Vertical Farming, ESG & Leadership

Hosted by

Clare Nasir

Podcast manager

Guest Speakers

James Lloyd-Jones

CEO & Founder of The Jones Food Company

Sybille Schiffmann

MD at Deostara Leadership Consultancy

Niall O'Shea

MD, Discern Sustainability Limited

In the episode of the Cultivating Conversations Podcast, Clare speaks to James Lloyd Jones, the CEO & Founder of The Jones Food Company who are looking to find alternative ways of producing food through vertical farming,

Clare also speaks to Niall O'Shea, the Managing director of Discern Sustainability Limited, who work with leading investors to consult to help with Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG), as well top-level leadership consultant, Sybille Schiffmann of Deostara ltd who has extensive experience working with senior executives, boards and extended leadership teams.

The Full Conversation


Clare Nasir [00:00:02] Hello. Welcome to Cultivating Conversations. This episode, we go high octane with James Lloyd Jones, CEO and founder of UK based Vertical Farm, the Jones Food Company. He's a man with vision.


James Lloyd-Jones [00:00:18] Lots of us farms grow a premium product for premium pricing, which is fine. I want a Rolls Royce product sold at BW Prices Ambition. Within the business, there's one side projects. How do we all make this better? How do we grow this better? How do we get more support on how do we get more customers? If you had 15 large scale virtual farms in the UK, you probably take away all info.


Clare Nasir [00:00:42] Occasionally outspoken.


James Lloyd-Jones [00:00:43] If you're building your business on subsidy, you're building it on like a life support machine that can never be switched off and successful.


Clare Nasir [00:00:51] James has shown the world how vertical farmers can make the leap from Start-Up to scale up. Adding perspective to the conversation is ESG expert Niall O’Shea.


Niall O’Shea [00:01:02] With all the excitement, some might even say hype about vertical farming, alternative protein and so on. We should remember that the strengths of the incumbents are huge. Conventional industrial agriculture has 100 years of innovation refinements eking out of efficiencies and costs. So for all its grain side effects, there are many. That system. Nevertheless, it feeds the world today. That's the reality.


Clare Nasir [00:01:28] And top level leadership consultant Sybille Schiffman.


Sybille Schiffman [00:01:32] What do we need from business leaders in agricultural technology and bioscience? The ability to look at what seem to be the most intractable problems for our society, to look at them and do something that. Bob, you had some calls dilemma flipping and that means looking at these instead of saying no, nothing can be done here. Seek out what is the opportunity here and also be courageous enough to say I am not going to work with the existing market. I'm going to create a market from the bottom up and cultivated sustainably with the input of others.


Clare Nasir [00:02:10] This is cultivating conversations and I'm Clare Nasir.  Let's dive into my conversation with James Lloyd Jones and the creation of his vertical farm business. James, thank you very much for joining me today. The big question really on my lips is that you must have such width and depth and breadth of experience to go from creating something which obviously was a start-up to now the largest vertical farm in Europe.


James Lloyd-Jones [00:02:48] I think trying quite hard is one of the things a professional try. Since I left school at just over 16. But probably the serious answer is it really does come to a number of things I've done in the past that have got to the point. I've been thinking about vertical farming before I even started about seven years. I'm seriously, seriously making notes in the notebook and things like that. But I've been involved in property development and rental sale. I then branched into because I didn't like working for people, so then went into renewable energy, building large scale solar farms and wind turbines. I then went back into property again, working for someone. I thought, No, I don't want to do this. So I look through my notebooks and vertical farming has the notes in it, and I took the decision to effectively leave a very easy, cushy life, effectively a lovely, lovely life, enjoying all the benefits that came with it. I moved back in with my parents and spend a year researching, full time designing and then building the first farm we had to stencil, which was the largest in Europe. I think it's now been overtaken. So you're very kind in saying that. But we're now building the largest in the world down in Gloucestershire.


Clare Nasir [00:03:59] So have you got a background in any type of farming or is this the newest sorts of elements to your portfolio today?


