Archive for March, 2011

NoCompare Hayley Parsons with other CEO’s

March 21, 2011

So, I post  a blog just last Friday about the interviews that CEO’s give to the Sunday papers and how they’re always the same and, essentially,  not very real or relevant to real people.  And then this Sunday I open the business section of the Sunday Times and the interview is with the Welsh CEO of a Welsh company and guess what – it’s totally, gloriously, different to all the rest.

For a start Hayley is photographed not sitting in an office surrounded by papers and looking all CEO like.  No Hayley is photographed in her trade mark red shoes, in front of her shiny red Maserati and with a cardboard cut out of Gio Compario tucked under her arm.   She’s often home before 7pm, she goes on holiday to Centreparcs (so is a CEO who queues in her bathers for the Grand Canyon Raft Race) and doesn’t get involved in unnecessary things like posh lunches or jollies.  She drops her older son off at school before driving herself to the office and has just had six months off to have a baby.  Family comes first, she says.  She explains to the interviewer about GoCompare’s “coffee randomiser” that selects who has to make the coffee in the office.  She is described as “spikey haired, amply proportioned, heavily Welsh-accented, she is full of warmth and wonder.”  Oh and five years ago she set up GoCompare which last year made more than £24m of profit on revenues of about £100m last year.

Way to go Hayley!  Way to go.  Let’s hope the Sunday Times can find more CEO’s like you to interview.  Maybe someone at GoCompare could come up with a CEO comparison website.

CEO interviews

March 18, 2011

I love reading the interviews with Chief Executive Officers in the business section of the Sunday papers.  I don’t know why since they are pretty much all the same.  The CEO rises at 6am, is collected by their driver and driven to the office where they deal with phone calls and meetings all day until it is time to go to dinner with clients or contacts.  The CEO usually relaxes by running long distances and holidaying somewhere exclusive like Barbados or Verbier.  Every couple of months the CEO featured in these interviews is a woman but even then the interview is along the same lines, except perhaps with a few less late nights so they can eat dinner with their children (“at least twice a week, usually steamed fish with vegetables”).

I like the idea of “rising” at 6am.  Rising has a wholesome, ashram yoga sort of feel to it.  I never rise.  I get hauled from sleep, usually by one child or another appearing at the end of the bed like the Ghost of Christmas Present complaining that the vital piece of sports kit they need THAT MORNING is still damp.   Our tumble dryer died a while ago (although we have somehow never found time to give it a proper burial and it remains crouched in our garage in a state of purgatory) and my only option to convert damp sports kit into dry sports kit is to deploy the hair dryer.  It works rather well although probably not as well as a new tumble dryer would.  In any event, I have just about got damp sports kit covered.  What strikes fear in my heart is when a child appears at the foot of the bed asking for a costume.  St David’s Day/World Book Day/Comic Relief – these things necessitate costumes and are the only time I wish I was one of those CEOs with a driver so I could send him in the car down to Asda to pick something up.

We usually give Barbados a miss for our holidays and go to Centreparcs instead.   We were there at February half term in fact.  It was packed and we had to wait for up to 30 minutes to go on the Grand Canyon Raft Ride.  As we waited I hoped we didn’t bump into anyone we knew because actually queuing in your bathers involves standing around for a long time wearing not much more than your underwear.  I suspect that rules out Centreparcs for most CEO’s.  It might be difficult to maintain the requisite aloofness if members of your workforce have seen you naked but for your Speedos and checked out your tattoo of “Deep Purple, Knebworth, 1985.”  Although I am not entirely certain that the man I spotted in possession of both of these items was in fact a CEO.

I also eat dinner with my children at least twice a week.  My husband and I don’t concern ourselves too much about steamed fish.  We have long since worked out that the key to juggling two children with two full time legal careers is a deep seated fondness for beans on toast.  CEO’s in business interviews don’t eat beans on toast do they?  They don’t shop for beans either or for costumes or wash sports kit or put the Hoover over or the bins out.   About the only part of my day that bears any resemblance to the day of a CEO is the meetings and phone calls all day.   But almost everyone who works in an office has those.  Big deal.

Superwoman by E J Catering – Be a Locavore

March 11, 2011

We all know a carnivore eats meat, a herbivore eats vegetables and an omnivore eats both but the other day my mum walked in saying she was going to try to be a locavore.   It seems it’s an American term for shopping and eating only local foods.  A few days later I bumped into an old friend on Cardiff’s Lower Cathedral Road whose New Year resolution was to shop and eat only from local sources for a year to see how it would change his eating habits.
The results are changing far more than just his eating habits.  He shops more regularly as it is often on foot and involves carrying bags.  As the journey on foot is slower and more purposeful he makes sure he never forgets his bag for life and so very proudly has not taken a new plastic bag this year.  Menu planning has become much more important and he finds himself reading lots of food related articles, recipe books and magazines.  His cooking is more efficient and creative, he is eating a lot more vegetarian meals, treating meat as a treat.  But the best of all is the social aspect, regularly shopping locally on foot he is meeting all sorts of old friends, work colleagues, it is doing wonders for business networking and making new friends.
Financially it is probably similar, what he is buying is a little more expensive but the quality more than makes up for it and he is not wasting any food.  Plus as the allotments begin to yield he is on a good few promises. He is well and truly becoming a character of the high street!

The Riverside Sunday market in Cardiff is a buzz of creative local suppliers. Standards and quality is high, food miles are low.  You follow the seasonal vegetables at their best .  I have recently starting juicing regularly.  The yield, flavour, smell and colour is so superior from local seasonal vegetables I am in danger of becoming a carrot snob!

Here are a couple of my favourite juices
A healthy booster
4 carrots
2 apples
1 celery stick
An inch or so of ginger

Detox and Vitamin C pick me up
2 raw beetroot
1 carrot
1 orange

Power and Irons
2 small handfuls of spinach
4 broccoli florets
1 carrot
2 apples
Small bunch of seedless grapes

Each recipe makes about a glass of juice

A year may be too much of a commitment for most of us to become locavores but we can try to be mindful about what and where we buy.  Maybe try buying vegetables only from a grocers for a month, there are lots of good ones.
Be healthy, be a locavore this Lent!