Michi Kanatschnig is McQueens Operations Manager, charged with the responsibility of keeping the McQueens house in order. With over 40 staff and green fingers in every area of contemporary flower design in the UK and abroad, this is no short order. Given the nature of our job, all kinds of interesting and varied commissions can land at our feet at any given moment, so someone needs to calculate the logistics to fulfil that brief – and that’s Michi! She’ll sort out how many florists and vans are needed to complete any given job, and she’ll also work out the length of time needed too. An operations manager needs to have the persuasive power to knit florists, drivers and sometimes flowers out of thin air and to have the patience of a saint. Apart from being a kick-ass-trouble shooter by day, Michi is our resident go-to person for botanical knowledge and shares her passion for flower with a real love of gardening. We spoke to Michi about her passions and the demands of her role.
How did you start your career in flowers?
I was born in Austria and brought up in the most idyllic countryside. I was always hanging out in the garden and got the love of flowers from my mother and grandmother, who were equally obsessed. I was always exploring the outside and leaning about new flower and plant varieties and even though my other passion is history and archeology, I decided to pursue my career in flowers and I did a three year apprenticeship at one of Austria’s top florists. When I came to the UK for a holiday 15 years ago, a friend asked me to help on a flower job. Things started from there, and I just fell in love with London. When I was offered a job, it was an easy decision to move. I worked for a variety of florists in London before making McQueens my home about 5 years ago. I love living in the UK.
How do you describe your personal style?
I love a natural, unfussy style and what I love most is colour – the more, the merrier! Flowers for me are about celebration and happiness and if I choose flowers for myself I will always choose lots of colour.
What does your job entail?
My job as an operations manager at McQueens is always interesting. I am part secretary, nurse, logistics manager and magician. I love the variety that this job offers me. Compiling rota and liaising with managers is a big part of what I do. As a florist myself, it’s important that I don’t lose touch with flowers altogether, so I often help out in other departments to help keep things running smoothly. We have a very talented team of florists from all over the world and I am very proud to be part of such an inspiring group of people.
What is the most challenging thing about your job?
The logistics of getting from A – B in such a busy city like London can be a real challenge. Solving problems that are out of your control is always challenging. We don’t get them very often, but a heatwave for florists, especially for contract work is a real challenge!
What do you love most about your job?
Recruitment is a big part of my job. I will be the first point of contact for most people applying for a job at McQueens. I love seeing the progression of staff members that I have interviewed as their careers progress through the departments at McQueens.
What’s your idea of flower heaven?
The giving of flowers is all about the thought behind the process, and a tiny flower picked from the roadside will be just as appreciated for me as a huge bouquet. I am not a fan of heavily scented flower such as lilies, but delicately scented flowers will always be gratefully received.
What has been your career highlight?
I have been lucky to enjoy many special moments working with flowers and getting a heartfelt reaction to your work from clients is always very satisfying. Travelling to San Francisco to create flowers for The Breakthrough Prize in California was a wonderful and exciting opportunity, and one that I will always remember.
What do you do like to do in your spare time?
The UK has the most amazing public gardens, and I love visiting historical country gardens in my spare time – they are amongst the best in the world!