Conscious Kitchen is an organization that generally hosts weekly meals, here in The Hague. Their aim is to connect people from all backgrounds and share positive vibes. We got the opportunity to sit down with Anubhav Kandpal, one of Conscious Kitchen’s managerial staff members, and asked him all about his views on life and leadership.
(Kandpal, July 2019)
Let’s get to know you a bit better! Can you tell us more about your background?
I grew up all over India. My father had a high up job for a bank, which involved a lot of moving around. I had gone to many schools in a lot of different states. 5 years was about the shelf life of a place. At the time it was challenging, but in hindsight, I learned a lot from these experiences. For example, I learned to respect people who come from different cultures, beliefs, and backgrounds. This was especially helpful for me when I began my professional life.
What kind of work did you do before working at Conscious Kitchen?
I was an engineer and I specialized in supply chain management. I also lived and worked in Ireland as an English teacher. Initially, I moved to Amsterdam to teach academic English at their university. After that, I began working as a purchaser for an aerospace company in The Hague. Although I am grateful for having had these opportunities, I realized I wanted to be more involved in society and contribute in a more meaningful way. This is when I co-founded Conscious Kitchen. It’s now been about four years since I started.
What was it like to start working at Conscious Kitchen in The Hague?
I was initially just looking for friends and connections. In addition to this, I also love cooking and sharing food, so the concept seemed like a golden opportunity. As I was working in the kitchen, I became more and more involved with growing the organization’s success. And now, I’m happy to say that we have gained a lot more social interest and popularity.
What pushed you to take on a managerial role?
In the early phases of Conscious Kitchen, I felt it provided me with something meaningful, something I wanted to share. I began to show a lot of initiative, to take a lot of responsibility, and really tried to help lift the organization off the ground. People took notice of my efforts and began to view me as a leader. In addition to this, my father also gave me the advice to adapt to this new role, which really helped.
After almost four years of working in a growing organization, do you have any tips for people who are just beginning work at a startup?
Get a good accountant. You tend to be so focused on setting up everything else, you might lose track of the numbers. If it’s a business in the Netherlands, be sure to understand the format of your business. For example, is it a Stichting, or a Vereniging? Knowing details like this can help you figure out which forms and taxes apply to you. It would also be helpful to have a kind of social contract within the startup between you and your employees, to create a business culture. Most important of all, be sure to remain innovative. The world is ever-changing, so try to keep up, take risks, and make sure your business changes and grows with it.
(Conscious Kitchen team June,2019)
Currently, the COVID19 crisis is keeping Conscious Kitchen from opening its doors. What has it been like to be in a senior position during this time?
Well, to be completely honest, it was difficult for us to operate in this situation at all. Our organisation is all about bringing people together, which we are simply not allowed to do right now. This caused us to have to rethink our internal structures, and for a lot of people to step up, take more initiative, and take on new roles. Throughout this process, a lot of hard conversations needed to be had. As a manager, I had to take a few steps back and allow for this new structure and these new roles to develop. Although the uncertainty of these times is terrifying, these changes and signs of innovation are invigorating and we are excited to see what these changes will bring us in the future.
Were there some personal challenges you faced as a person in a senior position?
Often people project their ideas onto the leader of a group. When people find out that their expectations are wrong, it can lead to resentment towards the leader. Not only that, I noticed that I began to create these own beliefs about my position as well, which ultimately led to me letting myself down. Upon figuring this out, I always try to reassure my coworkers, as well as myself, that I’m just a perfectly imperfect human. In addition to this, I noticed there was a change in how I value things such as money. I noticed how I began viewing it more and more as a tool in an economical transaction, rather than considering it a tool to make me happy. In short: I had to break through a lot of beliefs on power and money and learn more about the natural flow of things.
What is your vision for Conscious Kitchen?
Hopefully for us to have a lot more growth and popularity, without becoming too corporate.
(Kandpal October, 2018)