Q&A

CREATIVE CONVERSATIONS: Ben Greensmith, UK country manager, Tony’s Chocolonely

By Anthony Myers contact

- Last updated on GMT

CREATIVE CONVERSATIONS: Ben Greensmith, UK country manager, Tony’s Chocolonely

Related tags: Creative Conversations

Ben Greensmith’s, AKA ‘Lord Chocolonely iii’, son thinks he has ‘the best job in the world’, running the UK business of Dutch ethical brand Tony’s Chocolonely. After eight years at Innocent Drinks, Ben jumped at the chance to join the company. ‘For it me was the chance to come and create something really exciting and special,’ he says.

Name:​  Ben Greensmith

Job title:​  UK Country Manager – ‘Lord Chocolonely iii’

Company:​  Tony’s Chocolonely

Website: https://tonyschocolonely.com/uk/en

Twitter url: @​TonysChocoUK

Linkedin url: https://www.linkedin.com/company/tony%27s-chocolonely/

Tell us about your job/company/role?

Tony’s Chocolonely exists to make chocolate free of slavery and child labour, not just our chocolate but all chocolate world-wide. Tony’s was created in 2005 when investigative journalist Teun Van der Keuken (Tony) identified that illegal child labour and modern slavery are still commonplace in cocoa farms in West Africa where 70% of the world’s cocoa comes from.

We exist to change this inequality by 1) driving awareness of the issues amongst consumers/retailers, 2) leading by example (we have five key sourcing principles) and 3) ultimately inspiring others to act … by this we mean the big cocoa giants adopting better sourcing principles so that the farmers/producers of the cocoa can make enough money to get out of poverty.

We’re actually now number 1 in Holland and launched in the UK in January this year … the reaction from UK retailers and consumers has been nothing short of amazing!

What drew you to working in the confectionery industry? (Apart from the free chocolate!)

I’ve always worked in food and drink since university, including eight years at innocent drinks, but the draw for me was the chance to come and create something really exciting and special in the UK with Tony’s. My son (8-year-old Archie) thinks it’s the best job in the world – as do his mates (who strangely now seem to spend more time at our house than before)! To get the chance to work at an impact business that makes delicious, ethical chocolate with similarly driven individuals is pretty much ideal. We’re disrupting and we’re ultimately going to change the cocoa industry and the lives of millions of producers and their families for the better - that is such a unique but exciting opportunity to be a part of.

What do you love most about your job?

We say “we’re “crazy about chocolate, serious about people​” and that means so much … we try not to take ourselves too seriously and the team and culture really make Tony’s what it is. I like the little touches like the baby bonus, BMI bonus (hold your BMI year on year to ensure we’re offsetting all the delicious chocolate), unlimited holidays and, of course, the free chocolate and free lunch.

We’re disrupting and we’re ultimately going to change the cocoa industry and the lives of millions of producers and their families for the better

What do you dislike most about your job?

Admin and new line forms … a necessary evil but back in September 2018 it was just me in the UK so I was doing everything. I don’t miss those NLFs in fact I never want to see one again.

What is your biggest creative achievement so far?

We’ve only been selling for two months in the UK so that’s a tough one. I can’t take credit for the recent Free Chocolate pop-up as that was driven by Nicola and the team. It was amazing – informative, impactful but delivered in a fun and engaging way that saw 5,000 people sign up and visit over five days. I won’t take credit for that but will take some credit for building the team that helped deliver it!

Where do you see yourself in five years time?

Half way on our journey to rid the cocoa industry from inequality and child labour.

Describe a typical work day.

As we’re in start-up phase it’s so varied and I love it. My days, at the moment, generally involve working on our UK strategy, meetings with existing or new customers and reviewing performance. I also spend a lot of time talking about why we do what we do at Tony’s at Tony’s talks and events … we have a no paid media policy so talking and spreading the word is a big part of all of our days.

What do you do enjoy doing outside of work?

I like exercise and wine (but not together). I’m just recovering from an ACL operation so now I’m doing more wine than exercise. Other than that, I love time with my family especially when we’re on holiday - each one is like an adventure.

What do you think will be the next big thing in the confectionery world?

I hope it will be the big chocolate producers adopting better, more equal, fully responsible and transparent sourcing principles

Apple or Android?

What’s Android?

What is your favourite book or podcast?

That Peter Crouch Podcast

Where do you stand on social media – can’t live without it, or an evil necessity?

From a business perspective we need it especially as we have a no paid media policy and it’s a good way of communicating our mission. As a parent I worry where it’s going and the impact some social media is having on younger generations.

If you could change one thing in the confectionery industry, what would it be?

You know what I’m going to say – no more slavery and child labour on cocoa farms in West Africa.

What’s the biggest misconception about working in confectionery?

That chocolate is indulgent and fun for everyone … it’s not currently fun for the people at the beginning of the value chain.

What advice would you give to other people looking to get into the confectionery industry?

Do it but find a brand and business that fits you and your values.

Time’s up! Thank you, Ben.

CREATIVE CONVERSATIONS is our new online series profiling influential people working in the confectionery industry. We want to discover what makes you tick and to inspire others to follow your path.

Please contact CN editor Anthony Myers​ to put yourself or a colleague forward.

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