James Lloyd-Jones [00:04:07] No background in farming. I don't like getting told. I don't like I say muddy. I love tractors, but you need to farm to have one. I don't have one. I went to an agricultural boarding school for about two terms from central London and realised it wasn't a life for me. So no, no background. I think that's what's actually given the benefit to the vertical farm, because I didn't come with any preconceptions, I didn't know how to grow anything. I thought, well, isn't this the right thing to do? Rather than something going, Well, that's not how we do it. You know, I'm not interested in how you do it. Shouldn't we do it in a different way? And vertical farms our way of building big factories. So the Scunthorpe site was genuinely the first site I've ever built. You know, if you do a stepping stone like a container, then it grows and then build bigger. You think you're doing amazing all the way through, but you'll take years to do it. Whereas I'd rather do something big and work it out, you know, make the machine work rather than these stepping stones, which I think in Britain we are we're fantastic coming out with fantastic ideas. We're really bad at taking the rest of the world and then some around the world and see it's an American and Chinese company. A European company then by that very good idea and then make it big. So I thought, no, I'm going to do it. James Dyson or the Auntie Bamford who owns JCB and go, I'm going to build it and then we will make it work.


Clare Nasir [00:05:29] That's so impressive. And to be honest, you know, you have got a lot of vision because the world of technology has absolutely accelerated through the last decade, and particularly for you when it comes to LED lights, which you wouldn't have been able to create what you do now 15 years ago.


James Lloyd-Jones [00:05:46] Yeah, I think the price of LCD lights came down massively. Don't get me wrong, is still expensive. When we're paying bills, I'm thinking, Oh, they still come down that much. But in reality they have. But hydroponics isn't new. You know, it's been around since the Babylonians 2009, when the Fukushima disaster happened in Japan. Japan took off with vegetable bombs, but they put a a real value on food. In the UK we have the sixth cheapest food in the world and some of the highest regulation and in the population. Any real value, you know, thanks to the likes of Jeremy Clarkson's farm general population, know that farming is a little bit hard. You know, it's not low rich farmers for there are but you know there's a lot of poor farmers by doing vertical farming actually just shorten the supply chain. Not so I'm not selling you the dream that we're going to beat world hunger. You know, it's you know, we already produce enough food for the population. It's going to be greater than 2050, which is enough food in the world, 10 billion people already. But we're very good at it. Wasting food. So vertical Fonzo is we're not not producing for the future. We are of course we're just becoming more efficient how we produce it. I'm shortening the wastage so we can get it from me to you within 24 hours.


Clare Nasir [00:07:01] So your vertical farm, the first one you built, the largest in Europe at the time near Scunthorpe, which is just in North Lincolnshire, which has a huge farming community. You know, you're placed quite well when it comes to all those skills that you need to grow.


James Lloyd-Jones [00:07:17] Yeah, none of which were used in Turkey. No one in Scunthorpe had any background in farming. We had people that spent time. People that have put bus shelters and bike shelters around the UK. We had guys from Latvia, Lithuania who were cleaners. We had printers. No one actually knew how to seat anything, but that was probably the best way of doing it, rather than a storm coming in and go, Well, that's how we do things and not having that ambition. Whereas I'm always when people tap you round the shoulder and say, Wow, that's an amazing amount of produce you kicked out, you know, half a ton a day. That's great. But who cares, you know? When can we get to 600 kilos? 700 kilos? Because we don't know the sorts of limitations that farmers are used to. I'm always like, Well, okay, we're here, but why can't we be there? And we haven't found that point yet. And that's mainly because failing is part of learning. And what if you fail faster, you learn quicker, and you can then ensure that you're pushing the boundaries. And that's why the US have a real head on, on the UK, in the UK. If you have one failure, you are a failure and it takes 510 years to lick your wounds in the US. This is huge learning. So you go first coupons in the US, one of which is a company called Plenty who put out a press release saying, Look, we changed 14 times. So you did that in the UK. Once you changed this third time, you had no funding. That's why we've just gone right. We've kept it very quiet and ensured that we're always trying to learn from our failures.


