Job creation, creativity and a full stomach.
Tell us something you wish you had been told at the start of your career?
"You think you want to be a politician. You’ll end up as a kebab shop owner – it’s a much better career path."
What do you do in your spare time?
I love the freedom of running…..urban commutes, the Thames path or mini-adventures in new cities. My sense of direction is dire so they often turn into rather long runs.
What’s your favourite restaurant or group of restaurants (besides your current one)?
I’m a South London girl and we’ve got some great independents - my favourites are Daddy Bao and Plot.
What would you be doing if you weren’t in restaurants?
My entire family are doctors – but I’m not good at hierarchy & authority so not sure that would have worked for me……
What motivates you?
Social mobility. I was working & living in Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world, and saw that job creation was the single best way to have positive impact. Back in London I knew that’s what I wanted to do and that restaurants were the way to do it. The hospitality industry I think provides the most transformational opportunities for people, who can come in unskilled, from non-traditional backgrounds, learn a huge amount and come out as managers and leaders. That excites me.
Where was your last holiday?
Mallorca – for a half Ironman race. It was a bit painful.
Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to the restaurant business?
Nando’s. I went there post Haiti with about a teaspoon of knowledge. They took me under their wing and taught me everything. Their approach to people in general is incredible – and the risks they took on me I will always be grateful for. The parties along the way were rather special as well!
What keeps you up at night?
From the Macro – what is Theresa May going to do this week? To the micro – do we need to tweak the sweet potato hummus recipe because of the change in tahini supplier? It’s like waitressing a really busy shift – you need to be able to be able to dodge the swerve balls, whilst having fun, making people feel special and making sure the money makes it to the till.
Worst business decision?
Taking my eye off the ball on sites. I thought when you had one in legals you were home and dry but snipers come out of the blue (other tenants dropping out, build delays, legal issues). I’ve learnt you need a fuller pipeline.
Best business decision?
Ideally in 10 years time I’ll say BabaBoom!
What are you reading at the moment?
We’ve recently opened a new restaurant so I’m swapping reading time for sleeping time. I’ve got the Hard Thing about Hard Decisions on my bookshelf waiting to be read…
What piece of advice would you give to those looking to climb the rungs in the business?
Be robust – resilience trumps talent in lots of cases – behind every success story I think there’s someone who’s in their own way worked their arse off to get there.
If you could change one thing about the restaurant industry today, what would it be?
Brexit. So many of our awesome team are from the EU – and Brexit means that while they rise up the ladder no-one is coming in to fill their shoes……every recruitment round is harder than the last.
CV to date
1985 Born in Croydon
Studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford University
2007 Worked for Congressman Jim Marshall in Washington DC
2008 – 2010 Worked for McKinsey & Co in London
2011 – Worked for The Inter-American Development Bank in Haiti
2012 - 2015 – Worked for Nando’s in a series of roles including strategy associate in London, project manager at nando's global HQ in Johannesburg and as interim commercial director for the Indian Market in Delhi