Our clients are inspiring people – we swear we learn more from them than they do from us at times! We work with clients at all levels in all industries, clients who are rocking their field, clients who are making their mark on NZ and some making their mark on the world. To inspire you we have decided to share some of their stories in a regular Q&A.
For our first one, we’ve talked to the best baker in NZ: Andrew Fearnside from Wild Wheat, which is constantly awarded Best Bakery status in Auckland and in NZ. Read what inspires him below…
Q: Tell us about your business in ten words…
A: Auckland’s leading Artisan bread bakery.
Q: Why did you start it and what was your aim with it?
A. I had always wanted to do my own thing. Starting life as a chef, it was going to be a restaurant. Once I moved into baking my own bakery became the ultimate goal. I had my own vision of the style of bread I wanted to bake, and I felt doing my own thing was the best way to realise that vision. Throughout my entire life I have always wanted to be the boss, so I had to do my own thing or I would have gone mad!
Q: Who is a leader that you learnt something incredibly valuable from and what were the lessons you learnt from them?
A: My first bakery boss in London really helped shape my professional baking approach. His attention to detail and his organisational skills made a big impression on me. It was my first time baking, so his training of the basics was crucial in setting me on the right track. He was a crazy diamond who set me up perfectly for a life in baking – he also made me laugh uncontrollably.
Q: Think about the worst boss you’ve ever had – what did you learn from their style of leadership?
A: I can’t think of any particular worst boss. Looking back most have been ok, though I have taken lessons across the board from some of the things I didn’t agree with as their employee. Not taking employees for granted was a big one I took from my last ever employer – that sticks in my mind.
Q: What lesson in business do you try to pass on to others and why is that?
A: Think long term, and of the bigger picture. Having a long-term vision, and goals are important to know where you are going. It makes decisions easier if you know what the end result is. Zac has taught me to look at the numbers and I pass that on to others as well. Early on I used to make decisions based on the here and now. Over time experience and mistakes have made me look far more into the future when planning new moves.
Q: What is a mantra you live by and why?
A: Integrity and honesty are big for me. It annoys me to see people making claims that aren’t true. Stand by what you do and be honest with yourself and your customers. Also, making every post a winner and be the best you can be – I am forever mentally challenging myself to beat myself.
Q: What has been your biggest learning in business to date and why? How has it affected you going forward?
A: Two big things for me stand out. Firstly, a squabble with a staff member around 5-6 years ago which ended in mediation had a big effect on me. It made me radically change how I interact with staff, and tighten up my contracts and documentation. It was a good thing to come from a bad situation. I was trying to be people’s friends, whereas now I am just the boss. The other was learning to look at numbers, which came from Zac. Pre Zac I used to just do things on gut feel. These days I always quickly crunch numbers in all situations I find myself in – that all stems back to time spent with Zac, watching him to the same thing. It’s invaluable in helping size up a situation.
Q: If you were 21 years old again and could do any career you wanted, what would you be and why?
A: Since a very early age I always wanted to be a chef, so I can’t think of rolling the clock back and changing career. However when I was 21 I wanted to be a chef. If I was 21 again I would concentrate on being a baker. In 2008 I went to San Francisco to do a bakery course. I wish I had spent a few years working in that bread environment – San Fran is a baker’s dream!
A huge thank you to Andrew Fearnside from Wild Wheat for sharing his awesome experiences, influences and insights. And try his sour dough – it’s the best!