Clare Nasir [00:08:54] You are amazing. I really want to read the book that you will eventually write because I think you'll be an inspiration to so many entrepreneurs. And one particular thing that I've learnt through doing these interviews is scaling up is such a scary prospect for so many start-ups the cost involved in particular is absolutely gruesome when you start so small. So as you say, you've just let you go and we are going for this. Where does your money come from? Is there that much interest in vertical farming when it comes to investments?


James Lloyd-Jones [00:09:24] There's a huge amount of interest in farming, mainly driven by ESG policies of funds and things. But is it all greenwashing and effectively lots of funds grow a premium product for premium pricing, which is fine. For instance, Harrods have one store in the world on their premium. AMI That's why people want to go. Sainsbury's have 5000 stores in the UK and that's where everyone goes. So I'd rather be the Sainsbury's in Skye where we produce a premium product that price point everyone can afford. So I just want to be the Sainsbury's, I want to be the VW and I want to be Rolls-Royce. I want a Rolls Royce product. So the VW prices and the scaling, the only way vertical farming gets to the point of scale and is let's be taken seriously is to be scalable within an industry, the supply chain of food, and then we can be a real contender. And that's what we're doing. That's why we're forcing ourselves to build more is capacity intensive. But now people are seeing it. See, maybe three or four years ago, why don't we ask you about this? This is all component parts. Now that you've developed, you know, you can sit back a little now you can sit back a car. Why can't you sit back a vertical farm? It's just a big machine is a plant factory. And so that is going to allow us to scale quicker 100%. And by scaling, you actually de-risk the business. It's not a scare away like food or get. So these guys, without having to scale and costs themselves to win business with us, we're building a factory. Then them, believe it or not, produce is a product that you sell and then once you get the money from selling it, it sort pays it all back. If you have one problem in one factory, you've got the factories to mop up. The mess, as it were, or fill the void is probably the best way of pushing it. So.


Clare Nasir [00:11:28] So scaling with vigour is central to his business plan. Yet, despite admitting to a lack of practical knowledge of farming when he first began, what James was armed with was an invaluable understanding of ESG investment. And his timing perhaps was also spot on. Here's Niall O'Shea, managing director at Discern Sustainability.


Niall O’Shea [00:11:52] It is impossible for investors to win business in these markets these days without a strong ESG story. And that's what really marks a sort of a sea change from the past. However, there are values, in my view. Cries of greenwashing abound. So what this means for vertical farming is that unless it performs horribly, it is likely to be a beneficiary of the greenwashing backlash because its environmental benefits are essentially not in dispute. The story is quite clear. However, it's not all hydroponically grown roses. It remains a hard area to invest in for several reasons. The biggest pure play vertical farming company is valued at not even, I think, $1 billion, which sounds like a lot, but actually it makes it very small for large investors, those ones that tends to crunch the greatest ways in terms of growing markets overall. They're almost entirely privately owned. There are a few listed ones, but most of them are privately owned. And this means that the big institutional investors would end up owning a large slice of an illiquid investment, which increases their risk. They can't just set up the flick of a keystroke at the first sign of use. Actually, there are investors out there who are a very good match for vertical farming in terms of their risk appetite, how long they're willing to hold the stock. This type of investment, I would say, is much better suited to specialist investors like venture capital, private equity. They can hold companies for five years. They can kind of withstand ebbs and flows of markets and be a long time. And indeed, some of these players and some of them are clients they've set up on a cold impact funds to house these sort of high sustainability alpha companies.


Clare Nasir [00:13:34] So the investment interest is ripe. But what about retail response? Let's go back to James. Talking of Sainsbury's and other major supermarkets, have they signed on to your product? Obviously I think their remit has certainly changed even in the last couple of years of producing much more shelf space, they meatless meats etc. and big and sustainably produced food. But are your products classed as organic? If you got that seal of approval from those commitments.


