June 19, 2024 / 1:28:55

Episode Description

In our third episode this series the focus is all about the future of the workplace. I was delighted to chat with Julia Darvill, Regional Director at Puratos and Louisa Hogarty, Group HR Director at Noble Foods.

Julia is an experienced leader who cares a lot about legacy and the impact this will have on those in the workplace. Having worked within the drinks industry at organisations such as Molson Coors and Britvic, Julia then went on to join Puratos in 2015. She is now the Regional Director for UK & Ireland, setting their vision and strategic direction in the ever-competitive and evolving bakery ingredients arena.

Louisa is a proven and experienced HR leader who has a keen eye on the future workplace. Her track record since graduating from University in 2006 includes working with SSP, Rail Gourmet, GU Puds, G4S, Wyevale Garden Centres and for the past 7 years as Group HRD with the Family owned, Noble Foods.

In this episode, we delve into how the workplace is changing giving our best insights into what the future workplace will look like, feel like and importantly what employees will truly value in the future. Through the conversation we discuss many topics including the skills people need to support their changing careers moving forwards especially with the rise of the “green collar worker”. We recap on how the pandemic changed our routines and what we value – and how this is shifting again now as we embrace advancements like AI as part of our future.

We also focus on the growing importance of sustainability and how this is impacting roles and objectives across organisations, as well as why it is important to build neurodiverse teams and change the conversation and culture around hiring for neurodiversity in organisations.

I hope you like this epsiode and, as ever, if you’d like to get in touch for any reason you can reach me at Jonathan.ohagan@leaderexecutivesearch.com


Episode Transcript

Jonathan  O’Hagan  00:33

Hello, and welcome to the leader insight series podcast. This is the platform designed to uncover the secrets to both career and business success gaining real insight from inspirational figures across the food and drink industry. As a reminder, I’m your host, Jonathan O’Hagan and you’ve joined us for episode 3 of the series titled, “Let’s talk the future workplace.”



Now, the future workplace, it’s a fascinating topic. Whether you believe it or not, the future of work is coming. For some, it’s already here, it can be a bright future, a future that can improve our well-being and the well-being of the planet. So whilst automation and AI can sound quite scary at times, I think with careful regulation and policies that promote inclusion and equal opportunities, there are ways it can make our working lives happier, more effective, more human.



Now to talk about the future workplace, I’ve invited 2 people that I respect hugely, 2 people that every time I have conversations with, you just get a real sense that they’re thinking about this every single day in their respective environments.



Now, first of all, we have Julia Darvill. Julia is a regional director for UK & Ireland for Puratos. Julia has been on the show before and as you’re here, you just get a real sense that she’s really focused on the future of the workplace and what things she can do now. She talks a lot about legacy and her impact which I think is just amazing. So Julia offers a huge amount of value through this discussion.




Our other guest is Louisa Hogarty. Now, Louisa again has been on the podcast in series 1. Louisa as a reminder is the group HR director for Noble Foods. Louisa is fantastic. Again, our job is focus completely around employee well-being, employee engagement, creating the right environment for Noble Foods. They’ve been in existence for over 100 years. Her job fundamentally is about making sure the business is thriving in another 100 years. So Louisa, you can tell really cares about this stuff and both of them come up with some amazing thought provoking content. We cover a lot of ground, we talk about everything from what they envision the future workplace to look like. We talk about how people will go about recruiting and building teams. We talked about how they personally in their respective businesses have adapted post pandemic and how it may adapt further still, we talk about flexible working conditions, talk about the rise of the green collar worker. We importantly talk about leadership in the future, and actually what skills and traits are going to make the best leaders of tomorrow and then finally, we talk about some really interesting topics like neuro diversity, social mobility, and how people are managing their careers differently and how they will manage them differently in the future.



So I hope this episode creates a lot of value for people. It’s very thought provoking and you’re hearing from 2 experts that are thinking about this stuff every single day.



As always, subscribe to the podcast if you’ve not done so already and you’ll get notified of all future episodes. We’ve got some great guests covering some really interesting topics planned for this series. So stay tuned, as they say and here we go. This is, “Let’s talk the future workplace.” I hope you enjoy.





Jonathan  O’Hagan  04:03

Louisa, Jules, lovely to have you on. Great to see you. Welcome to “Let’s Talk the future workplace.” So the first question, have you brought your crystal balls with you?


Louisa Hogarty  04:15

Pretty much. Absolutely.


Jonathan  O’Hagan  04:17

It’s going to be a bit like that, isn’t it? Yes, we better caveat the conversation by saying, yes, it’s an educated guest, isn’t it the future workplace? But it’s a fascinating one and separately, we’ve both had, I think really interesting conversations about the future, what we’re working towards, hence why I thought it’d be lovely to have this roundtable discussion all about the future workplace. So Jules, maybe if I come to you first to kick things off from a zooming out perspective, what things do you envision, when we think of the future workplace?


Julia Darvill  04:50

It’s a difficult one because you’ve got to make sure that you’re blending what’s in your existing workforce with what you think will come from the next generations and I think I get lost in what Millennials versus Gen Z’s versus Alphas will be and I’m a mother of 2 Alphas. So I’ve got to consider what will Millie and Zara, for example, want in the future and that’s 15 years away. I think we’re going to need more time, more trust, and more transparency in the workplace and that comes into things like transparency will mean, we want to see, I think employees will want to see more trust, gender pay gap discussions have been going for years and years and years, but they want to have huge amounts of transparency on things like that. Same on how employers start to brand themselves, how authentic those will be. There’s an awful lot of noise and even green washing around and we’ll come on to that and there in a little bit.



So transparency is really important and time will be about flexibility and agility. A lot of people having come out of the pandemic have talked about things like it’s an absolute must to have flexibility and agility but that comes also with a double-edged sword on how do we make sure the workforce is productive and maintaining that. I think that trifecta of trust, transparency, and time, for me is like the Holy Grail of making sure an employer has all of those things and measures them as well. Making sure that that’s a big foundation for how we measure success because most of my metrics, I don’t know about you lose. Most of my metrics at the moment are commercial but I just– We don’t have enough to really look at how happy and healthier workforce is yet.


Jonathan  O’Hagan  06:33

It’s really interesting you use that phrase, how we measure success, because it’s the people joining the workforce now that are going to shape the future workforce and I think their measure of success is going to be very different to ours. Louisa, is there anything you’d add to that in terms of the big zoom out picture of, you know, what you envisage the future workplace to be?


Louisa Hogarty  06:55

I totally agree with Jules’ points and I think for us just on that measuring piece, and listening, really listening to what our employees are telling us, what they want. They often have a number of the answers but going back to your question, then zooming out, I thought about it slightly differently when I thought about that question, and thought around, what does the future workplace look like with the birth of AI and how we’re going to be in my view? Very much more focused on innovation, the workplace is going to move far more quickly and the future is all around how humans and technology can work in in harmony and in partnership. So going away from that data capture and reporting to doing stuff with data and therefore the pace and the innovation is going to really step up a notch and when you’re looking then at the skills that you need going forward, it’s less around some of those more traditional skills and that curiosity muscle is going to need to be far stronger than it is today.


Jonathan  O’Hagan  08:06

AI is a really good point. Have you guys done much around? I’m sure you have, butt are you immersing yourself in AI and trying to prepare as much? Yes, I was on a webinar just last week and I’m immersing myself in it but the– Probably the overarching thing is the speed. The speed at which this is going to become integrated in our lives and that’s the slightly scary thing. It’s the speed at which we adopt it and like you say, Louisa, they’re adopting the skills or reskilling people. That’s the interesting thing. I think I read somewhere 40% of our core skills will change because of AI so it’s how we adapt to that but Louisa, AI is for another time, it’s another conversation altogether but a fascinating one, nonetheless. So Jules, coming back to you narrowing down a little bit, what do you think is going to be really important for this, call it the next generation, but to people in the future, what’s going to be really important for them to have when we think about their working lives?


Julia Darvill  09:06

I’m going to call out the word that Louisa used very actively there, which is listening. I think the next generation are going to want learning organizations, they’re going to want an entirely holistic approach. If I think about what turns on or the zeitgeist that our children and that Gen Alphas are growing up with around them and all of your listeners will either have somebody in their lives that this directly either their children or all that they know in their circles. If you look and watch what those little humans are taking on board, and indeed what they’ll need, they’re very different than the things that are normalized for our generation and the generations we still have in our organization and I think any organization is going to really future proof by looking and observing a more holistic approach. That means a package for example is as much about how flexible and agile you are, how much investment you put in to the person and that could not just be commercial benefits.



