Stefan Balushev, Duty Manager, Food To Go

What year did you start working at Planet Organic?
May 2010.

What made you apply for the role?
My flatmate at the time, Ivanka, worked at Planet Organic. She is obsessed with an organic and healthy lifestyle so she suggested it might be interesting and educational for me.

What role did you start in at Planet Organic/what other roles have you done over the years?
I started part time as Team Member, Food to Go in the Muswell Hill store. After 8 months, I transferred to the Torrington Place store, full time. I worked there for 10 months before being promoted to Team Leader at Devonshire Square. I’ve been there for 3 years now and within the last year I’ve been promoted to Duty Manager.

What would you do on a typical day?
In the first 20-30 minutes of my shift I make sure that everything is set up properly for opening and everybody is in a good mood. I organise the team and myself and after that it is pretty much customer service.

What is the team like and what is it like working with your colleagues?
The people working for Planet Organic are the biggest asset of the company. I’ve worked with so many amazing people in all the shops I’ve worked in. Everybody is so knowledgeable and helpful. When I transferred to Devonshire Square I found new friends and great professionals. Working here is a great pleasure and I can’t imagine what it would be like without seeing them every day.       

How would you describe the culture at Planet?
Planet is a trend-setting company, concerned about their customers’ health and the environment. Many of our regular customers say that we are the third place to be after home and work, which tells me a lot about our service and attitude.

What type of development, training or supplier visits have you taken part in and which ones have you most enjoyed? 
That is one of the best parts of working for Planet- it gives you so many different and interesting trainings. I’ve completed all trainings including coffee training, Team Leader and Duty Manager training, as well as customer service training. I also had the pleasure of going on a farm walk and to a coffee roastery. I really loved the last two, they were both very educational and at the same time I had so much fun with the guys. I saw the other side of the process, before we get the ready product in store. Particularly good was seeing that organic farming is really what we were told – happy cows walking all day long.
How have you grown personally during your time at Planet Organic?
In the last 5 years I’ve seen quite a few changes in my personality and interests; that’s mostly thanks to my work at Planet. I became more disciplined and more interested in, and knowledgeable about, a healthy lifestyle.

What do you most enjoy about your job?
I greatly enjoy working with my team and colleagues.
What do you like most about working at Planet Organic?
The thing I probably like most about working at Planet Organic is the constant improvement I can see in my team. There are always things that could be better and having the support of my managers to do what I think is good is another great thing I love here.

How is Planet Organic different from other companies that you have worked for?
I’ve always worked for smaller companies back in my country (Bulgaria), which sometimes meant working at places that had strict rules and were not so reliable or honest. I often get feedback from colleagues about other companies and they talk nicely about Planet, particularly about the time we spend on training and educating our people. 

If you were to recruit someone into your team, what qualities would you look for?
Usually when I recruit I always look first for some relevant experience: I look for customer service; barista experience; food service; team players and quick learners. The most difficult part in my opinion is to find people who fit well into the team personality-wise – I look at how they get along with different characters and see if the team would be balanced.

If you could describe in one word what it is like to work at Planet Organic, what would it be?