James Lloyd-Jones [00:14:05] It's interesting that you say, do we have a seal of approval because it's organic. Organic is, I think, a bit of a fallacy. You know, you can have organic produce, but if you knew some of the stuff that goes on, is it really organic? I don't know. I don't work in those worlds and I've got no reason to comment on it. And we trade beyond organic because we can't be called organic because we don't grow in the soil and the soil association give out the organic stems. We are truly no pesticides. We are ready to eat. We've got no soil that should got very low microbial. How does the retailer see it? To be honest, retailers buy on price. That's it. We went with two very, very interesting companies. We are effectively the growers. So we build factories, grow food that then goes to a packet and then goes into the retailer. Now, these guys won't be buying all of us if we weren't at the right price. We work in a commoditized market. You have to be at a price that everyone can afford. We built big factories to produce the product that everyone can afford. And it's not just leafy greens and herbs. You know, the industry is moving soft fruits, top flowers, all sorts of things so that you become part of a supply chain. If you have 15 large scale farms in the UK, you probably take away all import. So they're hugely fantastic at producing lots and lots of whites and a very sustainable way. But the retailers pay a premium. No, because it's cheaper for them to import. And will the UK public pay a premium? No, not really. Not anyone outside London or Bristol or maybe Manchester. You know, I'm not selling you a story. I'm sending you a product that is nutritionally valuable, that can be on your plate within 24 hours. That's it.


Clare Nasir [00:15:54] Okay. So you can choose what you grow, as you say, and that's diversifying all the time. I presume that your products aren't sensitive to season because it's all enclosed. What is the biggest food that we import when it comes to vegetables or beyond that? And is that something that you want to almost corner the market in the UK? I'll give you an example. Avocados. So yeah. Is that something that you would be interested in farming and producing? And then could you therefore then match the price of the ones that we import from thousands of miles away? Because they have they're quite controversial avocados. They seem to have a a massive environmental footprint associated with them.


James Lloyd-Jones [00:16:31] Look, we can corner herbs, leafy greens now, you know, within the next two or three years, that's a big tick. Let's start with that. I can do growing turnips, radishes, cut flowers, vines, all sorts. It's all comes down to scale. It's like the Amazon model. You cannot have a small distribution centre selling at a low price. You need a big distribution and then you need loads of them. We've got a really exciting R&D facility down in Bristol and that's doing everything that you want to talk about. Avocados. We're not doing I don't like avocados. I think avocado in size is horrible and so is not for me. So we just don't do it by there, in all seriousness. So fruits is something that we're really targeting. Cut flowers. Cut flowers is, you know, leafy greens and herbs is 600 million and UK cut flowers is 2 billion. So let's go after that one. And that's what we're working on at the moment. And then halts, you know, anything where you have huge seasonality which affects the quality and sort of the specifications we can go after. But again, by doing it at scale is the way you bring your price point down so anyone can use the product so you produce.


Clare Nasir [00:17:46] Well, it's about something like, say, pea protein, which has been in the news a lot because obviously it's a brilliant ingredient.


James Lloyd-Jones [00:17:53] Fantastic.


Clare Nasir [00:17:54] For creating your face. And you know, if you look at what's happened, the wildfires in Canada, they produce a lot of pea protein. I mean, and climate change impacts have really devastated farming across the world when it comes to this type of crop, which is just going through the roof in demand.


James Lloyd-Jones [00:18:09] Well, we haven't looked at pea protein specifically. The UK is very good at growing pains. We grow a lot of peas and then harvest them in a two week period and then put them into code. So now the question is, are we affecting the environment by storing these peas in cold, still using a lot of energy? A long time. What we're looking at is mushrooms, effectively mushrooms, protein and fats similar to peas, soy stuff like that. You can grow mushrooms very cheaply. I think where we should be having the conversation is soy. Soy production so impactful on the environment, you know, rainforests being cut down, moving soy around the world. But peas we're very good at in the UK. Climate change is not something that affects vegetable farms. If anything, we can be very mercenary and with longer sunny days we can run with more renewable energy. Well, we have less wind, but solar and battery is becoming more prevalent in the UK and that compounds vertical farms and allow the fields and to rest or take away, say, products. We grow from field grown and allow peas to be grown in that place.


