I'm Irish and started my career as a graduate trainee for CMP Dairy where I worked in the marketing department for three years, progressing to brand manager and also heading up a team of demonstrators. However, having studied French and German at university, I was keen to work in export. So, I moved to England to take the role of export product manager at Twinings. I was there six years before going to RHM for a year and working on exports to France and Belgium, followed by United Biscuits, where I managed the company's southern European markets. Four years ago I left the business to join Cafédirect.
Tell us a bit about Cafédirect.
Cafédirect is 15 years old this year. It was established in 1991 and is now the UK's largest Fairtrade hot drinks company. When I joined sales were £11m but have now grown to £26m. We buy from 33 producer organisations in 11 countries and always make sure that the farmers get a fair price. Our brands, Cafédirect, 5065, Teadirect and Cocodirect, are sold at a range of stores - from major supermarkets through to independent retailers.
What has been keeping you busy lately?
I've been working on a lot of new product development. We are planning launches after Christmas and before Fairtrade Fortnight, which runs from 26 February to 11 March next year. We are also working on a new way of communicating the unique selling point of Cafédirect to consumers. People know what Fairtrade is but often don't understand the detail - that Cafédirect is so much more than Fairtrade with 86% of our profit being returned to farmers, for example. We want to continue to drive awareness of Cafédirect at retailer and consumer level. We're also planning a huge promotional calendar for Fairtrade Fortnight and will be listing new products in the trade, as well as supporting the brand with promotions.
What is your working week like?
Busy! Every week is completely different. There are always a lot of meetings, which involve communication between our marketing, sales and operations departments. I also gather feedback from the sales team and liaise between customers and other departments so that the sales team have all the tools that they need. It really is a privilege to be part of Cafédirect. It's such a fantastic brand with a unique business model. At the end of the day, everyone - from grower to drinker - wins.