St Andrews’ Zest coffee shop and salad bar has been named Micro Employer of the Year in Skills Development Scotland’s Modern Apprentice of the Year Awards.
The award recognises Zest owner Lisa Cathro’s commitment to training for her team at the South Street coffee shop and Market Street salad bar.
“It is really exciting for us,” Lisa said, “and has come at a perfect time as we are about to start our own training company. It reinforces everything we do. The award is for everyone in the business and is just terrific.”
Lisa took over Zest six years ago and since then has had a strong focus on training - starting with herself.
“When I was starting up Zest I realised I had so much to learn and I thought the Modern Apprenticeship was a good way to do it,” said Lisa, who went to complete a Level 3 Management Modern Apprenticeship, formalising what she was already doing, building on her core skills and helping her to develop new ones.
“I thought it had worked well for me and so introduced it for Zest’s employees and we have gone from strength to strength,” she added.
Since then she has trained five Modern Apprentices and in recent years has always had an employee in training.
She has also recognised people with special needs and has made a point of employing and training them, including people from Castle Huntly Prison.
“Anything is possible if you give people the right opportunities,” she believes and added: “I am passionate about training. I have had a few bad bosses in my career and didn’t want to be like that. I feel it is so important to listen to what people want to get from their job and help them achieve that. They get opportunities and the business benefits too.”
Zest has benefited - since taking over the South Street site, Lisa has expanded into Market Street with her salad bar, and now she’s moving into training full-time.
She’s handing over the running of the two shops to existing staff members - whom she has trained - and is establishing a company to work with people with special needs to help them in to the workplace.
She will be concentrating on health and safety, food hygiene and customer service, working with the charity Springboard for whom she has already provided work placements.
“I just love working with people and helping them to develop, but training makes business sense too. Customer service training leads to happier customers and that leads to more customers. I also think that training people leads to a better and happier environment and means people are excited about coming in to work, which can only be a good thing,” Lisa explained.
Lisa regularly has coaching workshops for the staff and she and her assistant manager recently visited Holland for training - and are about to head back again.
Before then, though, there’s another awards ceremony - she has been nominated for the employer of the year award in the Scottish Union of Supported Employment (SUSE) business diversity awards. Lisa will be heading off to the awards ceremony with members of her Zest team on Thursday.