Clare Nasir [00:19:17] You talk about your skills base and the fact that you can bring any of the farming community into your business. But I presume you've got a lot of analysts, people using AI. You talk about your R&D plans in Bristol, so you're pushing the boundaries all the time to actually reduce growth cycle, increase productivity, etc.. So what type of skills are you looking to bring into your business?


James Lloyd-Jones [00:19:39] So we do have the machine learning guys. I always got mistaken. I always said, AI guys, it turns out machine learning that makes no we gain these. So I blame Will Smith for that.


Clare Nasir [00:19:53] Yes. ML I And there's a lot about what Mario.


James Lloyd-Jones [00:19:56] Is because of that and they ruin the job descriptions. But yeah, so what we're really pushing on is actually partly the engineering so that we use water and energy far better. We've got some really good backers, one of which is one of our investors is a Cardoso. They have very good automation. And then we've got home the energy. We're very good at large battery storage. You said this is in the UK, so they advise us on our energy and we got some exciting people to talk about in the future as well that are already helping us now, but we can't talk about now. But they are helping us crack the energy. Anyone, this is practical. What you want the practical people to do, the growing and people that aren't fearful trying rather someone try. I then go James, that didn't work. Then go. We didn't do it. Why not? All because we didn't want to be told of it. So we've employs lots of very, very bright people who completely. I've got fantastic person up at Scunthorpe who's who's 22. She's got a first class degree in chemistry and chrome production. And I think her background is she was from a military family and actually not the degrees. The exciting bit is the military family. She's very independent. She knows how to get around. So she's now 22, effectively running the system and drawing things because she's not scared to try, fail, learn and she's been fantastic. So those and so people we employ. So.


Clare Nasir [00:21:32] One of the reasons why I wanted to interview James is that his leadership skills shine through his. Sibila Schiffman, founding director of Diego Strep, a leadership consultancy. I asked her, what are the leadership qualities that drive a business with a sustainable remit to financial success?


Sybille Schiffman [00:21:53] I'm going to draw on the work of Ed Sarasvati, who did some really interesting research into 27 expert entrepreneurs, and they were founders of businesses that had turnovers ranging from 200 million up to six and a half billion. And she discovered that there were some key mindsets or approaches that informed their decision making and our five principles. She came up with the principles of a situation that support a Start-Up to enable it to be established and to build fast. The first principle is the bird in the hand, and I think this is really critical and it really relates to James Lloyd Jones, this idea of starting with who I am, what I know and who I know, so who I am. It's a deep question. It's about what's my purpose, what are what are my bodies, what do I believe in? And so really, that passion for sustainability is absolutely core. It's what will drive you through all those dark days and problems. The idea of what I know is his expertise. So he started, didn't he, as an expert in renewable energy and also knew about the investment climate for agricultural investment. And so being able to, if you like, build on that and then who might know is about the network. So he literally started to catalyse those investment opportunities in order to build his unique farm. The next principle is this idea of affordable loss entrepreneurs. They won't go for a big bang investment, all or nothing. They will literally work gradually and invest what they can afford to lose. And even if it doesn't come good, they get the learning from that harvest and move on with that. The next one is about lemonade principle, and I think James is such a great example of this. He's actually looking at what our intractable problems for the 21st century agriculture, food production, food waste, and he's turning them on their heads and going, This is an opportunity. I'm working with these ideas as entrepreneurial ideas. So it's it's this idea of being opportunistic, if you like. The final two is about your network, this idea of building a patchwork quilt. An entrepreneur will work with his stakeholders earlier on might be suppliers, investors, partners and even customers, and literally grow and cultivate the market together. They co-create the market as opposed to see market out there. They really are disrupting in that sense markets. And the final idea that you can see in his 14 years before he became an overnight success, to quote him, is this idea about being the pilot in your plane. So you focus on what's within your control and you create the outcomes that you're determining as opposed to saying that the future's out there and predictable. If the future is not predictable, as we know, and it's what we can make us. So they are the kind of qualities for expert entrepreneurs like James.


Clare Nasir [00:24:46] And James is looking for like-minded people to share his vision and drive.


