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Meet the Board: Emma Porter and Graham Booth

Meet the Board: Emma Porter and Graham Booth Emma Porter and Graham Booth

Over the coming months we’ll be sharing a Q&A with each of our Board members, to help you get to know them better and to learn what makes them ‘tick’. This month we’re introducing you to Emma Porter, Managing Director at Story Contracting, as well as Graham Booth, Board Director at E H Booth & Co Ltd.

Who was the biggest influence on your career?
Graham: The founder of our company Edwin Henry Booth (1828-1899). He was the archetypal self-made man who cared deeply about those less fortunate than himself.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Graham: A mechanical engineer.

Emma: A vet but I’m not great at the sight of blood. I fainted once during a puppy getting stitches at the Vet practice I had a Sat job at. Gave up on being a vet after that.

What was your first starting salary?
Graham: £9 per week working part time in my local Booths store filling shelves.

Emma: I’d done lots of summer jobs in the family business growing up but my first proper job was as a waitress at Vallum House Hotel in Carlisle. I was initially paid £3.20 per hour but got a pay rise to £3.40 once I was made Head Waitress.

If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be?
Graham: I’d like to see it populated with colourful, inspiring regional independents rather than being dominated by a handful of large PLCs.

Emma: Procurement and the way works are tendered can kill true collaboration and destroy value. If we could get good collaborative behaviours in at procurement and in to contracts properly then improvements in innovation, productivity, value for money and diversity would all follow.

Which achievement are you most proud of in relation to your career/working life?
Graham: Introducing centralised buying for Booths fresh produce back in 1988. From the very start we made a point of sourcing from local farms wherever we could whilst our competitors were moving in the opposite direction!

Emma: Very proud of the culture and team ethos we have in the construction division in Story at the moment. I’m proud of loads of our actual projects – I can’t drive past a bridge, building or structure that we have built without feeling a sense of pride and I did my MBA at one of the best business schools in the world so I’m very proud of that too.

Which single piece of career advice would you give your teenage self?
Graham: Stop thinking that it’s all about you. Collaborative working is more effective and way more satisfying.

Emma: Speak up.

Which four people, from any era, would you invite to a dinner party?
Graham: I can’t make up my mind. There’s a lot to choose from isn’t there?

Emma: Catherine of Aragon, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jacinda Ardern and Elaine Morgan.

Which historical figure do you find most impressive and why?
Graham: See above (but Ferdinand Porsche must be in with a shout).

Emma: Catherine of Aragon I think was an incredible woman. She led an army that she raised from nowhere and rode across England and won whilst heavily pregnant when Henry had taken all the trained soldiers to France and left her as Queen Regent.

What was the first piece of music you remember buying?
Graham: Candle in the Wind by Elton John.

Emma: Girls Just Want to Have Fun by Cindy Lauper from Our Price in Carlisle when I was about 13.

What is your favourite book and why?
Graham: Any historical non-fiction with a strong narrative. I’ve just finished Ben Macintyre’s “The Spy and the Traitor” which I enjoyed.

Emma: Oh I love books. I’d choose a book over a film any day. You just get so absorbed and invested in the story and they’re the closest you can get to ever seeing things from a different perspective. I can’t pick one favourite but some books I have really loved and want to read again are A Thousand Splendid Suns, The Poisonwood Bible, A Little Love Song, The Northern Lights Trilogy, Phillipa Gregory’s novels, Wuthering Heights, The Princess Bride and loads more. I’m also enjoying reading the Harry Potter books again with my kids at the moment.

What was the first car that you owned?
Graham: Peugeot 104.

Emma: My mum’s old Peugeot 306, I drove all round Europe in it during my gap year and slept in the back.

Favourite holiday destination?
Graham: North West Scotland.

Emma: I love travel and particularly loved Morocco, Sri Lanka, India, Namibia, Mozambique and Oman. I like an adventurous holiday. But North Berwick in Scotland is my favourite. We went there every year for our family holiday growing up and I take my children there now.

Favourite holiday memory?
Graham: On the first of many family holidays to the Isle of Tiree watching our children running into the sea fully clothed and the local kids showing them how to empty out their wellies without taking them off!

What’s top of your bucket list?
Graham: Haven’t got one.

Emma: I’d like to go in a hot air balloon one day. And go to Machu Pichu. And travel more.

Which single piece of advice for a happy life would you give your teenage self?
Graham: Be true to yourself.

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