Interview with Amanda Menahem, Owner – Pascere Restaurant
This week I’m delighted to be able to share my interview with HR Director turned Restaurant Owner Amanda Menahem. Amanda is a real case study in how to turn a dream into a reality through tapping into passion, commercial business knowledge and entrepreneurial thinking.
Hi Amanda, great to speak to you again, can you give me an overview of your career to date? What’s your story?
I started my career in retail management having completed the graduate scheme at Harrods. After some time leading on the shopfloor I moved into a training and development role and then specialised in Management Development and Training Schemes. I then moved in to generalist HR in the pharmaceutical industry, developing my career until taking on the HR Director role at Hastings Direct. I joined at a time when the business was in crisis. I worked as part of the leadership team to achieve turnaround, growing the business and taking it to flotation 6 years later. I left shortly after to pursue my own thing. After years on the corporate treadmill I decided to fulfil my own entrepreneurial dreams and have set up my own company which includes a restaurant.
Wow! That sounds amazing! What are you currently working on?
I have just launched a restaurant, which has been a long held dream
What’s been the biggest OSM (Oh Sh**t Moment) in your career so far and what happened as a result of it?
Having launched a restaurant. Most people would expect me to say that! Seeing as its such a risky industry. But I have only felt excited and driven without any doubts. I think that’s because I’ve been so clear about what I want and have already thought through the worst case scenarios. So, for me the OSM is a memory from my corporate career. I recall working on an extremely complex and high profile business wide project. I was out of my depth and it created a great deal of stress for me. Rather than demand resources and be assertive in asking for support, I struggled on. This was the wrong thing to do but it did teach me a lot. I have never made that mistake again! I now embrace and accept my weaknesses (and hire people to plug my gaps) rather than trying to be perfect.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering leaving the HR profession to set up their own business in a new industry?
Make sure its coming from the right place – Identify what your inner values and needs are and what you love doing and are passionate about and choose the thing that ticks all or most of those boxes. If it doesn’t, then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons and you are less likely to be successful or fulfilled. Don’t underestimate the importance of fulfilling wider personal needs, be it time to travel, or pursue some other hobby. I think when you’re considering a career change, that’s the time to think holistically and do some real soul searching. Sometimes its useful to hire a coach to help you untangle these elements….
There’s a lot of talk about Brexit at the moment, what’s your take on it?
There’s so much uncertainty and speculation. We cannot control or predict what will happen so my view is to carry on doing what I feel is right regardless. The best I can do is try and predict what the challenges might be and plan accordingly. For my business, resourcing may be impacted and so the need to develop and retain my team is even more important.
As an entrepreneur you need a high level of energy and passion. What is it that keeps you motivated and drives you?
Making a difference, making a contribution and fulfilling my needs. For me that’s been about nurturing a successful team and watching them flourish, being part of a community and industry I’m passionate about and making my own contribution to that. Seeing the results in my customers feedback is exhilarating. When you do what you love, it is inherently energizing even when it’s physically draining. That said, I do have to be strict in making sure I get the rest and relaxation I need to be effective. Its noticeable when I don’t get this balance right. Things become more difficult to deal with and I am more easily overwhelmed. I have learnt to recognise the signs and take action!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given in your career?
That’s almost impossible to answer as I can think of many, many nougats of gold passed down from great bosses and mentors. I think the advice that I have found most real and that I have experienced most frequently first hand is a tad obvious but so be it! And that is the importance of surrounding yourself with the best people. Never compromise your standards.
If you were given £5,000 to invest in a Start Up business what would it be and why?
Health Technology and / or health food type businesses – this is a growing market and a personal interest of mine.
Thanks Amanda, what an amazing story and a real inspiration. I know exactly where I’ll be heading for lunch next time I’m in Brighton!