about me
Download a Business Profile with CV (PDF)
How to grow food and raise livestock
After leaving London University and before starting at Hadlow Agricultural and Horticultural College, I worked on farms around the world. In Israel, I learnt how to pick bananas, milk cows and catch chickens. I dried and packed hops in Kent and Tasmania. In Kenya I worked with sheep and cattle. In the UK I worked on large livestock and arable farms.

How to manage people
After farming college I started work for the UK’s largest fruit growers. Over eight years I learnt about managing people, from traditional farm workers to itinerant fruit pickers. I dealt with motivation, change management, communication and performance issues. Later, at Tesco, I managed teams in the UK, in France and in Eastern Europe ranging from 2 to 100 people. I learnt how to ‘rationalise’, recruit and induct.

How to sell fruit
In my last year of fruit growing, my packhouse sent 2000t of strawberries to the UK supermarkets. My orchards sent 1500t of apples to the co-operative. Selling is best done by experts – but the closer the relationship with the buyer, the less need for marketing and the simpler the day to day process. I learnt that a sustainable partnership is stable, long-term, trusting and risk sharing.

How to deal with customers
I experienced the change from selling to traditional wholesale markets to dealing with emerging supermarkets. This was a move from uncertain price outcomes to clear and guaranteed payment. It was also the start of changing to working seven days and responding to customer requirements at short notice.

How to buy and sell food
Office life was kept at a minimum at Tesco fifteen years ago. A technologist was expected to be present at production, wherever it might be. I learnt what customers want from vegetables. From asparagus to aubergine and mangetout to yams, I specified exotic vegetables. I travelled to Africa and Europe, I set standards with suppliers and I helped buyers manage their supply chains. I worked with stores and with marketing.

How to work in Europe
In 1994, Tesco started bought Catteau, a retailer in the north of France with a turnover of £500m and 120 stores. Competition was fierce. As a French speaker, I arrived in 1995 to work on harmonisation of produce and meat supply chains. I also worked on private label development of food and non food. I learnt that the European food business is different but customers still responded to quality and price.

How to work for a supplier
I spent a year working for Gerber Fresh Produce as Development Manager from 98-99. I found new sources, suppliers and products. I dealt with all the retailers again and could see how different they can be. I found that supplier relationships and partnerships can be tough.

How to control quality
Back at Tesco, I took responsibility for fresh food quality assurance. I learnt about processes, measurement, sensory evaluation, calibration and harmonisation. I dealt with challenges and complaints, the costs of rejections and the challenge of finding credible management information. I experienced leading a large and complex IT project.

How to deliver product integrity
I moved to work in the Group Trading Law and Technical team looking after the audit team and developing policy. I learnt that unannounced audits work well and that standard setting is a one way process. I worked with other retailers around the world. I started to speak at big conferences and to work in committees.

How to be an independent consultant
In February 2007 I started my consultancy business. My first clients wanted my experience to help them change. They wanted to understand their customers better and improve their business planning. I believe that good business relationships are of great value and that sustainability requires viability and efficiency.