James Lloyd-Jones [00:24:51] If you come to me and say, I've got this skill, I'll get it right. That will help. But are you a good fit in the company? Do you want to actually make a difference? Do you want to? I'm not going to be so mad that you want to change the world, but due to do something that's impactful. Well, yes. Okay. Well, that's more interesting to me than, you know, being able to be a nuclear physicist. So it's a thing I don't need that. I need someone who wants to change things.


Clare Nasir [00:25:16] I love that about your company because you're really nurturing a real true spirit, which is Gen Z, which is where we have to go. There is no way back now. And if you look at how technologies are disrupting, how industry is disrupting agriculture, it's always been on the back burner, but that is going in the same direction. I've learnt that more and more so by talking to people like myself, and you need to surround yourself by like-minded people that you want to go in the same direction.


James Lloyd-Jones [00:25:41] Like-Minded and people that challenge you. So maybe I should employ more farmers to tell me I'm doing it wrong. That's 22, I think. And then all these guys are in their sixties and they built like satellite technology. You know, it's that there's a real understanding by Gen Z of climate change. You know, climate change is positively for us. If you look at financiers, they've been privately funding coal. Nuclear and renewables is on the up. We'll use climate change as a way of accelerating vertical farming. I think that's important, but we're not going to hit everyone over the head. But the Gen Z guys that we have coming through, they want to make a change. You know, they don't all want to work for Google on half a million quid a year selling a lot of advertisment or service. We can afford to pay them well, but they make a real difference because what they do now, and it all comes back down to making stakes, what they do, if they make it right, we implement it straightaway. And there's no right or wrong at the moment. You forget in the UK we we're very innovative, we're very good at doing stuff. And, you know, we're world leaders in renewable energy only.


Clare Nasir [00:26:54] Do you think the Government is supporting organisations like yourself with regulation and how they have done? The farmers just so know. No.


James Lloyd-Jones [00:27:05] But I don't care for it because actually farming in the US, the vertical farms get subsidy which I think mad you know is, you know, if you're building your business on subsidy, you're building it on like a life support machine that can never be switched off. So no, the UK Government having supported a subsidy, we've never had an innovate UK. I've never had a grant. Best thing ever done is just not getting our way. We know what we need to do if we want a food system which is reliant on short term. So being able to grow and deliver to the customer to truly cut out food waste, you've got to be big business where everything is. Margins say you're 5%, 10%. So I want I want you guys to eat my product so you have less food waste, so you have a higher nutritional value. Now, if you subsidise that, I might as well not worry about getting it to you because I'm getting paid anyway, naturally. But climate change, I'm going to grow something with renewable energy and get it to you without any food waste. Food waste is a third largest global CO2 emitter after China and America is now appalling. You know, no one talks about food waste, no one. And it comes down to education. Stop wasting food. People should buy food and understand. When you open the fridge and take was fridge, put it in the bin. It's got use by use it do something but you know that's that's away from vertical farming. I can only help get the food to you quicker so that you can eat a healthier, fresher product, and so you're less likely to throw it away.


Clare Nasir [00:28:40] One of the things I would love to know is would you ever sell your company for a huge amount of money, save on a multinational?


James Lloyd-Jones [00:28:49] Well, I can answer that quicker than that. I'm already a majority investor, is a multinational company.


Clare Nasir [00:28:56] Right.


James Lloyd-Jones [00:28:57] I don't need to know. I don't need to know now if I need to sell the company. I rather you know, everyone needs to wait. That's a fact of life. So they're all going to be longest, best performing companies in the world or large parts of large agricultural companies like Cargill. So I'm already owned by multinationals, so I'm okay at the moment. And I just want to, you know, the more we build, like I said earlier in the interview, the more we build, the more it becomes the norm, the more it becomes sustainable. Let me do that for a bit. I'm too young to sell.


Clare Nasir [00:29:34] Creating a business that has the right green credentials is one thing, but competing with cheaper mass produce imports is another. This is where scaling is so important to create a more robust and competitive farm to fork strategy. Another tick for the Jones Food Company. But perhaps there is a final piece in this business model that carries significant weight. Here's Niall O'Shea.


