There are a handful of business leaders and industry figures who are changing the world.
We’ve previously asked CEOs, founders and thought leaders like Alex Klein (the cofounder of Kano), Clare Gilmartin (CEO at Trainline), and Justin Rosenstein (cofounder of Asana), how they get so much done in an impossibly short amount of time.
Today we find out “How To Boss It Like” Claire Davenport, CEO at HelloFresh UK, the meal-kit company based in Berlin.
Davenport cut her teeth working in banking at Goldman Sachs and JPMorganChase, before going on to work for digital leaders like Skype, FutureLearn and VoucherCodes.
Today, when she’s not heading up HelloFresh’s British division, she’s sharing her knowledge at pivotal events like this week’s Etail Europe.
What time do you get up, and what part of your morning routine sets you up for the day?
Most mornings I get up at 7 a.m. and have breakfast with my two daughters before cycling down the canal from my house to Oxford train station. I pick a quiet carriage so I can catch up on emails and news and prepare for the day on my commute into London.
Two mornings a week I have breakfast blocked for mentoring or networking. Doing everything I can to level the playing field for people from different backgrounds—to realize their full potential in their career or with their startup—is very important to me. I try to help with introductions or advice or just giving a confidence boost where needed.
Saturdays and Sundays I run on Port Meadow in Oxford with my running buddy, Alison. We run 4-5 miles to stay fit and catch up on the week.
What smartphone do you have?
iPhone 7 with 128 GB capacity (lots of photos and videos). Normal black with a HelloFresh cover.
What apps or methods do you use to be more productive?
I have tried various productivity apps over time but find having a system I stick to with my emails and trusted Moleskine notebook works best for me.
Sometimes I like to be offline or away from my phone. Okay, that’s not true.
But sometimes I happen to be offline (train or tube or once I have gone to bed or when I am trying to set a good example for my daughters) and I still have ideas and thoughts I need to get down, so a paper notebook is essential.
How many people, outside of family, do you meet in a day?
Every day is slightly different. On any given day, there are normally around 100-200 people working at our Shoreditch office or around 200 at our distribution center in Oxfordshire.
Both workspaces are sociable places, and I sit in a different seat most days so that I can really understand what all the teams are up to. I like the variety of sitting in our customer-care area and listening and speaking to customers on the phone one day to spending time with our marketing team the following day.
We keep meetings short at HelloFresh so I have in-depth conversations with 20 people a day roughly. I regularly meet customers as we like to host events at our office to learn more about their experience with HelloFresh.
A couple of evenings a week, I like to meet up with friends or people in my network.
What book have you read, either recently or in the past, that has inspired you?
The Emotionally Intelligent Manager by David Caruso and Peter Salovey is a book I return again and again. It really changed my thinking on EQ and people management. I’ve bought copies for our offices because I think it’s a book everyone can benefit from.
I also like Act Like A Leader, Think Like A Leader by Herminia Ibarra, which is great for people thinking about their leadership style and is lovely and practical.
What advice would you give for people who are eager to get into your industry?
Go for it. It’s better to take an opportunity and get the experience it gives you rather than procrastinating and losing time. You can always pivot when you see what you enjoy about the opportunity.
When do you work until? Are you still sending emails in the night? Or do you have a wind-down routine?
Most evenings when I don’t have events, we eat a HelloFresh meal together as a family around 8 p.m.
My husband or daughters often start cooking while I am commuting home—I am guilty of emailing or reading news or Facebooking until late, but then I listen to audiobooks to wind down before I fall asleep.
I have a history of waking up with an idea at 3:30 a.m. and, at one time, I had quite a reputation for the 4 a.m. email among my colleagues.
After a while, I learned how scary it is for my team to receive a 4 a.m. email from me, and now I just save it as a draft and, if it still seems as important in the morning (about 10% of the time), I send it then instead.
If you could ask your idol one question, who would it be, and what would you ask?
I’d ask Barack Obama for his best piece of advice on leadership and his awesome public speaking.
What do you think your industry will look like in 10 years?
I think more and more people will rely on meal kits in the future as it’s just such a convenient way to cook and enjoy nutritious food. Personalized nutrition will become a bigger trend as consumers are able to access data and food that meets their specific needs. And delivery will continue to develop, and we’re likely to see more and more automation in this area.
I believe my grandchildren will be bemused by the idea of owning a car or going to a supermarket to shop for a week’s meals in advance!
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