Alam Ameer is associate director of Wanis International, one of the UK’s largest international food wholesalers.
Betterwholesaling: What was your first job?
Alam Ameer: I did a paper round when I was 13. I have a vivid memory of when my mum once set my alarm for my usual wake-up time, but we forgot that the clocks were going back! It was the late 1980s, so there were no smartphones or auto-updating. I stood out in the cold from 4-5am, waiting. My first job was in 1991 when I was 16, working in Woolworths.
BW: What does your average day involve?
AA: My day starts at 3:45am. I drive across London to get to Wanis and we open at 5am. We have customers who drive to us during the night from across the UK. First they go to New Spitalfields Market, which is just down the road, and then they come to us.
Once we get through the rush, it is then all about the day-to-day management side of things. I tend to finish about 2-3pm.
BW: What is the best thing about working at Wanis?
AA: There is a real family feel to working at Wanis. So many people have been here so many years, working their way up. There is an emphasis on trying to help people with their problems – a recognition that Wanis is like your second family, but your nearest and dearest come first, which is the way that it should be.
BW: How would your colleagues describe you?
AA: I would like to think they see me as firm but fair and aligned with the family values that Wanis has.
BW: What is the best piece of advice you have had?
AA: The first loss is your best loss. If you let something fester, it gets worse.
BW: Whom do you most admire?
AA: My late brother-in-law. He helped me through a tough time and put me on the right path. If I look back on who helped to tame the beast, so to speak, it was him.
BW: Who would play you in the film of your life?
AA: Samuel L Jackson. He is a great actor, a great character, and he likes Liverpool FC, which does him no harm! Different films, different genres, diverse characters – he is just great at what he does.
BW: What do you like to get up to in your spare time?
AA: Spending time with my wife, my two teenagers, two cats, and our dog. My wife and I try to balance work with a full-on family life.
BW: Who would be your ideal dinner party guests?
AA: I love to cook and multiple cuisines, too. I am a complete food buff and I love flavour, so whoever comes would have to be someone who enjoys that. I love to see people smile when they eat my dishes and I love the social element around sharing food.
I am of Muslim origin, so no pork, and I don’t mind cooking vegetarian.
So, people who like to eat and who are adventurous with it are welcome as my dinner party guests!
BW: What is your favourite place?
AA: Colombo, Sri Lanka (right). My grandparents are from there. By the beach or out on the coast on a boat seeing the coral reef – it is of indescribable beauty.