How did you get into the food industry?
After finishing my studies at Liverpool University, I first started working as a forklift driver, followed by a cold store manager and then I became a production manager for a ready-meal company.
How did you get into cheese?
My next role was as a production manager for Western Cheese and then I moved to ULN Continental Cheese, initially as a factory manager. Later I was promoted to the post of operational director, where I won the Marks and Spencer account to supply pick-and-mix cheese, and first started to deal with Ilchester Cheese Company. Then the former Ilchester MD headhunted me to become its sales director. At the end of 2004 I undertook a joint management buyout with Linda Retter, the finance director, and I am now managing director of Ilchester Cheese Company.
What was the best decision you have made in your career and why?
The management buyout.
Who do you most admire in the grocery industry?
The small company owners who are trying to be the best.
Do you have a mentor and how have they helped you in your career?
I have had different mentors at different stages of my career; currently, my personal mentor is my uncle, who keeps telling me to "turn a shilling into a pound".
What is the most important piece of information you have ever been told?
My MBO partner Linda Retter told me: "Turnover for vanity, earning for sanity and cash for reality."
If you could change one thing in the grocery industry, what would it be?
I would let the little players have a chance because they have a lot to offer.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The pride my staff take in manufacturing such wonderful cheese. I could not do my job without them.
If you could start your career again, what would you do differently and why?
I would become a football agent and discover Wayne Rooney!
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry today?
Work hard, play hard, maintain a good work/ life balance and, above all, have fun.
What do you like doing when you are not working?
I enjoy gardening, painting and drawing.
Where do you hope to be in five years?
I would like to feel satisfied that I have steered Ilchester Cheese Company to greater heights.