Doireann Barrett is the founding owner of The Gluten Free Kitchen Company, a multi-award-winning food and wellness brand. After a lifetime of symptoms, Doireann was finally diagnosed in 2004 with coeliac disease. Thereafter she saw a gap in the market with the café/deli offering and began her journey to develop The GFK Co. Her ambition is to eventually create a safe brand of outlets that cater for those suffering with food intolerances and allergies while allowing her customers to enjoy a meal amongst loved ones without the unfortunate stigma and label that currently excludes a person with dietary exclusions.
Doireann currently runs her brand supplying her artisan food products to the foodservice sector, food-stall events and her online store supplying food and wellness products on a nationwide and global platform. Doireann is a co-author of a published case study on her business model which was co-written by Trinity College Business School Professors Paul Coughlan & David Coghlan, Claire Riggs Liverpool University UK & Denise O’ Leary, UCD College Dublin. Doireann’s case study chapter was published by Emerald Books in 2016, “Organising Supply Chain Processes for Sustainable Innovation in the Agri-Food Industry”. This case study was presented in Milan, Italy in November 2015 during the Milan Expo.
Since the establishment of The GFK Co. food and wellness brand, Doireann and her team have gone onto win many awards, nominations and accreditations and have received lots of media attention. Doireann has a big interest in wellness and well-being and in her spare time enjoys yoga, surf and holistic workshops.
Can leadership be taught? If so, how?
Yes! Leadership can be taught by example and improved independently. My earliest example of leadership was from watching my father run three businesses and still manage to be at home for our main meal time to sit with his family, something I took for granted until I took on my own business project. I always knew I wanted to run my own business but I was quite insecure about branching out so I began to learn from other leaders in their fields and eventually my own confidence grew and I just bit the bullet and learned as I went along.
What do you think is the difference between management and leadership?
Leadership is getting stuck into every aspect of your business project. In the management role its easy to get conditioned into the thinking that there are other people hired to do specific roles while you supervise and stand back, leadership, in my opinion, is when you have the ability to do every other role without question and are constantly learning and evolving.
The world around us is changing faster than at any time in human history and we need more leaders to emerge. How do we make this happen?
By being confident in our ability to know that we have the power to make a change in the world, be that big or small. We are all equal and we all have the ability to learn new skills, it’s about having the passion and encouragement to do that. Instead of criticising and judging we need to be more encouraging and supportive of our friends/family, small businesses and local entrepreneurs! More empathy, kindness, morals and compassion towards our fellow human!
What advice would you give to someone dealing with a high-pressure situation in their life or work?
Yoga, surf and meditation! I feel I learned the skill of organisation and time management from becoming a parent in 2002. My son’s father and I parted when he was 1 years old so as we learned to co-parent it gave me the skills to organise my time management between my career, my “me time” and my homelife that when I was beginning my food brand journey I had already acquired that skill. I believe it is so important to structure downtime into your life. I find yoga and meditation hugely beneficial because you can use the practice of meditation in your everyday life on and off the mat and most recently I took up surf after years of not having the confidence to put on the suit and jump in the water and it has been the best form of therapy, there is no time for phones/emails and texts while out in the ocean the perfect switch off time! Start putting yourself first, it’s not selfish it’s a must. Invest in two phones and switch your work phone off out of office hours, be disciplined in separating “office time” to “home time”. Have your emails on your laptop or work phone only. Our children grow fast, invest the majority of your time into your children, there is plenty of time in the day, it’s how you choose to structure your time is the secret. I’m a huge advocate for holistic living so it comes naturally to me how I handle high pressure, if I find myself with high anxiety I know I am not looking after myself. Whenever you feel out of balance in your life, never be afraid to step back, mind yourself, remove yourself from relationships and social circles that do not benefit your growth and learn to say no. Never be ashamed to ask for help!
What is the one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others?
Difficult question! Perhaps none, as mistakes are made to learn from!
What are a few resources (books, blogs, podcasts, people, courses etc) you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader?
Over the years I have attended many events which promoted wellbeing and have listened to many leaders speak which has inspired me hugely. I read lots of books and many articles. I follow many relevant social media pages and watch lots of YouTube videos and I am always interested in learning more. In 2014 I introduced more wellbeing and holistic living into my brand and have been attending many ancient ritual workshops to learn more about the holistic approach to our lives. I listen to at least one motivational talk a day and listen to many TedX Podcasts. I follow many leaders and influencers including Richard Branson, Niall Breslin and Norah Casey to name but a few and feel it is so important to share our stories and experiences with others who may be inspired by our journey and then they may not feel so alone in theirs. I also love to listen to the various business shows and the Sunday Business Post is a great read!