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Paul Grey

A Day in the Life: Paul Grey

CN spends time with the CEO of Friends House Hospitality

I’m an early bird. I leave my house at 6.30am to catch the high-speed train from Ashford to St Pancras. 

I live in a lovely village in Kent, overlooking the Romney Marsh. I know it’s a bad habit, but I don’t have breakfast in the morning. I grab a coffee on the go – that’s what keeps me going.

When I arrive in central London (our venue, Friends House, is opposite Euston station), I head straight to the gym. I’ve been going every day for the last 10 years. I start my day with 30-40 minutes of exercise. 

My gym time is crucial to my day. I do my best thinking while on the treadmill. That’s where I came up with the idea for ‘Bake the Difference’, a new in-house bakery project to train people with personality disorders, transitioning from prison or hospital. All baked goods produced would be sold in our café or used for our event catering. Projects which include the whole community are important to our Quaker values. 

I’m at my desk at 9am. 

I’m more creative in the morning as my dyslexia usually kicks in the afternoon, so this is the best time for me to find innovative solutions and meet with my team. At the moment, we’re looking at fundraising solutions for Bake the Difference.

I’m passionate about people and the planet, and I make sure that our values are alive every day. 

We are heartfelt, loving, pioneering and responsible. If an excellent piece of customer feedback comes my way, I make sure to share it with all of the team. I want everybody to feel valued. I believe that engagement is vital and makes a business successful.

At the moment, we’re mainly looking at the effects that Brexit could have on the conferencing business and our staff retention. I’m managing the costing crisis and trying to see how not to pass it on customers. That’s an everyday challenge. 

I usually bring my lunch: soup or salad. I sometimes go to our café and bookshop for a vegetarian meal. I’m trying to be healthy and keep the gym dynamics going.

In the afternoon, I work on our sustainable and ethical priorities. As a Quaker venue, we are always looking at minimising our environmental impact, for example, I’ve just finished our strategic environmental framework. We want to tackle packaging and plastic use in our conferencing and retail operations. That implies rethinking the way we work with suppliers. We also want to help customers make their events even more sustainable. I advise my team on how to do that.

I try to head home around 5pm. I usually cook every night for my husband and me. I started my career as a chef and cooking helps me release the stress of the day. After dinner, I do like to check our social media channels and do a little bit of tweeting. 

I believe in maintaining a good work/life balance, so I’m in bed by 10pm.