Steve Clarke joined Bidvest Foodservice as general manager in 2013. He is responsible for operations and profit at the company’s Harlow and Stowmarket depots.
What was your first ever job?
My first job in distribution was 14 years ago, setting up the first satellite site for home delivery shopping for Ocado. I was working out of an aircraft hangar on the Brooklands Race Track in Weybridge, and it grew from six delivery vehicles to 95 in a year and half.
What does your average day involve?
I get into the depot between 7am and 7.30am, and review the daily stats and KPIs for volume and margin. Then I catch up with the sales and operations teams to make sure I’m aware of any immediate challenges. Following that, the day can vary from working on strategic projects to focusing on service levels, all aimed at helping our customers to grow.
What do you take with you to work every day?
I wish I could take my two boys with me, as they provide endless entertainment, but they don’t fit into my laptop bag. While I don’t take in anything particular, on a Friday I always leave taking away thoughts about whether our unit has made progress over the past week, particularly around team achievement and engagement.
What is your favourite thing about working at Bidvest?
I know it’s corny to say ‘the people’, but it absolutely is. In any job, my colleagues make me think about whether I fit with the particular culture. If I feel at ease with the environment and team I work with, it gives me more freedom and opportunity to meet my own aspirations while helping others meet theirs, and I have found a good fit at Bidvest.
What would your colleagues say about you?
I think they’d say I was a well-rounded operator who is fair and consistent and not afraid to make some difficult decisions. I also like to have fun along the way so as not to get too tied down by daily challenges.
What’s the main lesson you’ve learned in your career?
I have been very fortunate to have many opportunities present themselves and I have taken all of them, only looking back to reflect and learn from any mistakes. I also think it’s about creating opportunities for yourself and not underestimating the influence you have on your own career.
Do you know any jokes?
Because I have a six year old, it would be, ‘What cheese is made backwards? Edam.’ But still thinking along the lines of food, ‘My friend thinks he is smart. He told me an onion is the only food that makes you cry, so I threw a coconut at him.’
What do you do in your spare time?
Eating and drinking with friends and family, which tends to end up in physical challenges such as cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats on a folding bike.
If a film was made of your life, which actor would play you on screen?
Bruce Willis, as he always gets battered and broken but relentlessly comes out the other side.
What’s your approach to work?
For me, it’s about ensuring my home-work balance is correct. Also, if you don’t enjoy what you do, you can always consider doing something different.