Episode #30: Alison Ward - Tackling issues from cocoa to cotton

16 April 2019

Alison Ward

In this episode, I talk to Alison Ward. Alison is the chief executive of Cotton Connect, a social enterprise with a mission to transform the cotton industry for good, and former head of sustainability with Cadbury.

In this interview, we talk how she got to where she is and some of the issues that she dealt with along the way. We talk about how industries face up to the fundamental challenges to their sector that increasingly emerge in the modern age, and how companies practically get into their supply chains to make things better on the ground.

Alison has a huge amount of hands-on experience in tackling difficult issues with some inspiring companies, and I think you’ll get a huge amount from this interview.

Show notes

What did the world look like to the young Alison when she left school and looked ahead to adult life? (1:35)

The first steps after graduating (4:26)

The move to a small PR agency, starting at the bottom (6:57)

The value of a no-blame culture (8:40)

The move to Hill & Knowlton, and first starting to deal with food sector issues (10:20)

Getting deeper into issues like child labour in food production (15:05)

Joining Cadbury as the company was poised to focus more on CSR and supply chains (19:30)

How the work in Cadbury’s cocoa supply chain unfolded (22:32)

Cadbury’s push of Fairtrade across its mainstream products (26:42)

The change that came when Kraft launched its takeover bid for Cadbury (29:37)

The mission of Cotton Connect (33:08)

Alison’s personal purpose (37:08)

What’s one practical change Alison would like to change before hanging up her gloves (37:50)

Advice Alison would give to her younger self (38:50)

An impressive change maker Alison has been inspired by (39:15)

Mistakes Alison has made that led to a better outcome or personal growth (39:42)

A habit Alison would like to change (40:02)

A book that influenced Alison’s thinking (40:33)

Advice Alison would give to young would-be change makers starting out (41:15)




Alison on twitter https://twitter.com/alisoncward

Cotton Connect on twitter https://twitter.com/Cotton_Connect

Cotton Connect website http://cottonconnect.org


The Icarus Deception, Seth Godin https://www.amazon.co.uk/Icarus-Deception-How-High-Will/dp/0670922927/ref=sr_1_1

Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek https://www.amazon.co.uk/Leaders-Eat-Last-Together-Others/dp/0670923176/