I read somewhere that Gallup said that in 2020, it had been full circle on the top 3 components that mean people choose why they choose to work for something and in the top 3, usually you have package and we normally talk about package encompassing your base salary but actually, that’s number 3 out of the top 3. Whereas, 30 years ago and how I was raised was a very different framework of ambition, my parents postwar generation. So if we think then to the future about what our children are going to need or our children’s children are going to need, they’re going to need something that makes sure that people look after their bodies and their minds is part of the package just as much as how much they’re going to take home each day and then similarly, have they got enough time to be able to do the things that fuel them and that comes back to flexibility, I guess, and working time directives.


Louisa Hogarty  10:57

I totally agree. I think it’s that whole shift that we’ve seen, specifically, since COVID, which has been you no longer live to work, you’re absolutely working to live and the younger generation are never going to settle for anything but that and I was reflecting on the fact that they don’t just have 1 job but they have multiple interests with the birth of side hustles or influences and everything else that I can’t pretend I understand but we do have this multi-job ethic that’s coming up in the younger population, the fact that their health is a priority. So if they don’t have time to go to the gym and do the things that are important to their well-being that will impact their choices and the one that also is coming through loud and clear to us but some of the people are speaking about to is the impact you are having on the environment. They’re not going to stand for a company that’s green washing. They want to see real, actionable items that are companies doing to look after the planet and the engagement that you can get behind that is is amazing. So I think for their well-being, the planet’s well-being and it pays important but now it’s a hygiene factor.


Julia Darvill  12:22

Absolutely. You look at groups like wild farmed as a regenerative farm platform and groups like you’ve seen this morning, they’ve announced the latest royal households, along with Fortnum and you’ve got Waitrose partnering and a large part of that is how green their credentials and how sustainable their attitudes to things are and they have the most incredible brand equity as an employer as a result of that and the next generation will think that’s a foundation based minimum, which we take as something we think is almost sparkly and new and innovative but you’re absolutely right. Louisa is right. This is the bare minimum expectation.


Louisa Hogarty  12:58

And the rise of the B Corp.


Julia Darvill  12:59



Jonathan  O’Hagan  13:00

In the pursuit of recruiting and retaining the best talent, which obviously has a direct influence on the bottom line, it’s fundamental. Isn’t it? Where as business leaders, where do you think we are in terms of progress made? Because ultimately, there’s shareholders to please there’s profits to be made and all this stuff is really important but where do you think we are in terms of attitudes and perceptions shifting to actually invest some time in this stuff that may in terms of ROI, maybe a few years down the road? Jules, what’s your experience? You work for pure artists, as I mentioned in the intro there, so a big industrial bakery business that is there to make profit, ultimately. So where are we in terms of progress?


Julia Darvill  13:45

I think we still have a long way to go and I guess it would be unfair for me to speak on the whole of British manufacturing but with an operational bias where we’re still not as involved in automation, where we’re using digital to make what, workers lives better. I think we have a long way to go but it starts with how we measure success and we talked about that before and we were having a chat before we went on it.



It’s really important that the foundation of everybody’s strategy, which then translates into your dashboard, or how you measure your success has to start with people and I work with a number of organizations through coaching ne2rks where I sit in boardrooms with C suite members and everybody talks about their people strategy as if it’s a bolt on, which always frustrates me because that then directly translates into how we do or do not yet measure the components that we’ve just discussed, that we believe are future proof and I think how you measure something like somebody’s productivity? Of course, there will be a commercial attachment to that but it’s slightly more nuance and it’s the same as marketing.



So when you sit in a room for marketers, and they say, we’ve done this digital campaign. You say, can you directly attribute that above the line advertising to somebody’s consumption? They’ll say, not sure. We’re going to have to take a pinch of salt and try a few things and I think we’re evolving that now but we have a long way to go until we’re comfortable measuring output of some of these initiatives. I think the NHS is– We’re very privileged in the UK and I believe to have the healthcare system that we do but obviously, I’m part of a global organization and there’s 91 countries, and they have different attitudes.



In some of our nations within Puratos group, already, there are initiatives, very advanced ones like in the Nordics, where there are government sponsored initiatives, where there is a share of the wealth on some of these investments. So it’s already sponsored that, for example, we talked about health, somebody will be promoting the health of the workers, they will be then getting tax benefits from that. So that translates into commercial benefits for things and I think we will see more and more of that in the next 5 to 10 years, where we’ll start to frame things that in our retirement age is all of us on this discussion panel will probably stay that’s part of our legacy that change. So I think we’ve still got a long way to go.



Jonathan  O’Hagan  16:01

And Louisa in a role like yours, how important is it to create space to think about this stuff? What percentage of your time, for example, do you spend on helping a business like Noble work towards the future?


Louisa Hogarty  16:14

The answer is probably not long enough or not enough time but we’re really lucky to be a family owned business which affords us some time and it also affords us to experiment and try things because we have a smaller shareholder group and they have a very long term outlook. So we’re over 100 years in business with that comes a lot of heritage and legacy, which is wonderful. It also means change is not always going to be that fast and we also have agricultural roots and that’s often quite traditional.



So when we talk about the future of work, we have to remember we can only go as fast as some of our parts of our business can go but in terms of how we do business, we are on a B Corp journey. It’s not easy, the size of our business in over 100 years old to achieve that, but we’ve made really good progress and we are going through that journey because we believe it’s a really solid framework to prove that we’re delivering against our purpose and our purpose, better nourish people, animals, and planet is absolutely what we’re setting out to achieve. So I think whilst we don’t probably spend enough time today, thinking about the post 5 or 10 years, what we are doing is pushing forward every single day on that B Corp journey to work better, to do the right things on the environment, to maybe experiment on a couple of things that we can do differently and at the heart of all of that is our people journey and our culture.



So everything that we’re doing is how we’re creating the leaders for tomorrow and those leaders are going to be very different in some of those leadership behaviors and qualities than we would have had 15, 20 years ago. So a lot of investment, probably more in skills and in systems and processes that hopefully take us in the right direction, but probably not so blue sky 20, 30 years out at this moment in time.


Jonathan  O’Hagan  18:19

And I did see about your future leaders program pop up on LinkedIn–


Louisa Hogarty  18:23




Jonathan  O’Hagan  18:23

The other day, which looks fascinating and I think we’ll talk a bit about leadership and the skills that we will need in the future. Jules, how far ahead can we think about this stuff? And conversations we’ve had, it’s quite a long way, isn’t it? But realistically, as a business leader, how far ahead can we think? Is it 2, 3, 5, 10 years? How many years realistically can we start taking action for?


Julia Darvill  18:50

I think that’s a great question because I think you can do both. You can have the 5 year outlook which is intrinsically part of your delivery and something you always want to engage your teams and communicate and bring them on that journey as part of your purpose or your mission but I think it’s essential that you have a more broader view, that’s no different when we consider people. For me, it’s no less important or more than when you think about your marketplace you’re trading in. We’re all thinking about what is changing about in 30 years time in supply chain, for example. We’re thinking about, I mentioned regenerative farming. We’re thinking about what will the cacao price be and what would the evolution of sustainability of supply? So if we’re thinking about things like that, in 30 years forecasting, for me, there’s same type of data crunching as Louisa rightly said, the same type of working in parallel with AI to understand things.



There’s an awful lot of data out there that we can start to watch how we evolve as people. We know things like our behavioral changes will advance, we had a nice little insight and I would say that’s probably what it was. As painful it was the pandemic gave us almost like a fast track and little petri dish to understand how we behave in certain situations. We’re growing up at the moment in around us with war in many countries and in the regions that I work in, for example, so I think we’ve got a lot to learn from and this comes back to Louisa’s vital point around listening and actively listening business should be documenting and observing in the people space, how us as humans, how do we ne2rk differently? How do we move?



And I will talk about social mobility shortly but there are some macro trends that we should be looking at, they should be in boardroom discussions regularly for me, and those should be 30 year forecast. Obviously, in the Food Innovation industry, we think about what will obesity be in 30 to 50 years, we look at World Health Organization metrics. We should be looking at the same thing for how people what we think people’s needs will be and then start with those in mind and start shaping what as organizations can we start evolving day by day, step by step as we said, Rome was not conquered in a day, but we should always have in mind that future view.



Jonathan  O’Hagan  20:59

And like you say Louisa, Noble with 100 years of history behind it. Actually, yes, you should be thinking well, yes and another 100 years, the business still wants to be there, profitable, etc, etc. So what are the things you can be doing now, that will affect not just our children, but our children’s children?


