Gareth Clements, Ireland Sales Director of leading foodservice supplier, Brakes, talks about his career in food in today's Irish News. Gareth talks about his career as a chef and his role leading the sales teams at Ireland's leading foodservice provider, Brakes.
What is your job?
Sales Director of foodservice provider Brakes, where I'm responsible for 25 Area Sales Managers across depots in Lisburn, Dublin, Galway, Cork & Strabane.
How did you get there?
I worked as a chef de partie before joining the Carmichael family at The Stables, Groomsport in 1994. A year later I transferred to the Tidy Doffer as Head Chef where I spent 11 years. In 2006, I joined Brakes as Area Sales Manager and became Sales Director in 2013.
Do you have a typical working day?
No! Monday is spent analysing weekly sales reports. During the week, I'm out in the regions with customers and prospective clients. Our sales figures come through on Fridays, which is when I dissect the numbers and prepare for the week ahead.
What qualifications do you have?
After my GCSEs, I went straight into catering college where I obtained all the City & Guilds qualifications required to become a Chef.
What skills do you think are required to do your job?
People buy from people so it's important to communicate well, be confident and build relationships. It is also important to be focused and resilient when things aren't going your way.
What's the best thing about your job?
Having the ability to share my passion for food and business as a career, coupled with the opportunity to impart knowledge and foresight to my colleagues and watching ideas become reality.
What is the worst thing about your job?
There is a lot of pressure, but my chef's background helps me to cope with it and thrive on it. Standing at the pass in a busy kitchen for many years knowing you have 600 plus covers ahead of you that evening kind of hardens you! The pressure of sales targets is not really that different; bottom line is you need to deliver.
What are the greatest challenges of your role?
The most important thing is keeping my team happy & motivated. I see myself as part of the team, leading from the front. Giving the team leadership, the tools to do the job and making them feel wanted gives them a strong platform from which to deliver for you.
What did you want to be when you were at school?
A Sports Journalist!
What advice would you give to someone starting out in their career?
Travelling the country can be lonely. You'll have good appointments and bad but it's how you react that will set you apart.
What's the most common question people ask when they find out what you do?
People ask if I get bored with the desk job. I'd go mad if I was in the office all the time, but the the job allows me to get out and converse with industry peers. I love nothing more than talking food with chefs and restaurateurs.
How do you like to relax outside work?
I'm involved with Glentoran FC which occupies my Saturdays. I enjoy fine dining and socialising with friends and love nothing more than escaping to the North Coast.