE NECESSITATE?

Common sense. Operations isn't rocket science but it demands a clear, straight forward, no nonsense view.

ANY FINAL COMMENTS?

If it’s possible for you, never stay in a job you don't enjoy.  Move on and up!

Find out more about Mike's table and head to one of our upcoming dinners at  www.mikes-table.org

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