A Day in the Life: Revolution

In ‘A Day in the Life’ we reach out to thought leaders, business leaders and social entrepreneurs and ask them to share with us an average day in their working life.

This week we spoke to Rhona Hurcombe, UK head of marketing and communication at Oatly. Oatly is a food and beverage company from Sweden that makes oat-based drinks and products as an alternative to the dairy market.

A Day in the Life: Revolution

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What is in store for you today?

I’m off to Örebro in Sweden to visit one of the farms we work with there. Adam, the farmer, is a keen environmentalist, who believes that in order for food production to be sustainable, meat consumption must generally decrease.  With that in mind, he’s converting an increasing amount of land on his farm from lamb farming to the production of crops, and the results are inspiring. In one year, switching just an additional 14% of his land from animals to crops has yielded a three-fold increase in food production and halved greenhouse gas emissions. Eagle-eyed Oatly fans may have spotted our Old-Fashioned Oat Drink online last year – this is a very limited edition beverage, created from heritage oats grown on Adam’s farm. Because there’s so little of it made, it’s only been available in Sweden so far, but I’d love to get some into the UK – maybe as he continues to expand his crop production we’ll be able to. Fingers crossed… 

What does a typical working day look like?

OATSTANDING! It’s a cliché to say I don’t have a typical working day, but a cliché’s only a cliché because it’s true. My day will definitely include a lot of oat puns (have you seen the t-shirts on our website? Oat Couture! I’d like to take the credit for that one, but it was actually my colleague Jez who came up with it). Beyond that, it could be anything. Planning a new street mural campaign, meeting the team at Snapchat, tasting new products (like some seriously badass ice cream), visiting some of the awesome people we collaborate with – Gareth at Shoreditch Grind has made some delicious breakfast pots with our oat fraiche and custard, so checking in to see what’s cooking is always a treat. Then there are days when I’m 100% office based and writing furiously.

Are there any sort of personal rituals or routines that you have to undertake before you start work?

I like to drink a chocolate Oatly while in wheel pose. Actually that might be a pretty good ritual
for a hangover…

Yoga and breakfast is as ritualistic as I get, even if it’s only five minutes and a smoothie at my desk. If I have time, I’ll walk into work.  I make excellent themed playlists, and it gives me the chance for a bit of headspace – apart from the stretch around Liverpool Street, where, to remain upright, you need to bob and weave a LOT. Jack be nimble!

As a team, do you have any group rituals or events per day or week?

Hmm, you’ve seen the hypnosis wheel on the side of our packs, right?

We’re pretty normal. Probably the one constant is making sure we make time to sit down for a proper lunch. We eat together as a team as often as possible, and Boggle gets a regular outing. Thinking of starting a darts league – anyone in Shoreditch wants to take us on, let us know. Unfortunately, I’m cursed with an overly-developed sense of competition but terrible hand/eye coordination, so you’ll probably win (but I will thrash you at Boggle!)

When your team come together, is it in a digital sense, or is there still a physical meeting up?

We’re a small team in the UK, and all sit next to each other, so we talk things through face to face. For when we want to chat to the guys in Sweden, we do as much as possible by video link to cut down on air miles.

What projects have you currently got on, and what upcoming projects are exciting you?

We’re working to turn every good coffee shop on to the joys of a cappoatccino – it’s a mammoth task, but with 80% fewer greenhouse gases than cow’s milk in our oat drink, if we can get people to switch, we’ll have done a very good thing for the planet. Sampling is a massive part of that – when you can see that there’s no compromise in terms of taste and performance, the job becomes easier. So a lot of getting out and about – we’re on the look-out for some eco-friendly wheels.

I’m also super-excited to be talking to Forest Green Rovers – the world’s greenest football club – about working together. No concrete plans as yet, but watch this space…

How do you measure impact and successes, and how do you celebrate them?

Obviously, there are some very tangible ways of measuring success such as sales and new coffee shop recruits. But we get a lot of instant feedback via social media – we have a really engaged group of very honest fans. It’s brilliant to hear when they love what we’re doing, but they’re not shy of telling us if we mess up too. Transparency is important to us, as it should be to every company in 2017, so we don’t shy away from that.

For celebrations, try a vegan chocolate bomb: coconut rum, kahlua and chocolate Oatly shaken over ice and served in a martini glass. I defy you to drink only one.

What gets you through the day? (Any podcasts, activities, thoughts etc?)

Start Small, Start Somewhere’ is a key part of the Oatly ethos, and something I try to keep in mind, whatever I’m doing. One step at a time.

Podcasts: the excellent, engaging and eminently sensible Don’t Salt My Game; also Melanin Millennials – millennials get a bad name too often these days, but what I see is a lot of people getting off their arses and just doing stuff. It’s brilliant. Then when I feel mad at all the madness in the world, I find samanthabee.com incredibly cathartic and funny as hell.

I also have a fondness for snapping pictures of thought-provoking, hilarious or downright puerile #wordsonwalls

What are you currently reading?

IQ84 by Haruki Murakami: I love his brand of magic realism, though I know he just calls it realism. It’s a beautiful idea that reality could actually be that much more magical.

I’m also reading Jess Phillips’ Everywoman – One Woman’s Truth About Speaking the Truth. I bloody love this woman, funny and fierce, encouraging us all to be more outspoken when it matters, and it nearly always matters. Inspirational. I’d urge all women to read this, and Bridget Christie’s A Book For Her too.

What’s your Ethos?

Maybe best summed up by this song: Try a Little Kindness by Glenn Campbell. It may be a bit cheesy, but it’s feel-good and the message is spot on, and it brings back happy memories of my late, much-missed mum. It’s also great to sing along to really loudly, so I’m pretty sure my neighbours have learned to love it too. Why wouldn’t they?

And finally, suggest a better title for this feature.

I wouldn’t presume! But if we’re going Beatles song titles, maybe ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’?  But I’m going to go with ‘Revolution’!


Read more about Oatly here; https://ethos-magazine.com/2016/12/simply-oatly/

Oatly Official website; http://www.oatly.com/

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