After studying Hospitality Management in Cardiff, my first role was in HR where I worked in a role that firmly cemented I liked working with people. However, the role lacked something, and I didn’t feel fulfilled. Sitting behind a desk was not for me.
My journey into Contract Catering
I had previously worked in a hotel in Beijing and also knew that hotels were not where my passion lay, so I was quickly building a picture of the roles that I didn’t want to do but had no idea about the career that was right for me.
I then stumbled on contract catering, and after meeting with Aramark, I managed to get onto their graduate programme at Arthur Andersen.
Soon after joining Arthur Andersen, the Enron scandal hit and the firm was absorbed by Deloitte. The catering offer changed dramatically and Aramark lost the contract. From heavily subsidised to virtually commercial, the catering team was halved, and the graduate scheme was scrapped.
However, with a turn of fortune, I was offered the Catering Manager role to run the retail outlets under Restaurant Associates.
After successfully passing the management training academy programme and through the support of my friend and mentor Francois Gautreaux, I was offered my first standalone role at EBRD, managing their entire catering operation.
At the same time, I was also offered the Catering Manager role at White & Case but EBRD’s bigger salary swayed me. I learnt a big lesson in life there, as I was not ready for the demanding role at EBRD and left after seven months. After taking stock, rebuilding my confidence and gaining the valuable experience I needed at BarCap in Canary Wharf, as the Food Services Manager, I was ready for my next role. When the opportunity came up to work under Francois again, as an Area Manager at Bartlett Mitchell, I jumped at the chance.
For the next five golden years, I worked in a team that really did look out for each other and shared a common goal. We successfully grew the business and I was promoted through the ranks to Ops Manager and then Senior Ops Manager, before leaving to join Elior, as Ops Director for the City.
My five years at Bartlett Mitchell gave me the foundation from which to grow. The diverse portfolio of clients, bespoke operational approach, and the intrinsic family culture resonated with me and continues to guide me today.
At Elior, it was a very different business. Different types of contracts, like the Bank of England, Southwark Cathedral and Rolls Royce, made new demands on my skill set. Having successfully navigated my first six months, I grew into the role and built a very successful operation team that I was proud of and sad to leave behind.
I re-joined BM in 2017, as Operations Director, with knowledge of the intricacies and expectations of multifaceted, prestigious client accounts. The operations and sales team worked in unison, winning some amazing new contracts which we are very proud of. Those new wins allowed us to build a larger and stronger operations team that drives our business success. I am to this day, very proud of our team and the individuals we have attracted to our family, who have collectively shaped our enviable culture.
Before the pandemic, Antony Prentice and I were promoted to Divisional Managing Directors and most recently to the role of Joint Managing Directors. An immensely proud moment for us both.
The Future for BM is very Bright and Exciting
The future for BM is very bright and exciting. WSH has been very supportive since the acquisition, and we will, as all WSH brands do, remain autonomous to run our business.
Antony and I, along with all the senior team and, in fact, the entire BM family, will work together to retain and grow our client portfolio whilst ensuring we keep alive the great core values that BM was built upon.
Knowing that our board of Directors, Wendy, Lin, Pete, Neil and Petra will be there to support us, makes our job that little bit easier. Food and people will remain at the heart of our business, and we have some of the greatest people in the industry there to support us all in achieving our goals.
BM is a great business; we are incredibly pleased with our regrowth after the pandemic, and we are truly grateful for all our clients who supported us during that time and welcome all of our new clients who have put their faith in us and recognised our point of difference.