Meet our Head of Operations – Nolan
Posted by Claire Pearson
We haven't talked about Team Belu much over the years, but we want to change that. Over the next few months, you’re going to get to know our small team of 8 through their very own #BeluWaterstories
First up is Nolan Wright, our Head of Operations. Here is his Belu Water Story:
Nolan, what do you do at Belu?
I have been Head of Operations at Belu for just over the past 3 years. This means that I manage the ordering process for bottled water between our wholesale partners and Belu, our manufacturing process and partners, our distribution partners, the customer service function and I also work closely with our sustainability manager on delivering some of the improvements to our footprint that we aim to make every year.
Nolan visiting the site of our Natural Mineral Water source in Powys, Wales. Photo Credit: Veerle Evens
You worked at Amazon before joining Belu. What made you want to leave the corporate world for social enterprise?
I felt the time was right for a change and wanted to work for a business that had a clearly defined purpose (and did something good for a change), but also felt like a startup. I got the best of both worlds here at Belu. For me a social enterprise still needs to operate as a business as it needs to be successful, however rather than giving money to shareholders, we give 100% of our profits to WaterAid.
What are the differences from working at Amazon to Belu?
I had been fortunate enough to have been at Amazon for 14 years before I left so had seen first-hand the company change from a start up to the corporate giant it is today. The main differences when working at Belu is the need to be hands on in lots of areas, you do not necessarily have the same internal support network that was available at Amazon as we are an incredibly small core team. At Belu we also do not have the ability to spend in the same way that Amazon can to overcome some challenges. This means we must collaborate with partners more and try and do things smarter.
Nolan inspects our Ethical Glass bottles as they come off the production line. Photo Credit: Veerle Evens
Last year you visited Madagascar with WaterAid to see some of the impact that having clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene has on communities there. What was your biggest takeaway from that experience?
Going to Madagascar with WaterAid was a true privilege and for me personally a life experience that will be hard to forget. Getting out to see both pre and post intervention communities and all the hard work that the WaterAid team (both locally and internationally) do to support some of the most remote communities is a fantastic leveler in life and helps to show what is truly important. It was great to be able to see the end results of the profits we make and to see what all the hard work is turned into. Once a community has access to clean water and sanitation, it was remarkable to see the difference to people's lives and how they can now go about their daily business and thrive.
Do you think working at Belu has changed you?
Working at Belu has given me insights and knowledge of how we as humans use materials and what happens to them after, it has made me think more about how individuals need to take responsibility (alongside businesses, Government and local authorities) to make a concerted effort to drive change. Small changes can add up, for example we all now use refillable bottles in my household and my kids love taking them to school with them. Likewise, we always reuse bags now and avoid buying new plastic bags when out shopping unless we really have to. As a family, we’re becoming more aware of the reusability of things, rather than the ‘use once and buy again’ attitude we were used to.
Francoise Saholinirina, also known as Madame Holy, talking to the visiting Belu team, at her home in the village of Ambatoantrano, Bongolava, Madagascar, September 2017. Photo Credit: WaterAid UK/Sam W James
What are some of your favourite social enterprise products/brands?
I love Change Please as I think the concept is great given our reliance on coffee (mine anyway). It’s great to see a company supporting and empowering the homeless community through business opportunities. Another favourite of mine is Toast Ale (enough said) for its use of waste food by turning it into great beer.