Name: Louisa Dodd
Job title: Sustainability manager
Company & location: Little Moons, London: between our factory in Park Royal and our commercial head office in Farringdon
Education: University of Sussex for Geography
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? My first proper work experience was at Boden Clothing, a two-week work placement in year 10. I grew up near the head office in Acton and was interested in fashion at the time, it was an incredible first insight into what adults do ‘at work’.
I stumbled across two women running a department called ‘ethical trading’. They were both geography graduates who were deeply passionate about workers rights and factory conditions, and crucially as a 15-year-old, they were also incredibly cool.
It showed me that you can be part of the consumption economy but work for a business with strong sustainable values. I passed a note to my mum whilst in a talk at a fashion university open day a few weeks later which said, “I want to be a well-dressed geographer”, and we left the seminar.
Why did you decide to go for a career in food & drink? It became clear during my undergraduate that food was at the centre of most global social and environmental challenges. I focused my degree on the food system and wrote my thesis on sustainable diets. I sent an overly enthusiastic email to some of the food brands in my kitchen and stepped into an internship at Propercorn.
Explain your job to us in a sentence (or two): To strengthen how Little Moons intersects with people and planet, in a way that brings our total team along the journey.
Our sustainability strategy has three pillars: little footprint, growth with integrity, and positive sourcing. Alongside our innovation & sustainability director, Emma Love, I am responsible for driving this through the business.
“Raymond Blanc once made me eat compost from his garden at Le Manoir, which was pretty disgusting but I’m sure very nutritious as freebies go”
What does a typical day look like for you? As any sustainability manager will tell you, you have to know ‘enough’, about ‘a lot’. This morning I’ve quizzed a new waste contractor about their waste disposal, plugged away at a draft of our responsible sourcing strategy, collaborated with supply chain on a new sustainable outbound logistics policy, and asked our engineers to collect some water data for the factory. Lots of our workstreams feed into evidence for our B Corp certification, which we’re aiming to submit this year.
The role is super cross-functional. We want to ensure knowledge and responsibility isn’t siloed into one department, so we’re running tonnes of training and engagement to bring the whole team on our journey.
Tell us how you went about applying for your job: I was approached by my now manager, who I’d previously worked with at Propercorn (now Warp Snacks). I’d been at the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) for nearly five years, which provided the most envious work opportunities for someone in their early twenties.
The hardest question I had to face during the interview was “why do you want to leave your current job”, and whilst it was a tough decision, I knew I was ready to see a different side to the food industry.
What’s the best part about working for a food & drink company? Twenty-five per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions come from the food system. Eighty-five per cent of species extinction is driven by agriculture, 800 million people are malnourished, a third of all food goes to waste.
Little Moons might just be one business, but we have the ability to influence a lot of suppliers, customers, and our own workforce along our sustainability journey. That impact can ladder into something epic.
And what’s the biggest misconception people have about working in food & drink? The most common question I’d get at the Sustainable Restaurant Association was around free food. People assumed by working with hospitality, the free meals would be flowing, but well-sourced food costs money!
Name drop incoming… Raymond Blanc once made me eat compost from his garden at Le Manoir, which was pretty disgusting but I’m sure very nutritious as freebies go.
What advice would you give to other young people looking to get into the food & drink industry? Firstly, a piece of advice I learnt from Juliane Caillouette Noble, the managing director of the SRA: work out what skills you possess before deciding the brand or restaurant you want to work for. Lots of people want to work for renowned businesses without knowing their part of that jigsaw.
Secondly, if you land an internship, try to make yourself seem like one of the permanent team. It gives you a more real experience, and in multiple circumstances for me, meant the employer can see if you’d fit in long term.
And finally, be bold in asking for what you want. The worst that will happen is they’ll say no and you won’t regret asking.
What’s your ultimate career dream? There’s a massive disconnect in the UK between ‘consumers’ and ‘farmers’. We all need to get reacquainted with growing our own food, myself included.
Agriculture is the hotbed of many sustainability challenges; soil health, biodiversity loss, modern slavery, an ageing industry. It’s the part of my job that gets me most excited; connecting with farmers and supporting the right kind of agriculture. So, I’m not sure where my ‘career’ will go, but I certainly intend to have muddier hands.