Me & My Job: Rob Ward, founder, Food Marketing Network

How did you get started?

I was brought up on a farm that sold soft fruit direct to the general public, so from a very early age I was interested in horticulture and selling to the public. I opened my first farm shop in 1991 and gradually grew the business, then separated it into a major supermarket supply and a retail business. In 2005, I was asked to go on a BBC television programme with Simon Woodroffe to mentor a farm shop. I enjoyed helping people fix problems with their businesses, so I started trying to do more. It has grown from there into the Food Marketing Network, a website where people get help and support with production or retailing.

What does your typical day involve?

We have more than 4,000 people on our list and an extensive social media presence that is international, so I do a lot of work on Twitter and Linkedin. I write courses for people and I have a series of workshops that I deliver. I have written a book for food retailers, based on a Nuffield scholarship, which allowed me to travel more than 80,000 miles to research the food retailing sector. I do a lot of one-to-one work with people to help them develop their businesses in the direction they want - coming from both the production and the retailing sides.

 What is the best part of your job?

I like to see people benefit from the things I tell them about. I like people saying: "Wow, I didn't know that," and then doing something about it - that is a big buzz.

And the worst?

When someone unsubscribes from the network or decides that they don't want to work with you any more. But sometimes, in any business you have to sack some customers in order to get the right ones. If you are not talking to people who are prepared to implement what you are talking about, then you need to amicably sever contact with them.

What piece of kit can you not do without?

It's between my MacBook Pro and my iPhone. If I could have only one of them, it would be the MacBook. The power of that with regards to creating interesting presentations or video work is phenomenal.

How do you wind down after a hard day?

I like playing with my children or hill walking. I am part of a group that does two hours' hill walking and then spends two hours in the pub.

What does the future hold?

I want to build a business where I spend as much time as possible at home, but I also want a business that allows me a steady stream of income to support regular research trips to America. I like to be at the forefront of what is happening out there. So the membership business is vital - you can't support it on one-to-one consultancy alone.

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