Louisa Hogarty  21:16

Absolutely. We talk about future generations, we talk about the next 100 years and we know that the next 100 years, they’ve not going to look anything like the prior. We know it’s going to be different. We don’t know the answers to all of the hows it’s going to be different yet but one thing for sure, it will be different.


Jonathan  O’Hagan  21:35

Interesting. Let’s pause for part 1, guys some really interesting stuff there. We’ll be back in 2 seconds.



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Welcome back. This is part 2. As a reminder, this is, “Let’s talk the future workplace.” I’m joined by Julia Darville from Puratos and Louisa Hogarty from Noble Foods. I think the next thing I wanted to pick your brains on, the both of you really is, through all my research and conversations I’ve had about the future workplace is the demand on talent is only going to get even more competitive, really. So I guess as we think about the future workplace and how competitive is to bring in the right talent, what’s your thoughts on how we might go about recruiting people, how we might utilize teams, form teams? Yes, Jules, have you thought much about how we go about recruiting, will it be different? Because I guess the need to recruit the people with the right skills for the future is going to be vital, isn’t it?


Julia Darvill  24:17

It is but I think we’re going to have to evolve again how we do that and the large part of that is because at the moment, people are missing out on opportunities and I’m certain of this with my own experience of Puratos. We have a very high propensity to look at degree level educated for certain roles, for example, but long gone are the days where people are qualified by experience. I think that’s going to go full circle and the diversification of someone’s skill set will make them more attractive. So if you think about the systems or the way in which we analyze somebody to come on board in an organization, that’s going to have to change and I remember us talking before, a couple of weeks ago, Jonathan about just as an example, neurodiversity. If we have a number of questions that are so binary and don’t allow for somebody to explore whether somebody might have in our current systems, for example, you will do the usual adaptive tests, or you will do whatever personality dynamics, whatever the online testing. If that testing facility or environment is not right for somebody, we might lose great opportunities to acquire great talent that has specific skill because our systems and the way in which we evaluate people don’t account for that and I think that’s– I mean, that’s the same when it comes to all elements of diversity and inclusion. I think that definitely needs to evolve.



And the second component, not that on diversity of skills, we’re going to have broader expectations of people. So just baseline skills in digital, for example, Louisa mentioned, she spent a huge amount of time and energy and will continue to do so in local, on making sure that people have a foundation of skills, we still have generations in our teams who are still learning some of the basics that the next generation will find they can do with their eyes closed. So I think it’s making sure that there’s a huge amount of investment in people and also the way in which we recruit people, and training people who recruit I’ve been in many interviews in the last few months as we grow as an organization and I’m always delighted to see great new talent coming in but the way in which we form even our question needs to evolve for me.


Louisa Hogarty  26:28

I couldn’t agree more. We have got this change happening, where we took many of our tests out because they were prohibitive to many people joining and for us, it’s around the education of the recruiters. How do you move from, well, they haven’t worked in xyz factory, so therefore they can’t work here to really focus on attitudes, behaviors, and skills that could go across many different roles and long gone are those days where you go into an organization, you have a nice clear ladder, from the bottom to the top as to what your journey is. You’re very much more likely to go from left to right before you go up and those are the people with those diverse skill sets that are going to bring the best thinking and the best impact to your business but the biggest hurdle that I’ve experienced is the more traditional managers are doing the recruiting in their image, rather than looking for future fit skills and really important to me, it’s about behavior and attitude. Most skills can be taught, if you’ve got the right attitude, and we are well up for teaching lots of people skill if they have the aptitude to want to learn it.


Jonathan  O’Hagan  27:44

Absolutely. I think this may link in with 1 of our earlier points around our measures of success but you’re so right, Louisa people tend to– In my experience, tend to recruit people, obviously to do a job hit– We’ve all heard those phrases hit the ground running this that the other– I think until there’s that shift around our success metrics, being around things like well-being and Jules, like you were saying a much broader array of what we need, people will only recruit what they’ve typically recruited in the past and my biggest fear is this sort of box ticking, like you say, oh, they’ve not done this, or they’ve not done that. Actually, we’re going to be moving towards a much broader place in terms of needs and skills and experiences. It’s a big topic but I think it’s a scary place, if we end up going down the AI box ticking root completely.


Louisa Hogarty  28:39

I was also going to add for us. It’s not just about that skills and behaviors being in roles and I’m sure Jules has a similar experience where you have more manufacturing roles or farm lead roles that are physical and they need to physically be there to do the job. My managers look for people that are full time and fully flexible and what that means is they’ll work whatever hours I want them to work.


Jonathan  O’Hagan  29:01



Louisa Hogarty  29:01

Which you’re not going to find them, they don’t exist anymore. We need to be really clear on the hours that people can’t work. What flexibility can we offer, could that be 2 people that are sharing that job rather than one person that’s going to work? You have 50 hours in the week. So that is also been a challenge outside of the skills and behaviour. It’s that full time, fully flexible approach to how we’d love to recruit everybody.


Julia Darvill  29:28

Absolutely. I’ve got a lovely example of that actually. We’ve got a farm in our recent acquisition in Puratos 4ayes in which one of the ladies who is our best to pick her in the picking season, she does picking for a whole community, and it’s bigger than just our organizations andI’m sure it;s the same at Noble. If people work in agriculture, they’re part of a wider community than each of our organizations and the lady that I’m speaking about is a single parent of 2 and she works her shift that she does when she’s picking for us as a season. She’s then picking soft fruits before us and then after she’s going on to seeds and grains and what have you, and she’s part of a community of pickers with a brilliant skill set and knowledge and we wouldn’t traditionally have reviewed people like that, because we don’t necessarily like you go, like you said before Jonathan, this criteria we have defined, we need to break down barriers.



The same is true of the degree piece I mentioned. We have a fantastic gentleman who’s just joined us recently who has a military background and on the surface of things, he doesn’t necessarily tick all of the credentials of xyz experience. For me, he’s one of the most resilient leaders we’ve managed to acquire. I think he’s brilliant and going back to what Louisa said about attitudes and behaviors, this person might have come through the net and not– We wouldn’t have swiped right, if you will and that’s– That concerns me greatly because we’re missing people who have life experience and they have an education system that’s less traditional, that is massively affecting positively the rest of the team.


Jonathan  O’Hagan  30:57

Yes, absolutely. Louisa, are you familiar with Hollywood’s work model, have you come across that?


Louisa Hogarty  31:02

I did read up on it actually, Jonathan, because I saw some notes. It’s not one I’ve heard called the Hollywood model but when I read about it, I thought, OK, that makes sense and for us, I suppose in more manufacturing roles, it’s harder to achieve but maybe in those more project based roles, we have elements of that that we’re doing with purpose across the organization, not knowing it was a model of work, which is where we’re bringing members of different business units together to work on cross business projects for a specific period of time, and then moving on and dispersing them back. So I think that element comes in for our slightly more traditional structured businesses. It’s not one that would be used a lot outside of that.


Jonathan  O’Hagan  31:51

Yes, it’s definitely got a place in time but it’s an interesting one and when we talk about things like the side hustle, and I guess, the slightly younger generation in their propensity to do a number of different things, variety, I think it’s got legs when we think about the future and I guess to clarify as well by the way if anyone’s not familiar with it, it’s essentially recruiting, bringing together a group of people to achieve a common goal and then, you disband afterwards. So a bit like creating a Hollywood film, you bring in the actors, the cast, etc, etc, getting the thing done, and then you disband on to the next project and I guess you only have to look at places like 5rr and Upwork. I don’t know if you’ve used any of those platforms but they’re huge now in such demand and it’s such an amazing platform just to dip in and out of talent when you need it fairly quickly and I do wonder whether that’s a place that traditional roles. You make a good point, Louisa, but I wonder whether it’s the place that more traditional roles can be, can utilize that model where you bring people in to achieve a certain goal and then off see you go on to the next one.


Louisa Hogarty  32:56

We started this whole podcast by saying, where’s the crystal ball? We don’t have the answers and we know that we’re going to find the answers by bringing together the most diverse teams and often that’s really difficult to do when you’re in a organization surrounded by people that have been there 5, 10, 15, we celebrate somebody 50 years of employment the other week, so we have lots of service in our business but for example, on Friday, as a leadership team, we were deep diving on sustainability, learning about regenerative agriculture, which Jules also just mentioned and to do that, we went out, and we went to meet new people, people that were experts in the area to teach us because we didn’t know and alone, we can’t do that thinking. So I think it’s being really open and curious as leaders to say, well, we don’t have the answers and quite frankly, haven’t got a clue of where we’re going to find them on our own, to bring in that extra resource and help that thinking.


