My Working Day – Julian Mines – CEO of FareShare South West

My Working Day

As the leader of a company, you are there to set an example, to lead and inspire a team of individuals to achieve a series of business goals. But, how do these business leaders go about their daily routine?

Business Leader spoke to Julian Mines – CEO of FareShare South West, about his working day.

What time do you usually wake up?

My alarm clock is set for 6.15 am, enough time to have breakfast and travel into work.

What do you typically have for breakfast?

Breakfast is a homemade muesli, which I make every morning as a sort of waking-up ritual that includes all sorts of weird seeds and nuts made edible (just!) by a banana and lashings of oat milk.

What is the rest of your morning routine before you start work?

Once breakfast is done, I tend to head straight into the FareShare South West Warehouse in St Jude’s. I like to catch the train into work as often as possible and get off at Montpellier which forces me to walk 20 minutes to the office and then 20 minutes back to the station at the end of the day. There are days where I have meetings with the charities we supply or even with other South West businesses who want to partner with us. On these days I drive in.

What is the first thing you do at the start of your working day?

Before even opening my emails, I always head into the warehouse to say hello to the warehouse staff. There’s a few who seem to enjoy giving me a bit of light-hearted ribbing, which keeps me grounded! My first hour tends to be emails and then into the rest of the day.

How do you prioritise your day’s work?

My days are usually planned well in advance but there are always surprises waiting that may require some changes to the day’s priorities. The charity is growing rapidly and so there are lots of new projects to progress, but we have a very clear focus on the core activity that drives our work and ultimately delivers our mission to fight food poverty whilst tackling food waste.

I’m grateful that I have a great team of people (paid and voluntary), which enables me to move new projects forward with the confidence that the day-to-day stuff is getting done. I always have to leave some wriggle room in the diary for unforeseen events (often good) that require my immediate attention. Activity around using surplus food as a solution to food insecurity is a very fast moving and dynamic arena to work in, and I, like my team are constantly having to balance short term responses with long term priorities. The growth we’re experiencing, and the tens of thousands of meals we’re providing to some of the most vulnerable in the region, is testament to us managing those priorities effectively as a team.

Do you plan meetings or are they a waste of time?

As a small team working in a small space communications are relatively easy so the need for formal meetings is often less than when I have worked in larger organisations.

However, the growth and increasing complexity of our work means that we are having to build in more formal meetings. Whilst the structure and discipline of more formal meetings will improve planning and decision making, I can rely on my team’s sense of humour to ensure that they are never dull or too onerous.

Do you have a working lunch or is it good to take a break?

I try where I can to take a break from the desk, and when I do it’s a chance to have lunch with volunteers. However, there are days where it ends up as a snack in front of the computer.

When does your working day finish?

It varies. An early finish would be 5pm/5.30pm but more often it’s 6pm/6.30pm. Most weeks I’ll have at least one or two evening meetings to attend so will finish closer to 8pm. However, people who know me well would say that my passion for the work of the charity means that there is always a part of me at work, even during the down time. Although spending time with my children and grandchildren does force me to finally switch off and I’m grateful for this.

How do you prepare for the next day’s work?

Towards the end of the day I will adjust my diary and reschedule tasks that did not get done and prepare for the next day’s activities. I also like to check in with other team members to make sure I’m up to speed with what’s happened in that day for them.

As I said, we are in a stage of real growth and expansion so everyday there are new things happening and more good news. It’s nice to finish the day on a high, hearing about all the great projects and partnerships in the pipeline.

Favourite piece of technology?

I am not really a technology person and as a charity with minimal budget to be spent on fancy technology, we don’t have all the gadgets and gizmos available. Does a toaster count? If pushed I’d have to say that!

How do you switch off?

During down time I have spent the last 2 years building a model railway layout for my grandson. I am also a longstanding Bristol City fan, and love watching all types of sport. Time with family, walking and getting away to Cornwall on a regular basis helps me to switch off.

Best piece of advice you’ve received?

“All we have to decide is what we do with the time that is given to us”. Gandalf’s advice to Frodo.

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