The Caterer
Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

Wendy Bartlett, director, Bartlett Mitchell: My life in hospitality

03 January 2008

Highs…

My biggest achievement has to be starting Bartlett Mitchell back in 2000. One of the joys of owning your own company is that you can make your decisions not based just on business but on your own values and what your team wants. That's very different from working for a large organisation, and I find that the smallest things are rewarding, whether it's a card from a team member or a client phoning to say thanks.

When we first started, my partner Ian (Mitchell) and I pretty much did everything, from covering for someone if they were off to dealing with accountants and IT. It was a big, steep learning curve for us both. I wouldn't say it was difficult, because it was what we wanted, but everything has to come from you when it's your own business.

On Christmas Eve 2001 we won our first proper contract, which was a very big moment. Since then, winning contracts fair and square from clients that we'd looked after in our previous lives has been very satisfying and, on a personal level, I'm also proud that I've been able to learn the strategic side of the business. I'm a fantastic caterer - I know about food, budgets and people - but I've had to learn the other stuff. Of course, we try to have fun too. There's just no point coming to work if you don't enjoy it.

Lows…

Probably my least comfortable move was when I was brought in to run an employment agency for Sutcliffe, which I did for a year until they sold it. I found it hard because you couldn't really get any loyalty from people, and I prefer being able to build up relationships. Apart from that, I've been lucky in my jobs. At BM, I can honestly say I've never had lows. It's a challenge, because we're always juggling, but we enjoy it, so it's not onerous. With hindsight, I would have brought in a financial director earlier, I think, for added support. If you've got good people like we have, it's OK, but things can easily go awry.

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Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.

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