Julia Darvill  34:01

I totally agree and I think you look at all of our businesses, the lifeblood of which is innovation. It goes also beyond people’s skill sets. It’s also their baseline life experience. So we have a multicultural society to think of it just in our marketplace and many of the things that we do service Western Europe or even globally if we export. So we need to have a very good understanding. If we’re creating brilliant food for our consumers, it’s not going to be the consumer A1 always and understanding that starts with having people just in our innovation teams, for example, I’m listening to what you’re saying Louisa and I’m thinking there are lots of opportunities to cross pollinate many of the organizations in the Food Ne2rk, we’re all part of our global organizations and I’d like to see us challenge more to pull up on that, not just from sending the grains and seeds information from the Nordics for example and let’s talk about malt from Estonia, those are brilliant and really important. Let’s do the same for people that understand in HR communities, how do we learn from each other? Because the world is getting smaller.


Jonathan  O’Hagan  35:12

That’s a really interesting point. If you don’t mind, guys, I just wanted to zoom in a bit on each of your respective businesses, the pandemic look at caused a huge shift in where, when, and how we work essentially. A huge shift almost overnight. What did it look like in your business? You know, how have you adapted pre and post pandemic? Louisa, maybe if I come to you first.


Louisa Hogarty  35:35

We carried on quite largely business as usual through the pandemic bit that we’re a food organization. We have farms, we have manufacturing sites, and we’re producing food and therefore, we had those lovely letters in our cars that said, we’re a key worker and we continue. That’s apart from 200 sort of central finance, procurement, HR roles etc. that went to the work from home model, which is a really small amount of the overall organization. Thankfully, we just deployed Microsoft 365, I want to say a month before lockdown. I mean, we couldn’t have been more lucky with our tech deployment and so we could switch on those remote working tools and Jules talked about a Petri dish earlier but we absolutely had that. You had to make it work and everybody had to adapt to it and that was wonderful, in terms of speed of adoption, and people getting the hang of the technology and who would think 7 years ago, when we didn’t even have the ability to make a video call in the business, that we’d be where we are today with many training interventions, many meetings, bringing people together with our CEO, and I go live every couple of weeks with an update in of social media platform across the business and you look back, even just pre pandemic, and you couldn’t even imagine some of that happening in an organization that was as traditional as ours. So that’s how we’ve adapted since but the reality is through pandemic, apart from those core group of workers. There wasn’t an awful lot else that changed.


Jonathan  O’Hagan  37:22

And what’s the adoption been like Louisa, for this, digitalization, let’s call it? Yes. What’s the attitude and adoption been like, generally?


Louisa Hogarty  37:32

Well, they had to adopt it. So I think that’s always when there’s a need, it makes it happen and it’s become a way of working. I suppose what also happened over time because we’re sort of 5 years, aren’t we since since locked down? We’ve also had a change in some of those teams. We’ve brought in some younger people in some of those teams as well and that is just how they work. So I think you’ve got both the traditional part of the business that had to adopt it and kept it or be it. We also want some of that face to face physical contact so we believe that’s really important to come together as teams and we’ve got the younger generation have now come in, but that’s just how they work. I can’t see it ever going back.


Jonathan  O’Hagan  38:17

No. Well, you’ve made those changes now and I guess this is the point around that huge shift we all felt. Actually we look back now and it’s kind of like well, of course, we should have always worked that way but again, as we think towards the future, you think well, what’s the next big shift going to be? Is it going to be imposed on us? Or are we going to be proactive and almost get ahead of the curve? Jules, same question to you. How have you guys adapted after that huge shift that we all felt? What are the things that you’ve kept, you’ve maybe accelerated done more of? Yes, give us an insight into into your business.




Julia Darvill  38:52

I would echo all of the things that Louisa said that there’s a business we had to embrace overnight evolution digitally. I think we are going through a period of refinement in year 5 now. In years, sort of 1 and 2 in the thick of it. I think we all embraced a massive sense of community that I think we wanted to then understand why we hadn’t had as much or as intensively previously, there was an awful amount of care and attention for everybody and I think after that then it’s been this in years 3 and 3 to 5 now more exaggerated health concern and well-being in culture for caring and one of the platforms we talked about Puratos with culture for caring is that holistic package that I mentioned, which is making sure that even the way we reward our teams and we grow our teams, has enough time for people to learn and to look after themselves physically and mentally.



I remember doing a piece of training when I was a wee Nipper at the beginning of my career, which seemed very advanced talking about worlds like wellness and that was 20 years ago. Now there is a very different expectation and foundation but I’m glad has evolved from the pandemic and I think the refinement in year 5 comes that hybrid working in 2019, just before the pandemic, we had 65% of our workforce on site. So there was a natural sense of community, it’s now 23%, or it was at the begin at the end of 23, 2023 and in 2024, we’ve actually got a strategic objective to make sure we are starting to connect again, more face to face and differently, and the same for our customers because the way in which we’ve almost unwired for a year of not being able to physically drive around the world with each other, it’s still taking time for people to make time for us to go visit and tell meaningful stories and for a lot of our suppliers and customers, they want innovation seminars and they want brilliance and dynamism.



For me, that’s personally going to happen when you can use all of your body rather than the bust that you see on a window on Zoom and I think the summary of all of that is that in 2024, and beyond, we will see more and more evolution of our culture of trust. Trust is at the center of everything we do, it’s in our corporate DNA and I’m very proud of that and I think, overnight, we had to assume people weren’t going to be doing 6 days of washing and messing around at home. We saw people’s cat bottoms coming on and little kids appearing and all sorts of things. We’re having to have trust as an employer, all of us, in our employee, and that dynamic is making a shift and I still think it’s being refined because for some workers, they can’t have that level of flexibility because it’s the choice of the nature of the work, as Louisa said quite a lot of manual work in some environments but that doesn’t mean that it’s any less important for that workforce to have the flexibility and the agility to be present for their partners, spouses, their family dynamics.




We’re also seeing more blended family dynamics in society and we need to make sure as an organization, we cater for that because during the pandemic, these people had a really good balance and we don’t want to unwire that. So I think Puratos culture for caring is something that’s a legacy that was just accelerated as a result of the pandemic. It was always going to be as part of family business and I love that. We call it Puratos magic. It’s kind of that thing you can’t put your finger on. So I think we need to evolve that.


Louisa Hogarty  42:14

Yes, I– The word care is really cool for us as well. Our values are an acronym that says to care and that’s really at our heart and I suppose the pandemic just showed, gave us the opportunity to demonstrate that in different ways but coming out of that, just like you say, not losing that momentum. For us bringing back that physical contact, we’ve probably accelerated that more middle of last year and we’re still on that journey now. Same with customers. Going out physically, going to meet customers, physically bringing leaders together, even if it’s quarterly, as well as doing this, the online pieces because it’s those water cooler chats as where business happens, where you find out things where all of the gray is filled in and we absolutely miss that and we did value in it.


Julia Darvill  43:08

Before we started recording, we were talking about checking in on health and with each other. One of the things we were talking about was the fuel that we’re yet to try and attach productivity value to from being at work because for a lot of time, we were unwinding or making sure that we had agility or hybrid working and I think some of the stats that you’ve been chatting through previously about the need for hybrid working is essential but I’ll give you the live example with myself who is saying during my treatment, so I was diagnosed with cancer in 2022 in December. In this last 18 months, the only thing that has kept me going is that are the days in which I can be with my team. So I think there is a more holistic approach that we possibly haven’t even understood or dialed up yet which is the role for the working environment to actually promote positive mental health and I’m only speaking from my own experience, but I feel very privileged to work with the people I work with because they keep me going.


Jonathan  O’Hagan  44:11

Thank you for sharing that Jules.


Louisa Hogarty  44:13

We have also had people that have said, it was great working from home at the beginning but quite now I know I speak to people but I’m lonely. So those that may have been 100% home based, even living an hour away from an office and now coming in 1 or 2 days a week because they need that physical connection.

