My time in business

May 1, 2019

Kevin Brennan is chief executive of Quorn Foods, the company known globally for its range of meat-free, vegetarian and vegan products. Headquartered in Stokesley, North Yorkshire, the business last year opened the world’s largest meat alternative production facility as part of a £150 million investment to cater for rising demand. Its products are made from mycoprotein, a meat-free healthy protein that is naturally low in saturated fat and high in protein and fibre. Here, he shares his secrets behind operating a successful global business and the advice he has used to shape his career

I learned quickly in my first job that passion and enthusiasm are infectious, and cynicism is hugely energy draining for a business. It is therefore important to get everyone focused on working towards one goal and not playing internal politics or working in silos.

To run a successful business you need a mix of relevant capability, a tenacity to get things done, the ability to ride the ups and downs, and a handy pinch of luck. Things go wrong, even in successful businesses, so don’t feel bad about it but learn from it.

I think the worst mistake you can make would be an excess of hubris.

For those starting a business, I would tell them to make sure it is something they love and
are willing to give up a lot for. It is always a demanding journey, so you’ve got to enjoy it. If you aren’t, you are wasting large parts of your life.

Even if your business has grown, and you are a successful business person, that doesn’t mean you’ve made it. It is essential not to get ahead of yourself, as it can come back to bite you. Even more importantly, being a good person is ultimately your most important characteristic.

It is crucial to take on board advice. I know some other chief executives, but I have also used a personal coach for years. It can be lonely as a chief executive because, when things are going wrong, you can’t worry your team. You need an outlet to talk these things through.

My coach drummed into me the value of controlling the controllable. Things can happen outside of your control, and you can’t let this get to you. Focus on the things you can do something about. It is easy to say, but often tough to do when things are going off track.

Getting the best from your staff is imperative to success. Be clear what you are trying to do and your priorities, and then do your best to help them deliver it by making quick decisions, providing the resources needed, and offering guidance where needed.

Overall, be clear with staff that you are only interested in everyone achieving your goals, not point-scoring and politics.

Motivating your staff is crucial. It is important to show you are passionate about what the business is trying to achieve, and that you value what people contribute. Most people want to feel they are doing something valued and want to do it well.

Quorn Foods

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