Meet Brody, a Mentor at The Commons and VP Operations at Flashfood.
To summarize Brody's career path in one line: University of Guelph Commerce → Sous Chef → Sales @ Labatt → Sourcing & Ops @ Chefs Plate → Vendor & Ops @ Notch → VP Ops @ Flashfood.
Describe yourself with 3 emojis
🌮 I love food and tacos are a personal favourite
🧑🌾 I live in the country and love to garden
🍻 I love getting together for a cold one on a patio
Current role & location?
📍VP Operations in Toronto.
What prompted you to pivot industries?
I wanted to tackle larger problems. I was passionate about restaurants and beverage sales, but I wanted to do something that challenged me more daily.
How did you identify what types of roles you wanted to shift to?
I wasn’t very familiar with the tech industry and I had a limited network at the time so I had to find a different approach. The Commons would have been a huge benefit to me at the time!
I focused my job search on the skills I wanted to learn. I identified the next chapter of my career as a learning opportunity. This lead me to search for companies with missions I was excited about and those that were tackling huge problems. I knew that this would be the best way to learn quickly.
How did you get into food tech?
My wife (then girlfriend) actually found the opportunity at Chefs Plate and had to sell me on it. I owe her a lot for pushing me to get into food tech.
What was the interview process like?
Chefs Plate was an early stage company, so the interview process was relatively casual with the CEO and manager for the role. I had a lot of relevant experience buying food, which their team was lacking. Funny story, I was the guy who showed up in a full suit to an interview, meanwhile the co-founder was wearing shorts and flip flops 🤦.
How has your thinking around your career path changed over time?
I have become more focused on the skills I would like to gain in a future role. To make sure I find the right fit, I focus on the team dynamic and what the day to day would look like in that position. It is important for me to learn from the people I work with and make sure I will be challenged.
When pivoting from food delivery industry into tech, what have been the biggest changes you’ve noticed?
The most shocking was probably the back pain I experienced from sitting at a desk all day. I had always been in roles where I was constantly on my feet, so that was a big shift. The biggest surprise for me was learning the importance of strategically communicating my ideas. I found out early on that having a good idea is only a small piece of the puzzle.
We're so happy you're part of The Commons! What have been your favourite parts about being a mentor?
1. Meeting intelligent and interesting people. Both mentors and mentees have so much wisdom to offer!
2. Helping mentees refine their skills to be more effective in tech organizations.
3. Following along with all the progress mentees are making in their careers.
Has there been anything unexpected that you’ve got out of participating with The Commons?
Inspiration from other community members on how to solve problems and organize an effective team. The network The Commons has brought together is world class, which provides a great platform to get feedback on your ideas.
What's your favorite way of keeping involved with the community outside of mentoring?
Slack channels and coffee chats. The community is very active, I rarely go longer than a week without a one on one with a fellow member of The Commons community.
What should people who are thinking about joining The Commons know about it?
It is an amazing learning experience! You get to refine technical skills like SQL and creating kick-ass decks. Perhaps even more valuable, is the opportunity to develop the necessary social skills to working effectively with different personalities.
Tell us about your current role!
I am a VP Operations at Flashfood where I lead our operations department (which is an interesting mix of biz ops, consulting, and account management). We focus on the supply side of our marketplace, ensuring there are great deals posted and the in-store shopper experience is world class.
What's one of the coolest projects that you've worked on?
Project Objective: Procuring Pre-frozen Ice Packs at Chefs Plate
Project Overview: Ice packs or gel packs are extremely fickle. They take a long time to freeze in large quantities and there are lot of environmental factors that you need to take into consideration when freezing them. We were way over budget on gel packs because of the storage costs and we kept bringing cases from storage that were only partially frozen, even though they had been in a freezer longer then 6 weeks! My directive was to cut costs and make sure every gel pack we received was frozen moving forward.
Your Role: I was the project lead, responsible for the raw material cost, storage fees, shipping, and most importantly making sure we always had frozen gel packs
What made it so interesting? Finding out that gel packs on the outside of a pallet act as an insulator, making it harder for the gel packs on the inside of the pallet to freeze!
Why should someone work at Flashfood?
You get to make a massive impact everyday. The solution we are working on is helping feed families while simultaneously reducing the environmental impact of food waste.
What’s a fun perk you can expect working at Flashfood?
1. Extra-long weekends April to September.
2. Maternity & Parental Leave Top Up Plan.
3. Christmas Break.
4. Great mental health benefits.
5. Remote first culture.
What advice would you give to your former self at the beginning of your job search?
Increase your network and learn more about the start-up/tech industry before jumping in.
Any words of wisdom for people who are looking to make a similar career move?
Determine what stage company you want to join before you start applying to roles.
What’s an unpopular opinion or belief you hold about careers, tech or the job search?
Be really clear with what you don’t like and don’t want to do so that you can eliminate it from your search.
And now, a few of your favourites:
📰 Where you get your daily news: The Peak.
📚Book: Any biography, I love learning about people’s life story!
🎨 What you're doing outside of work: Working in my vegetable garden
🌟 A CEO or leader you admire: Ryan Gellert, CEO Patagonia
💬 An inspiring business quote: "The elevator to success is out of order. You’ll have to use the stairs, one step at a time."
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