Jonathan  O’Hagan  44:30

I think there was a piece missing, wasn’t there when we had that shift and people could work from home? Once the novelty wore off actually working from home, I truly believe it’s a skill in itself. We’re all just so used to getting in a car going to an office but suddenly when you’re tasked with working from home, so many distractions, and actually that discipline and those routines and rules that– I mean I know because I’ve worked from home for a long time I’ve had to build in. I spent far too much money on an office in the garden, for that exact reason to help me stay disciplined and it really makes a difference to my productivity but I think that overnight shift in saying, look, you haven’t got a choice, you got to work from home, perhaps there’s an element of retraining, giving people the tools, knowledge to actually get a productive day’s work done and those lines between work and life. OK, they are a bit more blurred but actually, they’re still manageable but you’ve got to do certain things in certain ways. Otherwise, like you say, people come back pretty quick and say, now I want to work in an office. I can’t work from home.


Julia Darvill  45:37

I think we also need to then think about what they’re returning to because for me, it’s not from the world from old. It’s not just a reinstatement of the things that were pre-pandemic, even the way we wired and set up our offices is different than how it is now. It needs to be more evolved and more appealing and I’m not suggesting that everybody has bean bags and what have you, I mean, Google, it was a great benchmark for lots of reasons but I think we need to think about asking– Comes back to the Louise’s point around listening, asking people, what is going to make those experiences in the office most meaningful and productive for you? And I would love to see more organizations ask things like that in the next couple of months because I think we have great opportunities to differentiate the environment in which you are most stimulated is obviously very nuanced and different to the workforce.


Jonathan  O’Hagan  46:25

Well, I’ve got some stats for you. I know everyone loves the stats. So 85% of UK workers wants hybrid or flexible working conditions and they do regard it as a deal breaker and then 86% of people want to work from home, on average, 2 days a week. So this whole kind of flexible working ability, it’s really important for attracting talent, it’s a deal breaker, but also retaining talent. So I guess within your respective businesses, this whole flexible working movement, how does it manifest itself? What are the things that you’re trying to be flexible on? Louisa, I’ll come to you first.


Louisa Hogarty  47:02

I think we’ve naturally evolved to a ratio of about 3 days in the office and that’s been through, again, lots of listening, and an experimentation and we’re just now getting to the point, where do we need some anchor days so that we have some really productive days where everybody’s in, so we’re just exploring that at the moment and the days don’t look the same. They’re not 9 to 5 days, some people do a 7 to 3, some people do an 8 to 4 and they’re fluid and there’s no longer that moment in the office where somebody gets up to walk out and everybody’s whispering or looking and thinking, what are they doing? There is that trust that people are delivering how they need to for their roles. So that’s definitely moved forwards but that, like I say, in offices is a small percentage of our workforce and in production roles and in those front end roles. This is a bigger challenge, because if 85% of the population wants a flexible hybrid working, well, what about all the manufacturing and farming jobs that can’t offer that? So we’ve had to look differently as to the flexibility we can offer.



So most of our operational roles are now on a 4 on, 4 off. So they do for longer days and I think that’s a great shift pattern personally and it’s definitely one that seems to go down well with our operational stuff and some work a Continental, which is a 5 and 3. So we’re doing different things with our shift patterns and then looking at how do we support families, for example, so do you have 1 member do 2 long days and job share with somebody else that can do 2 days. So looking at different levers you can pull, but the challenge for me if the workforce are all wanting, a high percentage 85%, 86% wanting that hybrid, what is the future of those frontline roles? Because they’re never going to be hybrid.


Julia Darvill  49:06

And if I were going to build on that, I think that’s where many organizations in our industry are going to have to invest heavily in things like automation. A lot of these working patterns that we talked about, a lot of the work could be involved and this isn’t a mission to take workforces down to zero. This is about understanding how we could redeploy people and make sure that we invest heavily. We’ve done some really important work in our new m&a, for example, on making workers lives better with these types of work patterns. I’m more concerned also about engagement of people going forward. I mean, we’ve worked very hard to make sure that when people are coming in, like Louisa said there’s reasons to be there and that those anchor days have a way to connect with people. It’s not just water cooler chats. It’s coming in to talk last Friday about grocery aid and the role of our charity or our community, or it’s giving people commercial surgeries to come in evolve themselves, or it’s, the more Doctor surgery style pop in setups and more agility from and that’s going to challenge leaders as well to be more connected.


Jonathan  O’Hagan  50:15

I think you’re right. I think you made a really good point, certainly about frontline workers. The World Economic Forum estimates by 2030, 85 million jobs may be displaced by technological advancements, which sounds really scary, doesn’t it? 85 million. However, they do go on to say 97 million new roles may emerge. These roles that are combining technology and there’s still the need for a human ultimately, somewhere. So I think that’s a really interesting one, those frontline workers, yes. How do you offer flexible working conditions? Well, AI automation, it’s more than in our presence, now it’s going to get greater. So those jobs probably will look slightly different and that comes back to this whole re-skilling people for the future, doesn’t it? It’s really interesting. I’m full of stats today and numbers.

Julia Darvill  51:08

You are.


Jonathan  O’Hagan  51:09

So 4 day working week, dare I ask, what are your thoughts?


Louisa Hogarty  51:13

Well, the 4 on, 4 off is a type of 4 day working week, but in our offices, we have some people that have opted to reduce or condense their hours to 4 days but in reality, when your customers are still working on a 5 day working week, it’s very difficult to maintain a service level with that. I think almost the country needs to go to that model, and then it would work. I’d love to see it, I think it’d be wonderful for everybody’s well-being but it needs to be on math.


Julia Darvill  51:43

It– I think there’s merit and what Louisa says around as a country. This is a macro, this is bigger than us on this conversation. Some of the markets in which it does work well are places that are more evolved like in Israel, Switzerland, Sweden, they’ve many organizations have managed to make that work, because there is not an expectation that you go to the supermarket and it’s open from 7 to 7 on a Sunday, for example. So there is not that supply chain creating that demand and we might not solve that on this call but I think there’s definitely an opportunity. Going back to the words experimentation, I love that Louisa uses that and Noble and Puratos are both learning organizations, very deeply rooted in their cultures.



I think we need to review things like that this is different than when someone says I want time, whilst my small person is small, or I want to care for my mother or whatever. This is different, this is about a fundamental shift in our success, our expectation of productivity, I’ll tell you, I’m completely useless past 3 Pm every day. I can’t make any decisions past 3 PM. I’m very awake at 5 in the morning and run a marathon style awake and so I think it’s those types of patterns. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves as humans during the pandemic and now we’re more vocal about those things. It was very nuanced previously, or it was– We’re very British and stoic about things. I think we’re now more vocal about what our needs are and certainly the next generation will be.


Jonathan  O’Hagan  53:05

Brilliant. Now, just before we break for part 3, I did want to get your thoughts on the rise of the green collar worker, which has been gaining some interest. Purpose and sustainability as we know, it’s a vital part of our lives, not just business these days. What are your individual thoughts on introducing more of these, I guess, positions that are intrinsically linked to green credentials. Louisa, have you– I think we’ve spoken before, haven’t we? You’ve already introduced some roles if you’ve got plans to introduce even more in the future?


Louisa Hogarty  53:39

Yes, so we traditionally had a head of health, safety and environment and in the last 6 months, we split that role. So we have a head of sustainability and now a head of health and safety. So we have that focus is just growing and growing and we’ve also put a role in that’s looking down our supply chain, through the sustainability lens because, again, with agriculture, anybody that works in a way that has a supply chain with agriculture will know that most of your scope 3 emissions are going to come from there. So there’s a huge amount of work to do. So we’ve recognized that we’ve employed somebody that can really engage with that population and we’ve got a role that’s helping us internally with our sights and how we can be better, but that’s, say 3 roles and the elephant that we have to eat is quite a large one and I can see it evolving over a period of time. Outside of those dedicated roles, there’s also investment in our environmental champions that we have on each site and we’ve invested in their learning and development with specific sustainability training and they’ve got together on their sites to do biodiversity projects. They give you great pride and showing you how recycling’s improved or how they’ve built a bug hotel or whatever it might it’d be, but getting those grass roots people engaged in the story is the key. I wouldn’t say we’ve cracked it yet, we’ve started and hopefully we’ll see that really come into its own in the coming year.


Julia Darvill  55:12

And to build on that, I think we’ve done much of what Louisa has captured, I think what I’m proud of, is the group executive committee sponsorship that means every single human, the business has a key performance indicator related to these topics. So even culturally, never mind adding the headcount and we’ve got a very good and strong wellness, and separately sustainability team group and in each local market. So that’s very evolved in terms of full time employees, we’ve all got to be part of something. If we’re saying in our DNA of our organizations. So I think that’s one transition in last year that’s really evolved is that we’re all targeted in a similar way. So that’s not just the wellness lady or the sustainability man that have come in to do it is their problem. That’s a cultural shift, which I’m proud of.