Niall O’Shea [00:29:58] We should remember that the strengths of the incumbents are huge. Conventional industrial agriculture. Well, it has 100 years of innovation, refinements, speaking of efficiencies and costs. So for all its great side effects and there are many that system, nevertheless, it feeds the world today. That's the reality. So the way I tend to see vertical farming and what I'd advise clients on is that it is one of an arsenal of techniques that will have to be deployed to transform agriculture. But what we've also seen with many of those especially highly technological solutions is that the contexts, the conditions in which technologies like vertical farming really make a difference, they're quite specific, and that applies the structural break to the scalability of vertical farming. It works extremely well in the Netherlands, a high density small country which is technologically very advanced. Kicks off will be the Middle East when you consider the conditions there. It's, of course, arid it gets huge amounts of solar energy. And energy is a key part of the model for vertical farming. Also, of course, there's restraints on water. The water is recycled in a closed loop in for farming. And the fact that these countries will also already be paying a premium for importing these fresh fruit and vegetables into the country. So that means that they can afford to have a more expensive vertical farming model than would be viable, for example, in the United States or in Western Europe. There is that extra bit of headroom for them in the economic model to make that work for them. And so when you consider the United Arab Emirates places like these, you can well envisage how they can become more self-sufficient through productive units of vertical farming attached to their buildings, the hotels, etc., etc.. So I think that's a very good example of where if the conditions are right, it probably represents the ideal, the best scenario. So locality is everything going forward.


Clare Nasir [00:32:04] What qualities does a business leader need to sustain excellence? Final thoughts from Sybille Schiffman at Deostara


Sybille Schiffman [00:32:12] It's such a great question. How do you sustain business excellence? And I think for James and people like him, the answer lies not just with him exclusively. It lies in creative solutions. Being flexible about how he moves forward with this business, but also innovation is critical. Otherwise his business will die. And who can leverage that innovation? Well, actually, his amazing staff network partnerships, that's where the creative solutions, if you like, can be cultivated. And if he, through his staff, can create space for them to come up with great ideas, try them out, repeat that kind of entrepreneurial thought process. He'll start to leverage that creativity. And Daniel Pink talks about what motivates us in his book Cold Drive. And what motivates us is autonomy. So give people free rein to experiment, to try things out. Mastery. We want to get skilled. We want to really improve things. It's a real drive for us is excellence. But the final one, and this links to the sustainability agenda and it's no accident the kind of people have come around him. They're equally committed to the agenda. It's about enabling people to work with purpose and to create things that they know will have a lasting impact beyond their time in the organisation.


Clare Nasir [00:33:29] Thoughts for the future. This is what James had to say.


James Lloyd-Jones [00:33:33] Until you get I feel we're really positive and we say there's no need for other side projects within the business. There's one side projects. How do we all make this better? How do we grow this better? How do we get more help or how do we get more customers? If you're thinking anyone successful, that guys, I'm really successful, so I'm going to assign projects. Hey, you're missing out on something you shouldn't be doing in your business. So I've got five, ten more years of internal side projects to keep you busy.


Clare Nasir [00:34:05] Well, that's just really inspiring. And you know what, James? It's great. What? You've got so much energy you really have, and I'm sure you work everyone really hard as well, even though I know it's an inspiring environment, it's like that is high octane.


James Lloyd-Jones [00:34:18] I rather get a speeding ticket in the fast lane and it's slowly.


Clare Nasir [00:34:22] James Lloyd Jones, thank you so much for your time. Really appreciate it. And I will be watching with interest to see what you do next.


James Lloyd-Jones [00:34:29] Lovely to speak to.


Clare Nasir [00:34:31] James Lloyd Jones, founder and CEO of Jones Food Company. My sincere thanks for his honest, energised and inspiring conversation. My thanks also to industry experts Niall O’Shea from Design Sustainability and Sybille Schiffman from Deostara. For more information on their organisations, go to Chase and Global Dotcom. And there you will find also more podcasts in this series. I'm Clancy and you've been listening to Cultivating Conversations.