I left school quite young and started work as a cash collector for Panificio Italiano in Wembley, which involved looking after accounts in the City and in and around the West End. It was quite challenging, visiting Italian restaurants, but it prepared me for the highly competitive business that the baking industry is. I soon started bringing in business from the hotels and sandwich shops I was visiting and, while at Panificio, I also worked with the owner to create a range of par-baked products for hotels in London we would give them a small convection oven so they could bake off the bread.
How has your career developed?
After moving from Panificio, Roland Kuznik, a chef I'd met in London, randomly asked me to go work for him, as he was opening up a bakery, and wanted me to be sales manager and help launch Kuznik's, the bakery, by developing the wholesale business. During my time there, we developed a range of German breads and gained a contract with Waitrose, as well as receiving interest from Marks & Spencer. I eventually moved from there to pursue a career abroad and after meeting my husband, who's a baker, I worked for his family-run bakery. When we returned to the UK, I started working for Heathrow Bakery, which specialises in supplying airlines and sandwich manufacturers, as business development manager. I had a couple of other sales jobs after that, trying to break into something new, but my passion for this industry drove me back to my bakery roots.
How did you get your current role?
I like artisan-style products and speciality breads and was keen to work with similar products in the future. I'm a great believer in 'it's not what you know, it's who you know', and a chance meeting with the owner of Jungs of Beaconsfield convinced me to join them to increase the wholesale business. I was keen to join a smaller company and I was extremely impressed by their products.
What is your average day like?
I spend the first part of the day dealing with any complaints and checking everything is OK and then I make courtesy calls to see customers and keep in regular contact with them. For me the personal touch is vital. I have a reputation for having a unique style, but being in the industry for over 30 years has kept me grounded. You need passion to do well, but in this industry, no two days are the same and that is why I love it so much.