And the second thing is, I think, all of us as organizations need to think broader than our own organizations, the government, and the access to grants and funds and all of the outside thinking of more experts. We’re working more with startup companies and more with incubators that we have through sparkles. A number of fantastic grants are available, we just– We almost don’t know what we don’t know and I think particularly in agri-manufacturing businesses, we need to get better at going right. You’re the PhD that’s going to do a knowledge transfer, how do we share and evolve those things? And those are things that we can then gift to our customers as much whatever evolves from that, whether it’s around cultures of caring, or whether it’s around sustainability platforms. There’s a lot of money out there and investment and time given but we almost don’t know what we don’t know. So I think that’s something I want to keep evolving.

Louisa Hogarty  56:52

I agree with that, in terms of, especially in the agri sector, looking at grants and there’s– There are so many out there, it is a full time job to find them and I think past partnering, we talked about skills earlier, but partnering with external organizations, PhD students experimenting, that’s wonderful and that gives us part of the journey. I should probably add, we also as an exec team are all measured as well on our sustainability metrics and we refinanced about a year ago and we actually have ESG linked lending as well. So it’s really at the heart of everything we’re doing. What gets measured gets done, as we know, so always helps.


Jonathan  O’Hagan  57:36

Yes. I think what we do know is there’s going to be more of these, we can call them green collar workers, but more roles that are assigned directly to– I mean, Jule’s you mentioned wellness, I think there will be more roles assigned to the wellness of people or traditionally we maybe categorize that as employee engagement but there’s a space there isn’t there or the other way of thinking is actually it’s going to be incorporated into every single one of our roles, because fundamentally, it’s part of the future. Great, we’re going to take another short break. We’ll be back in 2 moments.





Jonathan  O’Hagan  58:12

Hello, it’s me. I really hope you’re enjoying the episodes so far. Now before we move on to part 2, I have a little joke for you. How many recruiters does it take to change a light bulb? The answer, just 1, but they’ll charge you to change it again in 6 months’ time. Now whilst this may be funny, it is however very sadly true, as the vast majority of the recruitment industry is geared up to provide on average only a 12 week rebate period. Research shows that poor recruitment processes can lead to up to 1 in 3 new hires leaving within the first 12 months. The knock on effect while this is costing not just 10s of 1000s but potentially 100s of 1000s of pounds each year to businesses. So how can I help? Well, with almost 20 years’ experience under my belt and some 1500 assignments successfully delivered on, I’ve actually developed a bespoke approach to hiring for those all-important senior management and board level appointments. This approach I call, leader 360. Leader 360 is a modern, scientific and insight led approach. It empowers you to make more predictable and successful hiring decisions with an almost 98% new highest success rate. Yes, 98% because of this, we back it up with a 1 year guarantee. A crucial factor that underpins this bespoke approach is that I’m personally an accredited interpreter through the McQuaig Institute, one of the best behavioral profiling companies around. With our pre-hire assessments, we can provide actionable insights into a candidate’s personality, cognitive and behavioral attributes. This then predicts both their chances of success within a role and importantly within your company culture. I’ve sadly learned the hard way that this is crucial. You’re in the pursuit of successfully hiring people and finding true cultural fit. So in simple terms, we remove the guesswork, we reduce the bad high risk, we reduce your commercial downtime, and we reduce your overall costs, saving you money. If you’re interested to find out how I can help you hire better, drop me a line. You can get me on Jon without H. J-O-N@leaderexecutivesearch.com. I’d love to hear from you. Now back to the episode.



Welcome back. This is part 3 of, “Let’s talk the future workplace.” I’m joined by Jules and Louisa. The next thing I wanted to pick your brains about guys is leadership is evolved hugely in the last half a dozen years, let’s say especially with the pandemic, that certainly accelerated a different need in terms of soft skills. Thinking about the future workplace, how do you think leadership is going to evolve? What are the behaviors, what are the skills, what are the styles you think the leaders of tomorrow are going to need? Jules, if I come to you first.


Julia Darvill  1:01:06

I think we saw as a result of the pandemic and expedited empathy starting to build in people as leaders and I think one of the things that I want to see more of is that leadership, the central foundation of leadership is coach, leader is coach, which is really understanding and making time. Not only making time but quality time for people to really understand and listen and get and consult and immerse in each other. We’ve moved away from 50s factory models of leader is dictator, then we went to the kind of leader is central and the promoter supporter behaviors are still very much in leaders. I see that in my peer set, in my competitive peer set who are greatly respectful of. I think we need to evolve more and more, the empathy and agility side of leadership, the pandemic taught us that we all have to be resilient enough to be able to think on our feet, no one had predicted that we’d be wiped out for a period of time, somewhat Arrested Development in some areas of our businesses and we have to think very quickly about how to adapt and that adaptability or agility is something people are going to look for, for safety. If I think about what I want from a leader in those situations, and more of those will come and let’s hope it’s not as painful for everybody as the pandemic was because many lives were lost but we’re going to have all sorts of things science wipers, so I talked earlier about the fact that we have wars in the regions that I work in. I’ve seen the leaders that I work in my Puratos peer set, the most adaptable, and most emotionally intelligent that I’ve ever. I think they’re wonderful and I learned from them regularly.


Jonathan  O’Hagan  1:02:45

I think the whole coaching approach is absolutely spot on. It’s– I don’t know, if people respect authority as much as they do knowledge these days. It’s knowledge or authority, certainly for the younger generation that almost gains respect. Louisa, do you have any further thoughts? What are the skills traits that will make the best leaders of tomorrow, do you feel?



Louisa Hogarty  1:03:08

I agree, everything that Jules just said in terms of empathy. I think there’s an element of humility as well, that comes with that and that coaching style. For me, the journey is one from parent child to adult adult, which is a language I’m using a lot at the moment within Noble. We employ adults, we need to trust them as adults and we need to empower them as adults and that’s where great coaches come in. So for me, the future leaders is a great coach. They’re extremely curious. They ask amazing questions and they empower their teams with excellent sponsorship. So that looks like empathy, that looks like bringing in wonderful facilitator, bringing teams together, and not being the one that has all the answers, which historically has equaled leadership. Leadership equals answer.


Julia Darvill  1:04:05



Louisa Hogarty  1:04:05

And I would love to see more leaders facilitate the answer from their team.


Jonathan  O’Hagan  1:04:11

Yes, and if I can add, when we think about AI, actually AI could maybe make decisions based on spreadsheets and metrics and etc., etc. Actually, a lot of what you guys are both referring to is the softer skills so empathy, coaching, curiosity, it’s going to create hopefully more space for these sorts of behaviors, which is where I guess this embryonic sort of working in harmony, role of a CEO or a business leader can can live.


Julia Darvill  1:04:40

That is uniquely human and I think I’ve actually worked with coaching qualification trainers who are talking about this dichotomy we face now with AI. What is uniquely human about us and why we are evolved as animals is we all need to take breath, whatever our political views are, where we are in the world, how rich or poor, it doesn’t matter what the meaningful connections are central to our evolution and I think the more you can breed in leaders, for me, all of the investment in our leaders in the future will be their ability to coach and those things that we’ve talked about so far today are all part of that. How to ask the right questions and interviews would come from a really great coach, in my humble opinion.



Jonathan  O’Hagan  1:05:23

Yes, I agree. Well, work is no longer a place as it’s about an experience. It’s about how people feel. I think you’ve said that to me previously, Jules, it’s about how people feel in that business and again, it all comes back to the same thing. It’s about attracting, retaining great talent. If you make them feel like they’re in a good place, engaged, happy, etc, etc., it’s a winning formula and this may be relates to the next point, I really wanted to get your opinion on. I think we’ve made some great strides in recent years around understanding neurodiversity and building teams with that diversity element in it. Jules, first of all, what’s your thoughts around the future of building neurodiverse teams? We talked earlier about moving away from the traditional kind of been to this university got that sort of background, we have made some progress, but there’s an awful long way to go, isn’t there? What’s your vision of the future around neurodiversity in the place it has within the workplace?


Julia Darvill  1:05:25

I think this is a broader topic of all inclusion. I think we if we’re going to really understand how to make sure we make the best out of all of the brilliant humans in this broad Canvas we all operate in on this planet, we have to start with understanding. I think there’s still a long way to go. I’ve been part of training in the last couple of years, or I’ve dropped into things where I can’t help but feel like there is a tick box part of the training which is do we really then circle back and deeply check that people understand the spectrum of how brilliant brains are and how different axes are wired. The way I explain this to my autistic daughter, myself, also autistic, is that we all have brilliant cauliflowers and they’re all different shapes and sizes, and they will have superpowers and there is no one right or wrong way of looking at something but there are different ways of thinking about applying something and we talk about the IKEA flat pack regularly in our organization. There are people in the room that are already deciding where it’s going to go and there are people who are reading the cover to cover destructions. There’s no right or wrong. It’s understanding.



