This week, I have the absolute pleasure of interviewing Natalie Campbell, the CEO of Belu Water. Belu Water is a brand that you will definitely have come across whether in a restaurant or a bar, but what you maybe didn’t know, is that they donate 100% of their profits to WaterAid. Natalie has had an incredible career so far, from starting her own business at 21, to now being the CEO of an amazing company, and we are absolutely thrilled that she took the time to answer our questions. I personally came across her work while watching a career talk as part of Cosmopolitan’s Career Festival called “How to Get Hired” and I was immediately captivated by everything she had to say. I hope you enjoy her interview and are as inspired by her words as I was.
Firstly, for our readers who may be unfamiliar with you and the work you do, please can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your business?
Belu is a drinks business that puts people and the environment first. We work primarily with the UK hotel, restaurant and catering sectors to fulfil their water requirements with the lowest carbon footprint possible, whether that’s mineral water, filtration systems or refillable bottles. We then donate our profits to WaterAid, to bring clean water and safe toilets to everyone, everywhere. I joined Belu as CEO in March this year, three weeks before the first lockdown!
Can you talk us through a day in the life of a CEO?
Being CEO of a small business means there is a huge variety in what I do day to day. Some days, my number one focus is on the team and making sure everyone is feeling good; I’m a firm believer that if you look after your people the outputs will follow. And other days I make sure I’m finding time to dream big, strategize and really think about the kind of change we want to make in the world. I really believe businesses should be a positive force and do no harm to people or planet, I geek out on it most days.
Did you always aspire to be a CEO? If not, what was your dream job as a child?
I always knew I wanted to be a CEO and I started my first business whilst still at university. I’ve always moved through life seeing barriers as something to be broken down, and when you consider that in 2020, still only 5% of the FTSE 100 companies are led by women, it only motivates me more to champion women in leadership roles. When my friends were busy buying ‘Brides’ magazines and thinking about when they’ll get married I was busy reading business books and plotting my million-pound business.
We know Belu works hard to provide clean bottled water that is eco-friendly. What one piece of advice would you give to someone wishing to live in a more sustainable way?
I would say the most impactful thing that we can do as individuals is to change our mindset when we’re buying goods. There’s the popular quote from Anna Lappe which says every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want and that’s absolutely true. If we keep that thought in the front of our minds when we’re making buying decisions, it doesn’t matter if you’re buying loo roll, ketchup or a pair of trainers, there are businesses out there showing that those things can be made in a way that benefits our planet.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Know yourself, be yourself, look after yourself – the Clore Social Leadership Framework
What is your proudest achievement within your career so far?
I can’t choose, I pinch myself daily, from Badass Women’s Hour launching to building A Very Good Company into a global business, to joining Belu and seeing us through the stress of the first lockdown to opening a Morgan De Toi store at 21. It’s crazy and humbling.
In the light of the latest lockdown, could you possibly share with us some tips on how to stay focused and motivated during this second lockdown?
There’s this sense of deja-vu going around at the moment going into another lockdown. My advice would be do whatever you can to look after mind, body and soul. Take time to focus on what makes you happy and if something doesn’t nourish you, don’t water it! And sometimes you just need to acknowledge that everything is a bit rubbish and you’re not feeling great, before you can take steps to change that. My personal vices are runs by the sea, yoga, Kettle Chips and red wine!