Food Manufacture Excellence Awards

Be true to yourself: Mollie Harvey on taking home the Future Talent award

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Mollie Harvey took home the Future Talent award at this year's Food Manufacture Excellence Awards
Mollie Harvey took home the Future Talent award at this year's Food Manufacture Excellence Awards

Related tags Food manufacture excellence awards

Future Talent Award winner Mollie Harvey talks to Food Manufacture about her career with coffee roaster Lincoln & York and what it means for her to have taken home the prize at this year’s Food Manufacture Excellence Awards.

“I have been with Lincoln & York for coming up to two years, so I started off here in 2022 and before that, I was at Starbucks for two years,”​ explains Harvey. “I started falling in love with coffee a little bit, but I wasn't so keen on the customer service side of things.

“So, I came here and they​ [Lincoln & York] put me on apprenticeship because I had the coffee knowledge but never worked in an office. I started doing business administration, which I finished in September/October and since then I've just been progressing further – my title will be changing soon from coffee apprentice.”

Since joining Lincoln & York, Harvey has demonstrated her determination to learn and improve in her role and has shown a keen talent for developing blends for the business.  

I'm the kind of person that likes to be on the go all the time, I like to be learning new things,”​ shea adds. “I don't like just sitting still doing the same thing every day and this role was kind of the epitome of that.

Always learning

“It's the kind of industry where you can never know everything. There are always developments – whether it's political, economic or just in general – there's always something new to learn and things that I do every day, they're so different.

“And the people you surrounded by in coffee is, everyone's so different and everyone's got a very different base of knowledge.”

While still relatively early in her career, Harvey has already started to take on some responsibility when it comes to buying and developing new lines for Lincoln & York. She also demonstrates a keen understanding of how the market works.

“I'm not into buying loads at the minute – I'm very top line, just learning about it and I've bought little bits here and there,”​ says Harvey. “But obviously the price of coffee is completely driven by factors like the new RFA ​[Rainforest Alliance] legislation, the European Deforestation regulation.

“It all plays a factor in what coffee we give to people, the price of coffee that we're buying and it's all very relevant and it impacts in ways that you wouldn't even think of it impacting. Say for example, the new RFA rules – previously a coffee could be 30% RFA, a blend and then it could be classed RFA. Now that has to be 90%, so that's been a big change for us.”

Age and wisdom

Speaking about her age relative to the rest of the industry, Harvey understands that she still has a ways to go. With this in mind, she looks to her peers for inspiration to help further her career.

“I've met so many people along the way,”​ Harvey continues. “In terms of the coffee industry I'm very young, so meeting such a wide range of people with different types of knowledge, I've taken so much from every single one of them.

“The team here that I work with is so supportive and they're constantly pushing me to take new opportunities and to be the best that I can. That's been a huge influence on me.

“I've definitely had my challenges. I've had to put myself out there and prove myself a lot more than someone a bit older would have. It's been hard to get to that point, but I’m there.”

What makes a winner?

Commenting on her award win, Harvey was thankful for the strong feedback given by the judges.

“So, something that I got a lot of feedback about after the interview and at the awards was that my personality came through and I wasn't scripted,”​ says Harvey.

“I’m customer facing some days and that's where I really get to let my personality come through and talk about something that I'm passionate about to people that are interested. That's a huge thing for me – people say all the time that I talk a lot but obviously that's what got me here!

“On a personal level, if you speak to anyone that knows me, I've always started off being very quiet, very shy. Confidence is something I've had to learn. So, it's been a little boost for me, kind of like, ‘yeah, I can do it’.”

Winning at this year's Food Manufacture Excellence Awards has also been a great boost for Lincoln & York as well. As Harvey tells it, it’s given the business a level of credibility and shows that it invests in the future – something it has done since the days she started working for them.

Of course, Harvey was quietly confident that her name was going to be called on the night: “I thought to myself, ‘there's some big names here, but I still think I've got it’, because I knew that I'd been genuine and I knew I had the personality that I brought forward.

Quietly confident

“Yeah, I was a little bit confident, but I think because we're quite a small business – especially compared to some of the companies that were there​ [at the awards] – it was a bit of a shock!”

On what makes a winner, Harvey’s biggest advise to the next generation of food and drink manufacturing talent is to be yourself.

“Obviously, that's what got me to where I am,”​ she proclaims. “I always thought it was about what you know and what you do and putting that side of yourself forward – but it's not.

It's just being yourself and being authentic, but also taking every opportunity you possibly can. Even to the point where, for example, if my boss invites me to a meeting I'll say yes, just getting myself out as much as I can learning all the time – even if it's something that I don't necessarily know if I'm going to need or be interested in. I still take it because it's something that I could use.

No journey is without its challenges though. For Harvey, age has been the biggest hurdle during her time in the coffee industry. But like any hurdle, this can be cleared when supported by a business interested in her career and wellbeing.

“It's a very flexible, very nice kind of company to work for and everyone's been very welcoming,”​ she explains. “It has just been the case of establishing myself here and kind of getting myself known that I do know a little bit even though I am young.

Into the future

Looking ahead, Harvey’s schedule is looking very full. This month will see her attend the London Coffee Festival for the second time, in which she will be helping to celebrate Lincoln & York’s 30th​ anniversary.

“Now that I'm a bit more established in the industry and I know what I'm doing a little bit more, I'm excited to attend that,”​ she adds. “Last year I was a little bit more reserved because it was my first time, but now I've had that boost that I needed and I'm ready for it.

“In the longer term, I'll be going for my Q grading at the end of this year, which is the next step for me and then after that it'll be trips to origin from a corporate social responsibility kind of side.

“It puts us out there, puts us in contact with producers, potentially doing some projects with them. And in terms of awards in the future, yeah, definitely. I could see myself doing a few, but I'm not sure about the specifics.”

But what is the best part about working for Lincoln & York. For Harvey, that’s definatly the team she is part of – a team that was more excited about her winning the Future Talent award than she was!

“I'd say my team here, definitely their support has been absolutely amazing,”​ Harvey concludes. “On the night when they said my name, I think my team were more excited than me! They literally jumped up and they were so excited. So yeah, them because it they constantly giving me the opportunities to develop and it's never a boring day.

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