First of all, how all of those cauliflowers are wired? And understanding then where those roles may be able to match those cauliflowers and I think one of the difficulties we’ve got at the moment is just a baseline misunderstanding of things and then I think if you can assume we get in the next couple of years to a better understanding, it’s then working back, how are our current recruitment policies wired or not? How do our teams who are more mature who don’t necessarily recognize the need for that diversity, how do they evolve? And how do we make it safe for the next generation to articulate those better? My daughter is 12 years old and she can’t articulate yet anything other than what I assume is a mother’s biased of a super cake but actually, I don’t want her to go to an organization and make herself appear special because that’s not the language I would want her to try and if you see what I mean, I would want Gen Alphas to come into organizations and say, I am brilliant with Numerics. I have a fantastic xyz and being able to articulate things very concretely, is something that I think all the generations match together need to have a different level of understanding and then it’ll have a long way to go. You’re absolutely right, a long way to go.



Jonathan  O’Hagan  1:08:43

With my recruitment cap on, I think, generally speaking, we’ve got to get better at recruiting teams as a whole. So not recruiting against a job, per se. Of course, there’s a need for that but I think bigger picture recruiting teams based on individual strengths that complement or sometimes counter each other, for the benefit of the whole. We’ve all in the consumer world, I guess you’ve all got to build a leadership team that better reflects your broad base of consumers, right? And I think historically that physical kind of, OK, we all look the same, we all sound the same, it’s quite easy to hear and spot. When we’re talking about neurodiversity, it’s a little bit harder to spot but I guess, yes, we’ve got to start recruiting from a very different place, knowing where we’re going in terms of that end goal of OK, there’s benefits here, here and here. Louisa, is this something you guys as Noble Foods are thinking about or you’re working towards it? And what are your thoughts on it?


Louisa Hogarty  1:09:45

Probably similar to Jules. This is around the broader diversity of thinking. We spoke earlier around our lifetime being innovation. You’re not going to get innovation and a team where everybody’s the same. You need diverse perspectives, different ideas, different ways of thinking, different ways of answering the same question and you’re only going to get that by bringing different minds in the room. I love and hate the fact that I think in Britain in particular, we love putting things in boxes, we love labeling things and my children very similar age, they’re 12 and 14, they speak to me about I think I’m x, I think I’m y. Why do you need to label yourself? Why do you need to put yourself in a box, just own your strengths, own what you’re passionate about, own what you enjoy, and move on. We don’t have to put a label on it.



So that moving, coming back to attitudes, behaviors, and skills. If we’ve gone in there to say I’m great at math, I’m great at analyzing data, I’m passionate about our producing ne2rk, I can make a difference by, that’s very different to I’ve got a degree from x. We need to dig deeper when we’re recruiting and I also agree completely with you, Jonathan, it’s not just about the role, it’s about the team and it’s the broader team and I don’t think we’ve done enough yet, really looking at team dynamics outside of how we work with each other and from a high performing teams perspective but I don’t believe when we go to recruit, we often look at the team enough in deciding the skills that we need.




Julia Darvill  1:11:29

Absolutely and the same goes for environment as well. We’ve done a lot of training in the last year as an organization, it’s then given people license or language to come and say, I just want you to know that these bright lights and this noise have been annoying me for 8 years, and I’ve been sitting here doing a half a job, I think I’d be brilliant in this environment, which you might change. Absolutely. Alleluia. So sorry, it’s not felt safe for you to be able to or find your own language, your own self discovery to acknowledge that and I think that’s something we need to think about is environments when we come to developing a worker environment that is as agile as we need it to be as well when people are returning to these offices, or turning into large manufacturing spaces with lots of noise, for example, or what have you. So environments just as key.


Jonathan  O’Hagan  1:12:16

I think being agile or agility is a really good words. I was going to say individuality but I think we’re moving towards a world where we do need to cater for individual needs to bring out people’s potential and strengths but really it is about agility, isn’t it? It’s recognizing and being agile and being able to move quickly enough.


Louisa Hogarty  1:12:37

And it also goes back to the trust and the trust you build in the organization, and the ability and you have to truly listen and the safety that people have to provide the feedback, whatever any of these matters that we spoken about today have been at the core of it, we need people to feel safe to tell us and we need to act on and listen from what we’ve been– What we’re hearing.


Julia Darvill  1:13:02

Absolutely and unwiring some of the bias or unconscious bias that’s in many of us. I’m guilty of it myself, when my programming and my own experiences in life have given me a perception of what is right or wrong and only now starting to reflect on certain specific examples in the last couple of months that have come up where I’ve said, why does that not scan with me? And why does it have to scan with me? Because if this person, I think that’s really interesting is that unconscious bias many of us have, and it’s not remotely malicious. It’s that humility, you mentioned before, Louisa is that all of us need to be curious and open minded.


Jonathan  O’Hagan  1:13:39

This may have a related aspect, but I wanted to pick your brains on the whole social mobility pieces. Again, as we look towards the future, I guess that gap between the halves and the halve nots, arguably it’s– It has gotten wider and potentially will get wider. I don’t really know whose role that is. Is it government, is it business? What’s your thoughts  in terms of that social mobility piece? Is it a business’s responsibility to create more equality of opportunity for people? Jules, if I come to you first.

Julia Darvill  1:14:13

Yes, I think so. I think you make a good point on where does this stop and end because we will see evolution of governments and regimes and people’s. I’m not going to comment on the political spectrum but I think the marketplace that we live in, and the wider Western European marketplace that many of our businesses serve and our customers operate in. It’s becoming more and more complex to be able to recognize until it’s too late. We’re almost at the moment treating symptoms not causes on lots of these things. An example I would give is, I mentioned blended families before but if you’ve got incomes where you’ve got a single parent family, for example, that’s more and more common and the mobility of somebody like that means that many organizations will take advantage potentially, of whatever worked out and maybe or the longevity of service. Somebody you mentioned before we came on this call and we’ve discussed things together before about how there isn’t a rise on the breadline poverty in certain areas and then we’ll set up factories in certain areas and that doesn’t give anybody a right to command a low end work level of income for somebody. That being said, we also then need to be coming back to the holistic package if you can better lives by being able to afford people things like gym membership, or access to things that are other benefits that improve people’s complete lives, then I think organizations can truly differentiate.


Julia Darvill  1:15:41

The same goes for some of our farming communities. For Noble, for example, same with cacao trees and the farming ne2rks we have in places like the Ivory Coast and Vietnam, we’re very committed as organizations to making sure that we can affect change at the root but I think I still feel like we’re treating some symptoms rather than causes and I think that’s probably more geopolitical than we are on this call.


Louisa Hogarty  1:16:05

I agree. I think as an organization and probably more in FMCG as a sector, we do have a unique opportunity to support and improve social mobility. We have a number of roles that don’t need to have a particular education to get started and we’re really proud that some of the leaders in our organization started as cleaners will start on the line and have been afforded the opportunity or taken the opportunity to learn and grow and be supported to the organization and for us, a real focus has been on apprenticeships on how do we bring the people off the shop floor and give them those opportunities. Not everybody wants them but if they do, then they can have that opportunity with us and just last year, I think we had 6 people that trained to be class one HGV drivers that came from all across the organization. We’ve now had 2 women as well, that’s come through off the shop floor and our class one drivers. So this is an opportunity from going from a quite an entry level job to a fairly well-paying job as an each as a class one driver, because they’ve taken the opportunity that we were very proud to be able to give them. So whilst we’re not going to solve the whole of the UK in the world social mobility gap, I think we can make steps to actually do the right thing and support where we can.


Julia Darvill  1:17:33

And I would echo that with again, the comment on investment working with apprenticeship schemes and the government and working with partners. Even in a wider agricultural ne2rk with the Young Farmers Union, for example, there is an awful lot of other organizations, the Scottish bakers within my industry, for example, are a fantastic entity that work very tirelessly actually to bring about change in underprivileged areas. The same goes for reform. So people in environments that have come out of prison, going into give them a second chance to learn skills that are meaningful or a craft, there’s an awful lot I think we can all do if we partner with people around us as well.


