· 1 min read · Features

Flexibility a vital ingredient for Wahaca co-founder

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Masterchef winner and Wahaca co-founder Thomasina Miers see flexible working as key to the success of her restuarant chain.

For Miers, no two days are the same. She works between three and four days a week and is responsible for meeting with her business partner and board; scouting for new inspiration; devising or amending new recipes with head chefs; working on Wahaca’s sustainability credentials; writing newsletters, recipes and books; introducing new recruits and driving Wahaca ever forward in creative and inspiring ways.

The Masterchef 2005 winner co-founded Wahaca in 2007, with the aim of bringing the spirit of Mexican cooking to the UK while also sourcing food and building the business in a holistic, sustainable way. It now employs about 600 staff and recently won the Most Sustainable Restaurant Group 2013 award.

Miers says flexible working and space for creativity have been key ingredients in her success. From the start, she believed that if she worked five days a week running the business, it could take over from the creative side of her career. She also travels around the world a lot for inspiration.

“As a cook, wherever you are, you are always learning and adding to your knowledge base. Having the freedom to explore new ideas is key to staying inspired and fresh,” she says.

Miers now has two extra reasons for working flexibly – young children, aged 3 and 15 months old. “My working weeks are quite fluid and changeable, but once a week, I keep a day back specifically for family. This takes real discipline – there’s always a temptation to carry on working. It’s something you need to work at constantly.

“For me, success lies in having a winning team around you who have a full understanding of the scope of your role… and crucially, where it stops. Delegation is key, something that is difficult in an industry where complete control is usually desired.

“Flexibility is important; it leads to a happier working environment. Everyone works in their own way. If we can make work ‘work’ with someone’s life, so much the better.”