How I Made It: I went from barrister to butcher and never looked back

How I Made It: I went from barrister to butcher and never looked back

Welcome back to How I Made It,’s weekly career journey series.

This week we’re chatting to Lucianne Allen, who went from being a high-flying barrister to running a successful family butcher business.

Lucianne, 49, from Coventry, had been a barrister for 10 years before leaving her profession in 2008 to start anew. For Lucianne, having a child meant her priorities had to shift, but she embraced the opportunity to learn about a completely new industry.

She joined Aubrey Allen, a butchers that’s been in her family since 1933 and supplies meat to some of the nation’s best-known chefs.

This year they’ll celebrate 90 years in the business, but for her part in the company’s more recent success, Lucianne is now the two-time winner of the Meat Business Woman of the Year award.

Admittedly, she’s more likely to be found behind a desk than behind the counter, but she certainly knows her way around a good steak, too.

Here, Lucianne gets honest about her dramatic shift in career, money and more.

Hey Lucianne. What made you get into being a barrister? 

I wanted to become a criminal barrister from the age of 11 years old – I loved debating, public speaking and drama as well as English, so it seemed like a natural career.

I did work experience when I was 16 and it confirmed that was my dream. Funnily enough I have ended up finding that a lot of these areas are just as relevant at Aubrey Allen too.

What made you want to career switch to working for a butchers?

The career change was prompted by a number of things, it was a work hard, play hard profession and things changed – I left when I still loved it.

I also had my first child and that changed things for me – Aubrey Allen has an excellent flexible approach to working hours, which really helped me balance a career and being a mother.

Also, I think I have always had a draw towards business – it’s in the blood.

The opportunity to work with my brother, Russell Allen who is the MD of Aubrey Allen, felt like a natural fit and we share in the same vision for an open and collaborative approach to the business, an environment I love to work in myself.

How was the transition?

The biggest thing I had to learn was delegation; being a barrister you are a self-employed lone wolf.

Working with a team, sharing my ideas with people and delegating tasks were the biggest learning curves, but now our team is everything.

We ensure we have an open line of communication with them, offering a host of incentives to help maintain low staff turnover, which really helps achieve our long term goals.

What do you love the most about your job now? 

I love looking at how we can help people reach their full potential through coaching and getting them in the right roles, our ambition is to nurture the next generation of butchery talent.

We have our Training Academy which helps see our butchers work their way up the company.

We couldn’t achieve what we have without our incredible staff who drive a culture of continual improvement. It is the heartbeat that runs through the business.

Lucianne’s average day:

9am: Check in with various departments such as transport, accounts, admin, and sales office. Review the daily dashboard to get an idea of sales direction and check bank balances to ensure finances are in order.

10am: Take some time to check my emails and LinkedIn, creating a post to keep the network informed and engaged. After that, review sales targets from the previous month, commissions, and pipeline to make sure we’re on track to meet goals.

11am: Attend the weekly pricing meeting and review the market and discuss pricing strategies.

12pm-2pm: Hold an open sales clinic to provide sales coaching to the team, and provide any help they may need.

2pm: New product launch day which consists of food tastings and arranging samples to be sent to clients. 

4pm: Collect the children from school.

5pm: Make any calls needed to the field sales team and respond to emails. 

5.30pm: Finish the working day.

Despite the busy schedule, Lucianne makes sure to maintain a healthy work-life balance by working away from the business once a week.

As we look to the future we are determined to lead in our commitments for sustainable change, and shift the industry’s male-only reputation to inspire the next generation of female butchers.

What do you dislike the most about your job now?

I am very lucky – I don’t dislike any part of what I do – I have complete freedom to work in the areas of the business that I see need improvement, and I have an incredible team around me.

I suppose, believe it or not, food tasting can be tricky sometimes – I don’t always want to taste charcuterie or a new terrine or cheese at 10am in the morning!

Do you have any impressive customers at Aubrey Allen?

We supply the Royal Household, and Raymond Blanc who has been a long time friend of ours.

Did you take a pay cut at all and by how much?

Yes, I took a significant pay cut of £30,000 when I switched to Aubrey Allen 15 years ago.

However, the reliability of a monthly salary and the flexibility to work around family commitments made it worthwhile.

As a barrister, the work is very ad hoc because you are self-employed and rely on cases finishing and getting legal aid payments in.

Do you have a story to share?

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