How did you get to where you are today? Promoting an ethos that I value and respect people, and employing people who are more capable than me at doing the job I want done, has been key to developing the business. It has enabled me to grow from being an importer employing three staff (including me) to a 400-person branded business with a strong manufacturing base.
Who do you most admire in the grocery industry? Terry Leahy has an exceptional eye for consumer needs and clearly has the executional resources to meet them. I did not envy Justin King and the challenge he took on, but he has demonstrated a real knack for getting the basics right and identifying which problems to tackle first.
Do you have a mentor and how have they helped you? My father-in-law put his faith, and his money, in me in helping to get Discovery started and his insightful perspective has helped me when my nose has got too close to the action. More recently, a Christian leader called Bill Hybels has helped open my eyes to the value of encouraging and chastising people out of genuine concern for them.
What is the most important piece of information you have ever been told? I don't remember being told it, but the realisation that despite owning Discovery, it is not strictly mine, and that my responsibility to it and the people is to be a trustworthy steward.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? I love travelling to find new ideas and flavours, finding out about background to dishes, meeting people and having a commercial purpose to create successful products from what I find.
What is the one thing that you could not do your job without? My Blackberry is excellent for keeping in touch. But paper and pen are critical because I like to write down and draw my thoughts. I recently discovered mind maps, and now I wonder how I managed before.
If you could start your career again, what would you do differently and why? I think that most of the things I have done well, I have done intuitively - or learned from experience. But I think it is better to reinforce that with reading and training, and I wish that I had started those disciplines sooner.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry today? A positive attitude, commitment and enthusiasm are the most valuable currency. An ability to work with people and motivate them is a real gift.
What do you like doing when you are not working? My family dominates my time off. Reading, travelling, watching rugby and socialising.