GT – What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

004-Darren-A-Smith-C-150415-copya‘Beating the Big Boys’. There’s nothing like winning a training contract when you are up against one of the big training companies.

GT – Who’s inspired you most in your career?

Three people most inspired me; Paul Barber, who is now Buying Director at Costa Coffee, because he was a true people manager. Someone that had found a way to do what all the leadership books say you should.

Jack Black of Mindstore, because he presented his mental fitness programme to 10,000 Sainsbury’s people in 2000, and two years later I resigned to pursue my dream. The third is Napoleon Hill for the book that he wrote, ‘Think and Grow Rich,’ because he interviewed 500 top business people and discovered their secret to success.

GT – If you were an item in a supermarket, what would you be?

A shopping trolley. I always seem to be on the move searching for new things, I’m jam packed with successes, mistakes, and every now and again I go a little off course trying something new and need to be brought back on track.

GT – If you had to do it all over again, what would you do different?

Laugh more, cry less, stop worrying, work fewer hours, see more friends and family, play more, and care a little less about some things.

GT -What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you at work?

As a member of the support team to the Sainsbury’s buying office back in the early 90’s we’d had a Christmas night out. I was a little worse for wear.

The next day I was invited by the Senior Manager to sit in on an important meeting. Oh, why did they give me the comfy chair? Yes, snoring could be heard!

GT -Who or what makes you laugh?

Jim Davidson, because he does not adhere to everything that is politically correct. He is old enough to get away with some things others couldn’t.

And I like he can still laugh at everything and anything and with everyone too. And no-one seems to take what he says too seriously.

GT – Do you have any hidden talents?

Call me a clown… I can juggle, and ride a unicycle.

GT -Who would be your favourite party guest?

tedTed, the bear from ‘Ted,’ because I don’t think anyone can party like that bear can.

GT -What is the greatest luxury in your life?

I treated myself some years back to a new car. An Audi A5 S Line Quattro. My pride and joy. Three litres of muscle with a fantastic Bose sound system.

GT -What is your favourite guilty pleasure?

A Pot Noodle. I love the contrast between being fortunate enough to have worked in one of the greatest supermarkets as a buyer sampling and trying new foods. Though sometimes a Pot Noodle, probably during camping, just hits the spot.

GT – Do you have any secret ambitions?

I had three ambitions. To write a book, appear on TV, and own a Bentley. The first two I achieved recently with my GSCOP book and an appearance on BBC’s ‘Rip off Britain’ as a supermarket industry expert. The latter ambition remains for now.

GT -What’s your dream holiday destination?

Lanzarote. We love the feel of the island. Like a second home. The weather is great, the people are friendly, and the sights and attractions magnificent.

GT – What are your three favourite movies of all time?

Gladiator – A true boy’s film. Never been beaten. Forrest Gump, because it is just so different to any other film with a story told so well. Shawshank Redemption. Enough said.

GT -What is your favourite book of all time?

‘The Damage Done’ by Warren Fellows. It challenges you at the start of this true story to decide whether the main character deserved his punishment by the end of reading the book. A true story about an Australian drug trafficker who was sentenced to life in a Bangkok prison and all that he endured during his time.

GT -What’s your favourite pastime?

Being at a music festival with my family. Recently I volunteered to help out behind a bar at a music festival. I saw the full spectrum of life from behind that bar!

GT – If you won the Lottery, what would you do?

I would like to invest in SME’s and coach the owners by learning from my mistakes and successes.

GT – What would be your advice to someone thinking about coming into this industry?

Work in a store. Work behind a food counter. Stack the shelves. Talk to customers whilst you are there. I see too many people that have never worked at the ‘sharp end.’


Making Business Matter are a training provider to the UK grocery industry. We help suppliers to the big four supermarkets to develop the soft skills that will secure them more profitable wins.

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