A Decade of Growth and Gratitude: Celebrating ten years working in Salad & Passenger
Ten years ago, on September 11 and 13, 2013, I didn’t know then that I was embarking on two extraordinary journeys that would become intrinsic parts of my life. As I celebrate my first decade of working in these two great businesses; Salad and Passenger, I reflect on the remarkable experiences, growth, and profound gratitude I have from this chapter of my professional career.
Salad: A formidable partnership and an exciting new role
I started working at Salad as its first Finance Director, and after just over a year, I became an employee, bought in as a shareholder and joined the Board of Directors alongside Founder and MD; Arabella Lewis-Smith. Since then, Bella and I have shared great challenges, change, growth, disappointment, joy, laughter, tears … I guess all the things one expects from people who care about the business they’re leading. It’s been such a privilege working with someone who’s as expert and dedicated as Bella. Our skills (and dare I say our respective weaknesses) complement each other and through all those great highs and lows together has formed a great friendship.
Above; Bella and Andy in Madrid, Salad's 2017 Christmas party
One of the most pivotal moments in Salad's history occurred in April 2021 when we completed a project that had been two years in the planning; to sell the company to its employees through an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT). This move has proven to be far more than a capital transaction; it’s become a declaration of trust and empowerment in our dedicated team. Since then, Salad has strengthened, propelled by the shared sense of ownership and commitment among the employee team.
Above; Salad's 18th anniversary party in 2019, from the left; Bella, Andy, Colin Cather, Heather Brown, Natasha Hill and James Ray.
Another personal milestone is just round the corner as I have started to transition away from my role as Finance Director, into a new role for me and for Salad as Chairman of the Board of Directors.
Passenger: A pivot that changed everything
The second journey started in a digital agency called Base. Founded by Tom Quay, Base created technical solutions for a range of customers and markets including retail, charity, and transport. Working with our then Non-Executive Director, Chris Thurling, we set some wildly unachievable ambitions (“50-in-5” comes to mind), but fairly early on we decided to go 'all-in’ on the transport tech solution we had developed and which was becoming increasingly sought after by bus operators. With encouragement from some key early customers, we dedicated a large proportion of our internal time developing a tech product suite for the UK bus industry; “Passenger”.
Above, Tom Quay (right) with Chris Thurling (middle). Also featured James Ray (left) - at 3D FD's 2018 summer party
One of my most proud work achievements to date has been our successful transition from a digital agency to a product company. During this transition, we contended with maintaining revenues, managing cash flow, and controlling costs in two different business models. Importantly, we managed to achieve the transition without compromising our strong cultural values, and we now have a financial position and clear purpose which are stronger than ever. It’s been a privilege to witness Tom balance maintaining our focus on creating world class technology whilst caring about how we do that; how we ensure we treat people well.
Transitioning from an agency to a tech product business was a strategic move that has solidified Passenger's position as an industry leader, and I’m proud to have played a small part in its success.
Above; Meetball Beach Soccer event in July 2015, Tom Quay (2nd from left) and Andy Brown (2nd from right). Also featuring Chris Matthews, Chris Sherry, Andrew Milsom, Matt Abreu.
A Decade of Gratitude
As I celebrate a decade of working in both Salad and Passenger, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Ten years is not just a milestone; it's a testament to the enduring relationships, the trials and triumphs, and the incredible growth I have personally experienced. I’ve worked with so many full-hearted, expertly skilled and generous spirited people in those ten years; too many to list them all, but I will save these thanks for Bella and Tom, who each respectively took a punt on working with me, and both have become dear friends.