Women to Watch in HTL and Retail 2024

6th March 2024
As seen in the Women to Watch in HTL and Retail 2024

I started my career with Unilever on their Graduate scheme and qualified as a CIMA accountant whilst training. The fast-moving consumer goods industry gave me a great understanding of not only how foods are manufactured but also interactions with customers, retailers, and the wider market. 

I found a natural love of Trading Finance, dealing with products, promotions, NPD and innovation. After 5 years with Unilever, I spent some time with Tate Galleries and then I was offered a position at Sainsbury's.  Firstly, back into Trading, looking after product sales and profit for the convenience stores and then quickly getting a promotion to Head of Finance, in the Store Takings Team (all till receipts and reconciliations) and then the Head of Finance supporting Operational teams.

I was also fortunate to support the Integration of Nectar into Sainsbury's and as a result of this, I was promoted to Director of Finance for - Marketing and Loyalty.

My time at Sainsbury's taught me so much ensuring we always had something new and innovative to keep interest and loyalty.

I took some time away to complete my training as a Yoga instructor before embarking on the role at Compass as the Director of Finance for Foodbuy. What an amazing company- its reach, its standing globally, but also the diverse clients and ultimately customers that we serve.

What impact have role models had on your own life and career? 

On my own journey I have recognised the power not only of coaches, mentors, allies, supportive line managers, peers but also role models. They are an incredibly important part of seeing your own path develop and the possibilities. Sometimes if you can’t see someone like you ahead in the journey it’s hard to believe it’s possible. Be the change you want to see! (that’s a great quote I have heard over the years, and what drives me to try to be a role model).

How have you seen or felt the conversation around I&D evolve during your time in the sector?

Just by me being here in Compass and in Foodbuy is ensuring the landscape is changing and the dial is being moved. – It’s the little things as well as the big things. How I encourage others to think differently about their recruitment through how we include and develop colleagues internally.

Speaking at our events I have colleagues come and talk to me afterwards i.e., they can see me, being myself and showing you don’t need to be someone else to get to this level. Here we are free to speak up and share lived experiences, which is really empowering. Our Mission to a Million commitments also aims to drive this agenda with clear targets on diversity.

What would say to someone who is considering a career in HTL/Retail?

HTL is a sector where the end customers or clients have a choice whether to stay with you or not, especially as it is highly discretionary in terms of spending - you have to work hard for customer loyalty. We need the diversity of thought leadership that being a woman brings. 

I would like to think I am of a generation where it's acceptable to be yourself, and still be compassionate, strong and have leadership skills all in one - no need to be someone else. It’s a powerful mix and if you have a passion for amazing experiences for the end customer, you are in the right industry.

What do you predict for the future of HTL/Retail?

Compass and Foodbuy are on a brilliant journey, going from strength to strength – surrounded by a passionate workforce. Although the volatility of markets around us will I think continue, which means the resilience of global supply chains will continue to evolve and compensate. There will be much more focus in all parts of the sector moving towards net zero or sustainability practices, especially here in the UK. Compass is already on this journey - and I am so glad to be a part of it!

For the full index click here