Jane: Jo, you are one half of the famous Bertinet Kitchen cookery school in Bath.(One of the top ten in UK) Many people may be more familiar with your husband, Richard, who is fast becoming a national celebrity. What is your role in the partnership?
Jo: I run everything behind the scenes. Richard is our product and I work with a team of two others to promote and market him as well as to take care of all the day to day activities of the kitchen (enquiries, sales, orders, invoices etc) and Richard’s consultancy work.
Jane: Do you ever hanker after the limelight?
Jo: No!! I’m not particularly keen on having my photo taken so I don’t think I would be very good at it.
Jane: Do you remember what your first paid job was? How much did you earn?
Jo: Yes – I worked in a florists shop in Cheltenham every Sunday while I was at school. I was paid @£2 (about $3.50) an hour which seemed a huge amount at the time!
Jane: What were your career thoughts when you left school? Did you go on to further education?
Jo: I left school to read law at University College London and then after my degree went to the College of Law for a year before joining a big city law firm.
Jane: Did you have a plan? Or did you react to events as they happened?
Jo: When I left school I fell into my first career – I knew I wanted a change from my A level subjects and felt that I was expected to follow a ‘proper profession’. Sadly I never really enjoyed it. I remember saying within the first 3 months of starting work that someday I wanted to run my own business. In the end it took more than 12 years to leave!
Once Richard and I had decided to combine our skills and open a cookery school I went into planning overdrive – something I learnt as a lawyer. It took about 18 months of planning, writing our business plan, finding the right premises and securing the necessary funding before we left London and started the building work in Bath.
Jane: What problems and benefits have you found in combining motherhood and a career?
Jo: It has always been a tough challenge and certainly accounted for part of the reason why we left London and set up The Bertinet Kitchen. I needed to be more in control of my time. I am very happy to work hard and put in the hours but I hated missing school assemblies and shows or sports days.
Now I probably work longer hours than I did when I was in the city (and that is saying something) but I can always be at events to support the kids. I have always felt that I wanted to work and I am not sure I would have the patience to stay at home – looking after kids is much harder than running a business!
Jane: When are you happiest?
Jo: Any lazy Sunday morning at home with the family and everyone piled onto our bed.
Jane: How do you relax?
Jo: Sadly I don’t do this enough. I do Pilates once a week – an hour of ‘me’ time – the harder my instructor makes me work the more it takes my mind off the office and the more relaxed I am as a result. Once a year we try to take a really good break away from work and go off to France for a few weeks. We don’t do anything much but swim, play with the kids and eat and drink a bit too much, but its great for reviving flagging spirits.
Jane: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in life?
Jo: To take a few calculated risks.
Jane: Who has been the most significant and or influential person in your life?
Jo: Richard – it’s great to be able to live and work with someone who shares the same values and goals as I do. Without him I just wouldn’t be doing what I am doing now and I think he would probably say the same thing.
Jane: If the present Jo could give some advice to the 18 year old Jo what would it be?
Jo: I would probably suggest that I take a year off (something I didn’t do) and take the time to work out what I wanted to do with my life. At 18 I definitely felt that I needed to get on with life more than I actually needed to.
Jane: What do you think is the secret of happiness?
Jo: Probably remembering to enjoy the ride as well as focusing on the destination.
Jane: Jo, thank you so much for sharing your experience with us!
If you’d like to find out a bit more about the Bertinet Cookery
School this link will take you straight there.
Books by Richard Bertinet
Posted on August 28th, 2008 by Jane