In normal circumstances, my job involves… developing an innovative and diverse organic product range that can help parents fuel a lifetime of healthy eating for their little ones. At Piccolo Foods, we offer ready-made, on-the-go products alongside a range designed for cooking at home, and have also recently started offering organic infant formula.
In the past month, the biggest change to my day-to-day work has been… home-schooling my six-year-old, and nursing and caring for my baby Scarlett Rose – who was delivered a few weeks early, just as we went into lockdown – while trying to take care of Piccolo. Re-accustoming myself to being a mum of a little one has meant a big change to my schedule, especially with my business experiencing lots of new pressures as a result of the Covid crisis.
I’m adapting to working remotely by… making the most of Zoom and Microsoft Teams – and enjoying them much more than I ever thought possible. Normally, I am a real ‘around the kitchen table’ type, feeling that breaking bread together is the best option when possible. I miss the lunchtimes with our tight-knit team, as we had lunch catered for the company every day pre-Covid. However, the technology has been a saviour in other ways, as it helps me to maintain a dialogue with the team and to be more time-efficient. The experience of meeting someone in person can never be replaced, but it has been valuable to meet our retail customers, such as Sainsbury’s, virtually. It’s funny when their kids pop onto the screen, just as mine do – it means there’s still the human element.
The recent innovation I’m most proud of is… our organic, palm-oil-free formula. As I’m at home for the time being, I’m able to nurse my baby, so I’m just using it on a few occasions when I need a helping hand from my partner for a night feed, but once in-person meetings resume, I’ll be especially glad it’s available.
The most significant challenge has been… switching off from work when our customers are giving us so much feedback on how Piccolo can help them in their new, changed lives. The increase in home cooking and new-found passion for family mealtimes has meant our cooking range has been really popular, so it’s not a time when I want to slow down professionally.
I’m keeping my team motivated by… giving back and charitable works. We support Little Village, which provides baby essentials for new parents in need, and the food bank City Harvest, through which we are supporting 60 children’s centres with nutritional meals and snacks. We set up our online store in response to the pandemic and, with every order placed, we’re donating five baby meals to those children’s centres.
For me, leadership during a crisis means… rolling up my sleeves and doing what I do best, which is to get what needs doing done, no matter what the hurdles.
My role model for crisis management is… Prue Leith, my mentor and also our investor. Prue has done so much and been through setbacks herself as an entrepreneur, as well as juggling a family while building her business. She always tells me to keep calm and carry on. I wouldn’t have started Piccolo if it weren’t for Prue being a guiding light!
The three most important values that will see my business through adversity are… persistence, resilience and a strong sense of intuition, which I always follow.
The biggest change I hope we’ll see in my industry post-crisis is… a continued interest in what we eat and its importance in our lives. Food is glue, and making time to cook for our families and those we love will, I hope, continue post-coronavirus.
The one thing I can’t wait to do when all this is over is… travel to see my friends and family. I am looking forward to introducing baby Scarlett Rose to her wider family, as currently she is like a little well-kept secret.
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