A nation's favourite: Nando's Hannah Gerrard CA explains how the chain reinvents itself
In the second interview of our series highlighting CAs in the food industry, we hear from Hannah Gerrard CA, Commercial Business Analysis Partner at Nando's.
What attracted you to your current role?
I worked at EY for five years and then with London 2012 for a couple of years, which was amazing. After that, I wasn't really sure what to do because I didn't want to stay in the events industry as the Olympics had been the pinnacle for me. I was attracted to the idea of a restaurant as something tangible that I can relate to and everyone has an opinion on.
Nando's just seemed really interesting. The job itself gave me an opportunity to move from core finance into a more commercial role. The brand is really strong and one that everyone knows and most people love.
Which part of your job are you most passionate about?
You know that the decisions you make have a direct impact. I felt that with audit, while it was a great area to get my experience, you're not really changing anything or doing anything immediate. Whereas now, when we talk about pricing, the decisions we make actually affects the customers.
It decides what we launch, what we trial, how our menus develop and what we take off. Any analysis that I feed into making those decisions impacts the customer and that's what I like the most.
The brand is really strong and one that everyone knows and most people love.
When I talk to people about Nando's they always ask something like "Where's this burger?" and I can say that we took it off the menu to try something new instead. That's really interesting to me.
How has the CA qualification benefited your career?
It's a bit of a gateway. Once you've got that qualification, people will see that on your CV and it's not something that goes away. There's a kind of accolade and respect that goes along with it. People know that you're capable.
What has been your greatest achievement?
Probably passing my TPE exam, even if it was on the third attempt!
There's a kind of accolade and respect that goes along with [the CA]. People know that you're capable.
Career-wise, it definitely has to be working on London 2012. It was such an amazing experience and London was a great place to be at the time. Everyone was working towards the same thing and I'm very proud that I was a part of the event.
Who has been your inspiration?
My brother. He's older than me and just a great person. He's ACA qualified and his career path, though we've taken different roads, has been inspiring to me.
Looking at his life, the way that he's enjoyed his career and worked in practice before moving through different industries, I thought 'Yeah, he's got a good life'.
What challenges do you feel are unique to the food industry?
It's always evolving. You walk down any high street and everything is always changing. Places that were independent five years ago get crowdfunding and venture capital investment and are now huge brands like Franco Manca, for example. It adds up to a lot of competition.
This is one of the industries that has one of the most direct links to developments in the wider economy. In a recession, people are still going to buy from supermarkets but they'll likely stop going out for meals so often.
We have to be conscious of that and of how we place ourselves especially at somewhere like Nando's. Offering value and staying appealing to customers is so important.