James Whyte - Chilled & Seafood Manager, Farro Fresh Grey Lynn
If there’s anything that our small firmament of rising stars is teaching us, is that ambition, enthusiasm and hard work are the master key to success. This same winning combination allowed 22-year-old James ‘Jimmy’ Whyte to become a manager at Farro Fresh when he was only 20.
Born and raised in Auckland with two older sisters, Whyte started working for Farro four years ago, while studying Business at Auckland University. Six months into Uni, though, he realised that a hands-on approach was more of his cup of tea. “I thought I could get to where I needed to be by going into full-time work,” Whyte told us.
Farro has provided a fertile training ground for his career. During the first year, he worked in grocery, deli, chilled, seafood and at the checkout, helping wherever needed. Then a full-time position in the chilled team became available. “I went through two managers and learnt everything I could from them. I tried to work as hard as I could to make sure the job was done.”
The turning point came when Farro offered him a role as manager at its Lunn Avenue store. He worked there for eight months, before returning to Grey Lynn to become the chilled manager in October 2015. “I would say it kicked off around a year into being full-time, and I haven’t looked back since.”
However, to misquote Spiderman, with a higher position comes great responsibility. As a young man of twenty, Whyte suddenly had to deal with the pressure of meeting sales targets, keeping the store presentable at all times and motivating the team. “As I was the same age or younger than most of my staff, I had to work hard to get that respect from them, which was one of the biggest challenges.”
For him, being a great manager is about showing how to be a leader, being able to tell staff, ‘There is nothing I will ask you to do that I will not do myself’.
“All managers have a different style. I motivate my team by empowering them, by giving them the tools to do their job and then praising them when they do well. It works this way with negative feedback as well,” said Whyte. “Generally, just talking to them, learning what motivates them and identifying their strengths is the key.”
Farro has offered him support and training opportunities, and so have his previous managers Sujan and Hamish. Good attitude, hard work and the encouragement of his partner, family and friends have done the rest.
“What motivates me is seeing the company grow and the people around me develop their skills. The products we work with are awesome, and so are my colleagues, who always make it fun to come to work.”
Looking ahead to the future, he aims to start a family and be the best at whatever he will be doing, with the same hunger for improvement that has got him to where he’s now.
“Professionally, if I am doing something I love, I will be happy. But my goal is always to be moving up and not to take a step backwards.”