In the hot seat

Paul Gibson, managing director, McKees

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF

I’m 32, married to Hannah and we have three children together. I started my career in retail management and spent a decade at Lidl NI, including seven years as part of the senior management team. Recently I’ve joined McKee’s based in Maghera as managing director. We’re a family business that produces over 70 quality items such as Scotch eggs, coleslaw and pies to over 150 supermarkets/convenience stores across Northern Ireland.

 

WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY INVOLVE?

A typical day consists of a balance between presence on the factory floor and our shop floor where I enjoy the buzz of both and then time spent in the office. Our people are our most important asset; I enjoy hearing and speaking with them directly. The time I spend with our management team is always solution orientated and how we can be better. I also try to spend some part of the day looking at how technology can help us; I never cease to be amazed at how there’s a machine somewhere for absolutely anything.

 

WHAT HAS BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE?

I’m very fortunate to have two. Being given the opportunity to become head of sales operations for Lidl NI at 25 years old and the responsibility that comes with that role, was both enjoyable and rewarding. I thoroughly enjoyed my 10 years there and it’s where I had the best possible education.

The second highlight is my current role as managing director of McKee’s. Having the responsibility of leading such a successful family business with the tradition and reputation that it has, and with the challenges that lie ahead, is something I’m really enjoying.

 

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?

Whilst I enjoy getting into the detail of a topic, I also enjoy variety. Looking at buying prices one minute, then an HR topic the next, makes my job very interesting and exciting. I also enjoy the ability to be able to make things happen quickly. In a family business, we’re not tied to time-consuming approval processes or having meetings about meetings, we can get things done relatively quickly. I never turn down sampling or taste testing either.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST DIFFICULT TASK?

There’s never enough time in the day. Having an enjoyable job becomes very addictive and it’s difficult to say enough for today. Having a family makes that easier as the welcome you get when daddy comes home is unbeatable.

 

WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?

Surround yourself with strong people. Few things can be achieved alone, let alone in business. It’s easier to meet the objective when you have good people beside you. I’m very fortunate that at McKee’s we have very experienced and knowledgeable people are who experts at what they do.

 

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST GRIPE?

Aside from taxation, negativity. Seldom is something impossible and a positive can-do attitude can get you far – it’s a very endearing characteristic.

 

WHAT TALENT WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE?

I’d love to be a maestro on the piano – that said, I haven’t a note in my head!

 

WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS/AMBITIONS?

I’m determined to grow McKee’s in order to reach its full potential. We have a great tradition and reputation for quality that we’ll maintain first and foremost, then we want every household in Northern Ireland to enjoy eating our products.

 

WHOM DO YOU MOST ADMIRE?

Both my father and father-in-law. Both have a strong work ethic and have made something happen in their careers, starting with nothing. They both stick to their principles and do things right and also do the right thing.

 

WHERE IS YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE?

There really is no place like home and I love Northern Ireland. In particular, the North Coast is a place I am fond of, it’s where I studied and where I met my wife.

 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE FOOD PRODUCT?

I have three. For breakfast, a McKee’s Scotch Egg is a real treat. For a tea time meal McKee’s Lasagne is exceptionally moreish. I also could eat McKee’s Breadcrumb stuffing with almost anything – if my Christmas dinner had only turkey, McKee’s glazed ham, McKee’s stuffing and gravy I’d be happy.

 

HOW DO YOU RELAX?

I’m not the type to seek opportunities to relax; however, what I most enjoy outside of work is spending time with my family. We’ve recently had a baby, so we’ve forgotten what relaxation even is. I also enjoy getting as much running and swimming squeezed in along with a game of snooker, despite how bad I am at it.

 

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