Jonathan  O’Hagan  1:18:11

Well, it comes back to this according to the World Economic Forum, these 97 million new jobs that will be created, what are those skills that are going to be required to do those jobs? And what are the barriers to entry to getting access to training to get those skills to then get those jobs? It’s a really interesting one, but hopefully, there won’t be those huge barriers to entry. Hopefully, we’re getting to a place where beyond those kind of tick box style, where did you go to university, etc, etc and yes, those barriers to entry will be less. Just finally, guys. I wanted to pick your brains. Louisa, you mentioned it right at the beginning, this side hustle, which seems to be yes, increasingly, around these days. One thing I did find out actually, through a bit of research is under 25s are moving jobs twice as often as the previous generation which is really interesting and I guess if that continues, the first question is, bow sustainable is that? But secondly, this side hustle, as business leaders, are you embracing it? And again, thinking about the future, is that something that you would welcome? People doing a number of different things that, of course, aren’t conflict of interest but maybe complementing their skill set, for example. So yes, what are your thoughts on the side hustle the advent a guess of people moving around a bit more and having more of a portfolio career? Louisa, if I come to you first.


Louisa Hogarty  1:19:36

I was reflecting on if people are moving twice as much as their previous generation. I wonder if the previous generation probably were moving twice as much as the one before that because the 1 before that we’re in jobs for life. So I think this is just something that’s continually evolving. So I’ve just addressed your side hustle piece first because I find this absolutely fascinating. When I do have 1 or 2 moments where I do indulge myself on a bit of TikTok scrolling, I am inundated with what the latest side hustle is and I’m avidly watching thinking I’ve missed something in my life that I should be multimillionaire by now by following all of these side hustles, so maybe watch the space, I’ll find one but this is the real life, certainly the younger generations, they’re doing all sorts of things, many of which are really creative, which I find fascinating and whilst I don’t believe we’re seeing enough in our business as to what that our employees are doing on the outside, now, and then we do get a lens into it and we’ve uncovered in our organization, the most phenomenal photographers, for example. So send that photographer out for a day or for their day job to some of our sites to get our new pictures, rather than hire an agency and pay them an extraordinary amount to do it.



So I think it’s an ability for us to untap potential and passions within the organization. I suppose it comes back to that trust and the openness as to how much they’re sharing and perhaps some local teams will know. So that still needs some work and with regards to people moving more quickly, I think that’s a fact of life and my view is, you give them the best possible experience that you can, whilst they’re with you, because in 5 or 10 years time, they may come all the way around back to you because they had the great experience and now they’ve got such a wealth of other experiences, they can skills they can bring to you. So it’s a fact of life, they’re going to move on, we’re going to give them the best experience we can while they’re here.


Julia Darvill  1:21:42

I love that and I would say that to echo that last point that Louisa makes, we– The idea is legacy for me is that if somebody can leave having had a great experience with you, as an employer, they are going to continue to be an advocate of yours. Every organization I’ve ever worked for, I feel really genuinely privileged, maybe I’ve been very lucky, I don’t know but I’ve always been an advocate of their brands, I’ve always been an advocate of their DNA culturally, because of those experiences being so positive and to the point when you then it’s an extension of your brand equity. When someone says do you recommend? Absolutely I recommend working for this person or xyz. I would say that we also need to reframe how we see something like this and this touches on Louisa’s note around trust, loyalty and the way we talk about attrition targets and things like that. Means that we often see or frame that somebody leaves as a failure and I don’t see it that way. There are an awful lot of very valid reasons why somebody’s life will change and is a fact of life, as Louisa said but I think framing that as an opportunity that somebody is broadening their horizons, gaining more skills, moving laterally in their whole holistic career means that they will circle back and on a side hustle note, we’ve got loads of lovely examples similar to Louisa, where we’ve had people come to us and say I have these, these, and these things I do but it comes back to that psychological safety in the first place, you need to be able to create an environment and we’re not there yet.



In some areas of the business, we need to evolve where people feel, they can come and say, you know I do that, or I’m interested in this. I would have liked almost to recruit this person to be involved with that thing, and have trust that that person is going to give you whatever they should have committed to doing in their contract, as well as whatever it is that profits them. There are an awful lot of the examples that I see in our organization where people have a side hustle, where it’s good for their wellness, and their well-being or it’s better for their family for supplementary income, but also for their mental health, then that means we get the best version of themselves. So I’m fully sponsor that.


Jonathan  O’Hagan  1:23:50

It’s a really good point, it comes back to that deal breaker aspects, this flexible working conditions, because it used to be almost the preserve of let’s say the semi retired to become a non exec or an advisor or have a

Julia Darvill  1:24:03

Very likely.


Jonathan  O’Hagan  1:24:04

Exactly, whereas now it’s much more commonplace for people much much earlier in their career and like you say, Jules, the motivations for doing it, the desire for doing it. It’s different. It’s not really income. Well, for some people, it’s not income related. It’s about diversity, it’s about enjoyment of the work, it’s about increasing your skill set and that’s good for both the employer and the individual. So it’s a fascinating one. I think, probably what we do know is going to become more and more commonplace, isn’t it? It’s going to accelerate. So how we adapt and to your point earlier our bias or unconscious bias, how we perceive it is going to continue to evolve, but I think I can confidently say it’s going to accelerate and it’s going to become more and more so when we ask our children what you want to be when you’re older? Policemen, firemen? No, it’s going to be, I’m going to do this then this and this and this. OK, which one? No all of it. I’m going to do all of it. All at the same time and why shouldn’t they?



Brilliant. This has been wonderful. Thank you guys. It’s interesting stuff, isn’t it? I don’t think we confidently can predict what the future looks like but there’s some really interesting things you’ve raised there. I think we should meet in 15 years’ time and review and we’ll give ourselves a score out of 10 and see how we do. So yes, 9:30 in 15 years’ time on this day.


Julia Darvill  1:25:29

In the diary.


Jonathan  O’Hagan  1:25:30

Thank you so much, guys. It’s been fascinating. Thanks for spending the time with me.


Julia Darvill  1:25:35

Thank you.



Jonathan  O’Hagan  1:25:35

Thanks very much.





Jonathan  O’Hagan  1:25:39

And there we go. That was a discussion on the future workplace. I thought that was fascinating. It’s always amazing talking to people like Jules and Louisa. People who are absolutely passionate about the future and as you heard from Jules, she’s working really hard. She wants to create a legacy for her children and the future workplace that is more inclusive, diverse. One with less barriers to entry, and Louisa are much the same. They’re both working really hard and thinking about this stuff every single day. So it’s really interesting to get their thoughts and opinions. I think one thing’s for sure that we’re still in a bit of a flux around the workplace, to companies need a physical head office, what’s the role of remote work? What does flexible working actually mean? There’s still an element of flux, the dust is yet to settle. I think what we do know is, as we look towards the future, this shift will be led by companies, it won’t be led by governments. I think it’ll be led by companies in their pursuit of the best talent. As we know, the best talent drives company performance and this, we get clear on what that talent looks like going into the future based on what jobs we need, companies will shape their strategy accordingly but certainly the workplace in itself, it will be as much about the experience you can offer employees. As I mentioned, in the show, it’s no longer a place of work, but an experience really, that will help you retain the best people attract the best people and it’s those companies that are thinking about it and working on that stuff. Now, the people coming into the workforce now are shaping what that future workplace looks like.



I think the other big takeaway for me is, there’s going to be an awful lot of jobs created through automation and AI, as I mentioned, some 97 million jobs are going to be created. That’s a huge opportunity for people to upskill, rescale and it’s those employees that help employees rescale, they’re going to be the winners. So again, how are companies supporting people to rescale for those jobs of the future? We don’t fully know exactly what those jobs are. Some of them we do but I think, again, it’s those early adopters, the ones that are thinking about this stuff will be the winners in the near future.



So yes, I hope you enjoyed that episode. I thought it was fascinating. There may well be a part 2, who knows, we may well revisit in 10 or 15 years to see how accurate we were on some of these topics. Finally, I just wanted to say a big thank you as well, for your lovely feedback I’ve had over the first couple of episodes, it really does make a difference. I do this because people give me feedback and they say it adds huge value to give an insight to business leaders, and what they’re going through how they’re tackling and what they’re thinking about uncertain topics. So thank you so much for the feedback. I’ll keep doing them as long as you’re getting value and stay tuned. We’ve got some really good topics coming up for the rest of the series.



Do subscribe if you’ve not done so already, so you get notified as soon as new episodes are released and thank you once again. We will be out with another episode very soon. Until next time, take care.