Name: Jeff Greenall
Job title: Director and owner
Company: Cavan Bakery
What was your first job? A paper round and hay-baling in the summer holidays at a local farm.
My first proper job was at the Leigh Delamere services on the M4 when I was 15 years old. This kept me busy throughout the holidays and weekends, though probably contributed to my disastrous O-Levels a year later.
What’s been your worst job interview? The interviewer kept using jargon and acronyms throughout, and I had no idea what she was asking me and was too embarrassed to ask! Within a few minutes I realised I just wasn’t right and I told her I wasn’t suitable. Excruciating!
What was the first music single you bought? Not sure I ever bought singles, but my first album was Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run. First song is Thunder Road which everyone should hear. Still love it now.
How do you describe your job to your friends? People always assume that because I run a bakery business I can bake, when I really can’t!
My days are spent talking to our employees, travelling around our shops, and looking for opportunities to grow and develop for the future. There are so many facets to my job and the bakery as a whole, so it’s hard to sum it up in a sentence. I even used to say I drove the van, since that was what I would do in the early years.
“People always assume that because I run a bakery business I can bake, when I really can’t!”
What is the most rewarding part of your job? Cavan Bakery has grown so much over the years and in many ways being a part of that growth is reward enough.
That said, there’s nothing like seeing the production cycle come together throughout the business, and seeing our fresh bread and baked goods in the bakery on a Friday night. There is always a buzz in the bakery and I gain an enormous sense of pride seeing the work our staff put in.
What is the least rewarding part? The challenge of running a business means I could easily spend 24 hours, seven days a week working and still not get everything done.
Keeping a balance between work and family life has always been difficult. In the early years, work was all-consuming and my life was very unbalanced. Work is massively rewarding, and being part of the growth of Cavan Bakery has been personally hugely satisfying. Missing out on family time was the consequence and the least rewarding.
What is your motto in life? Keep going forward and don’t look back!
If you were allowed one dream perk, what would it be? I sort of already have several dream perks. I start most days at our café on the River Thames in east Molesey, with amazing and endless amounts of coffee, and when I get to our bakery I have a whole team of expert bakers who love making samples of new cakes, breads and pastries, which I get to try.
Do you have any phobias? None that I can admit to!
If you could change one thing in grocery, what would it be? I would like to see stricter regulations around the term ‘freshly baked’ which currently can be used to describe anything that is ‘baked off’, regardless of how long after it was produced.
This misleading term is overused by retailers and other food establishments. In my view they should be required to declare that their goods are baked off from the freezer.
What luxury would you have on a desert island? I really enjoy reading. A few years ago, my amazing MD, Nicky Taylor, introduced me to a Japanese author called Haruki Murakami, who is both brilliantly thought-provoking and also a bit bonkers. So, my luxury would be his complete works (of which there are many) in the hope I can one day work out what they are all about.
What animal most reflects your personality? A polar bear. Running a business can sometimes be quite isolating and lonely, and I also love the cold. Having said that, I’m quite social and I need people around me to bounce ideas and my crazy thoughts at. I am also told that I can’t concentrate for very long and am bit unstructured, so maybe something more social, but a bit disorganised like a monkey.
What’s your favourite film and why? An Italian film called Life is Beautiful directed by and starring Roberto Benigni.
It demonstrates how, as humans, even in the most brutal and horrific times, love, ingenuity, and strength of personality can come through. A brilliant film.
What has been the most embarrassing moment in your life? I remember being in a school awards ceremony at the local church, and for some reason had convinced myself I was going to get a sports award. As it was being announced, I had already got up and started making my way to the front. I managed to get right in front of the person handing out the award and alongside the person winning it, before finally realising it was not me, and took an incredibly humiliating walk of shame back to my seat. Still not sure I have lived it down.
Which celebrity would you most like to work with and why? Our family have recently become big fans of Married at First Sight Australia, so maybe Mel Schilling, the main presenter, because I think she lives fairly local to some of our shops. Watch this space, you never know…
What would your death row meal be? It would have to be a selection of our amazing sourdough breads: multiseed, olive, or our incredible rosemary and sea salt. Filled with a range of cheeses, hams and chutney.
All washed down with a really good cabernet sauvignon and several flat whites from our café. Oh, and a Cavan Bakery mince pie, because our handmade mince pies are to die for!