How to Cook Up a Storm in Business

I increasingly find that the creative, but disciplined and methodical mind set I employ in the kitchen when I go home also has its parallels to managing an international company during the day.

I've always said that if I wasn't in technology, I would probably be most comfortable pursuing a career as a chef. Anyone who knows me knows that when I'm not in the office, I'm probably either stirring the contents of a saucepan or trawling down a supermarket aisle looking for inspiration. I've been Managing Director at QlikTech UK for nearly five years now, and I increasingly find that the creative, but disciplined and methodical mind set I employ in the kitchen when I go home also has its parallels to managing an international company during the day.

Getting the right amount of seasoning

Just as it can be fun to try and experiment with different flavours when you're adding seasoning to a new dish, it can also be rewarding to throw together unlikely personalities when pulling together a team. Although it's tempting to pair up like-minded individuals, it's often more productive if you sit down with a fresh pair of eyes and identify what exactly your team needs and then see who can fill in the gaps. I've found that judging the right mix comes with experience. Don't be afraid to try something different.

Too many cooks spoil the broth

Similarly to how a dish can be ruined if too many chefs try to add their own flavours, a problem that tends to arise at all levels of management is a failure to delegate effectively. It pains me when I see how much someone will put on their plate rather than trust their employees with taking on some extra responsibility. It can be as simple as allowing your employees to set up and manage their own social initiatives or reshaping your entire infrastructure to share responsibility and accountability.

Don't forget your 'secret ingredient'

For an entrepreneur, establishing your unique selling point is your first port of call for setting yourself apart from your competitors, but I find this mentality does start to lose its shine in larger companies. It's quite surprising how many people in a business can't tell you what their unique selling point is, but this should be as crucial to making a business a success as knowing what your secret ingredient is that makes your dish so tasty!

Presentation, presentation, presentation

In a restaurant, a chef would never serve a dish unless the food is laid out appetisingly on the plate and this attention to detail in presentation is probably the most important part of whatever I do. In the technology sector we're noticing that products which are more style than substance are starting to be exposed, but it's undeniable that the aesthetics of everything should be considered. Whether an executive is pitching for new business or working with the product design team, success comes with making sure the finished product's nuances are well thought through.

Keeping your equipment clean

The first thing I was ever taught about cooking was the importance of keeping your kitchen tidy, and I find it more pertinent now more than ever to make sure your business operates cleanly as well. It shouldn't just be the office manager's job to make sure you operate in a clean working environment, or the Legal team's responsibility to make sure you adhere to rules and regulations, and I think it's often overlooked how much a well-run office affects your working day. This can be from making sure the office isn't a mess to ensuring there's always enough stationery available in the cupboard. In addition, keeping the business clean should go without saying. It's the chef/MDs responsibility to ensure regulatory compliance throughout the company at all times.

Admittedly there isn't one sole recipe for success, but I've found applying these principles from my life as a budding chef to my behaviour in the boardroom has helped run our business more effectively. Try following just a couple of these tips and I'm sure you'll be the 'plat du jour' of your company in no time.


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