Supply chain and procurement director Gary Lake tells Food Manufacture a little about himself and his role at The Collective Diary in the next edition of All in a Day’s Work.
Supply chain and procurement director
Company and location
I work at The Collective Dairy in our UK office in White City, London.
I have a degree in 3D design, which reflects my fascination with everything in three dimensions and perhaps led me into the physical supply chain. I’m a member of Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), and I’m working towards Membership of Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (MCIPS).
Anything in a taco! I just think you can’t go wrong with some veggies or meat with Mexican spices, salad, salsa and sour cream, and I love the sharpness of a little lime juice. Controversially, on the guacamole I can take it or leave it.
What inspired you to enter F&B?
Everyone needs to eat, right? So, making delicious, nutritious, safe and enjoyable food for is really important and makes me proud to be a part of it. In a world of high-tech transformations, I find the food and drink sector reassuringly fundamental to our everyday lives.
Tell us about your role
I run the end to end operations of a fully outsourced supply chain, from procurement of raw materials and packaging, through manufacturing and delivery to the consumer. This is incredibly broad and makes the role exceptionally interesting and full of thought-provoking challenges. This extends into sustainability also, as I lead the B Corp certification and sustainability agenda for the business; I believe that the supply chain will change the world so it’s imperative that we drive continuous improvement in this area the same as we might on operational efficiency.
What does a typical day look like?
One day I might be sourcing new manufacturers and suppliers of packaging or raw ingredients, the next I might be negotiating contracts for manufacturing for the following six years of supply, or you could also find me developing a sustainability strategy for the whole business. Every day is unique.
Being on the leadership team creates great opportunities to be working on the long-term business strategy and allows me to be involved across all functions in the decision-making process and, ultimately, driving growth. It also requires a good understanding of both the retailers’ and supplier strategies, and an ability to navigate our own plans to make the best of it..
How did you get to where you are today?
I started working in a flour mill as a logistics operations assistant for a 3PL, in a portacabin on the Southampton Docks. I love bread and all bakery, so I was fascinated to see the wheat coming off the boats and into the mill at the start of the process.
Since then, I have tried to gain new experiences up and down the supply chain - domestically and internationally. I’ve worked in the UK, New Zealand and for a brief spell in Bulgaria.
What helped me was being endlessly curious how things work and having a strong desire to help people solve problems; if you give me an impossible challenge I couldn’t be happier!
When you’re having a bad day, what cheers you up?
Usually my wife; she has an innate ability to make everything seem better with a cup of tea and a biscuit!
What’s your favourite part about the food sector?
The never-ending drive for perfection through continuous improvement, innovation and design; whether that’s factory equipment or ingredients, food manufacturing is such a hive of development and learning. And all of this to achieve simple pleasures such as the most delicious natural fruits in a separate layer with your yoghurt.
If you could change one thing about the F&B sector what would it be?
I believe we fundamentally undervalue our food in this country, I think if we really valued it, we would produce less waste, eat less, be more healthy and enjoy our eating experiences more.
What’s next for you/what’s the dream?
I’d love to see The Collective grow and be in every fridge in the country, and to get there I’m excited about supporting the upcoming innovation we have planned across both kids and adult yoghurts. After that I’m always looking for new experiences and learning opportunities, so who knows!?
All in a Day's Work is published at the start of each month. Read our last one here, in which Zuzana van Beveren of Cargill, tells us about her role as a meat, meat alternatives and pet food scientist.