My Working Day – Sasha Watkins – Co-Founder of Field Doctor
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 Sasha Watkins, Co-Founder of Field Doctor, about her working day.
What time do you wake up?
My day generally starts at 6am. I try to do a 30-minute spin on my bike before the mad rush of the school run. I find a little exercise and some cheesy pop music gets me energised and into the right frame of mind for the day. But the reality of working in a start-up means there are the mornings where I’m on my laptop at 6am and exercise has to take a back seat after work and family.
What do you have for breakfast?
My go-to breakfast is overnight oats as they can be packed full of plant diversity (eating a diverse range of plant types has been linked with a more diverse gut microbiome). I mix grated carrot, mashed banana, chopped nuts, seeds, oats with kefir and oat milk and leave overnight in the fridge. I serve it with polyphenol-rich mixed berries (from frozen if not in season).
What is your mantra for your working day?
Control the controllable. Starting a new business is a roller coaster ride. It’s extremely demanding, no two days are the same and there are some things that are simply out of your control. It isn’t worth spending time and energy worrying over these. Careful planning, organisation and an action-orientated mindset can help get most other things over the line.
As a business leader, is it hard to separate your business and personal life?
Absolutely, I’m always worried that I don’t get the right balance between work and personal life. It didn’t help that we built this business during the first lockdown and I do work from home several days a week. My family has been very much a part of building Field Doctor and I love that they frequently come with suggestions of ways we can improve. I also hope my entrepreneurial journey will inspire my son to follow his dreams.
What advice would you give to aspiring female entrepreneurs?
Don’t do the entrepreneurial journey alone. There is lots of evidence to show that two to three co-founders are more successful than a solo-founder, as you motivate each other to cover more ground quicker and bring a wider range of skills to the business from day one. It is important to have full trust in your co-founders and a shared vision, as you will end up spending more time together than your family and your future success is dependent on each other.
Who is your business idol? Why?
Gunhild Stordalen, the Norwegian Founder and Executive Chair of EAT Foundation is a big inspiration. She founded this non-profit start-up to transform our global food system, so it can provide a growing global population with a healthy and nutritious diet that is also within safe environmental limits.
Using sound science, this partnership of private enterprise with NGOs has already helped shape the climate agenda in relation to food. The Eat Lancet report had a big impact on my thinking about food and the environment and I have tried to incorporate some of its recommendations into Field Doctor meals.
What motivates you?
Without a doubt, the thing that gets me out of bed in the morning is knowing that I can make a difference to the health journey many people are on – that’s why I trained to become a Registered Dietitian in the first place! The frequent emails and positive feedback from customers have been fantastic.
How do you persevere through challenging times?
Eternal optimism… a positive attitude can help you conquer many of the daily challenges in a start-up and even give you the power to convert some challenges into opportunities. That and I get up early to organise my thoughts when the house is quiet.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a female entrepreneur?
Being a working mother (to a 10-year-old son) comes with some challenges. Although there are financial rewards, a feeling of personal relevance, and the sense of contribution from working, I have never multi-tasked as much nor had to work as efficiently as there is a hard cut-off at the end of the day. Working mothers also face “the maternal bias”—the conscious or unconscious belief that a working mum can’t be effective both in work and motherhood and this is also often accompanied by maternal guilt.
What is the best piece of advice you have received?
Really understand the problem you are trying to solve. We did some research together with The IBS Network in 2021 and discovered just over half (54%) live in constant fear of eating something that will trigger their IBS symptoms and 42% felt they would never be able to eat normally again. IBS sufferers will be the first to tell you that it is a minefield to work out what triggers IBS but the low FODMAP diet has been a fantastic dietary intervention to help people to manage their symptoms better and to identify their personal triggers.
Are you hopeful about the future of female entrepreneurship in the UK? Why?
Yes, the levelling-up narrative has started, and it is not going away. There are more and more stories of successful female entrepreneurship every day and it is fantastic to see VCs starting to address the funding inequalities of female-founded companies. Having lived in Stockholm, deemed to be one of the best places for startups, it has been refreshing to see that the UK start-up community is not far behind.