My name is Hester Lonergan and I’m the comms partner for The Grocery Girls
I live in Manchester with my boyfriend and I’ve been doing this job since August 2019. That time has flown!
I’m so excited to be working for The Grocery Girls, because I get to tell stories that have a purpose. It’s what I love most; I’ve always been fascinated by the way stories show us the world from different people’s perspectives and allow us to understand each other in new ways. Books, poems, articles, films, tv, music, podcasts, paintings, sculpture, architecture and fashion are all different ways of telling stories, and they all have this incredible power to bring people together.
I’ve always wanted to tell stories honestly and for the right reasons, and The Grocery Girls lets me do just that
I’m an introvert, and I think my measured responses and tendency not to overpower others will make me a good leader. I struggle with anxiety and depression, which will only hinder me in my career if other people decide it should.
We’re all so different, with unique backgrounds and experiences influencing how we live our lives and do our jobs. Gender is such a small slice of who we are; it’s our skills, motivations and ways of interacting that should matter when we’re at work. This network is about showing just how diverse people across the industry are, inspiring us to judge ourselves and each other based on what we do, rather than whether we’re male or female.
We’re registered as a non-profit organisation, and I’m its only employee
I don’t work alone though; our founder and CEO of Co-op Food Jo Whitfield sets our overarching objectives and direction, and I spend a lot of time collaborating with her business manager, Verity Warnecke. We work together to make sure our overall strategy is up-to-date and that we’re growing in the right way. Then, I plan and deliver all our activity and report back on our progress.
Although my main focus is on our content and events, I do a lot more
We’re only one year old, so we’re still building the network in many ways. Being involved at such an early stage has been eye-opening; I’ve had to do lots of groundwork, like setting up a corporate bank account, creating contracts and implementing processes so we can run smoothly. My brain is creative and strategic, so putting those things in place has been pretty challenging! At the same time, I’ve had the opportunity to present my plans to Jo and a number of senior leaders, which has been one of the most exciting and encouraging moments in my career so far.
We work with an amazing group of volunteers from across the industry as well. They provide a wealth of insight that we use to shape our activity. Support comes from lots of other places too; whether I’m introduced to someone who wants to make a difference, meet them in passing or follow up on an email from a previous event attendee, there are so many people  lending their skills and knowledge to help build our community.
For me, that’s what really makes this job worthwhile
Meeting people from across the grocery industry, learning about them and their experiences and finding interesting ways to share their story with our audience. I’m passionate about bringing you open and honest accounts of what it’s like to be a senior leader, how people find careers that work for them, and how they overcome the challenges that might stand in the way.
I’m so happy to be part of this community, and I hope the work I do makes a difference for you. If you’ve got any stories you’d like to share with me, please email
You’ll be hearing from me soon!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *