It all started with Hannah Carter’s mission to find a blueberry muffin, without all the hidden animal products that go into everyday foods.
She discovered aquafaba could be used in baking but was fascinated to find out why it could be a little hit and miss, so she began working with the food science departments at two universities to find the optimum formula for aquafaba to work consistently every time.
While this research was undertaken, Hannah launched OGGS® cake range into three major supermarkets and generated nearly £1.5million investment in her company. In 2020 they had a breakthrough for aquafaba and OGGS® patented the formula for the UK’s first liquid egg alternative, OGGS® Aquafaba is now available in three major supermarkets and online outlets.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I always wanted to make a difference and for me that started in healthcare. While living in New York and Munich I spent 12 years in the pharmaceutical industry launching products globally across a range of disease areas. At the age of 28, I was the part of the team that designed one of the most successful wound care products to date (Aquacel Foam) and, by 31, became the youngest and only female Senior Director in Europe at a top 15 Pharma company. This was a huge deal at the time in a very male lead German office. It ran its course though as I didn’t agree with the way people were treated and I always vote with my feet, and I left. I moved back to the UK and after a short time in a Strategy Consultancy, I set up Capital Shift, a leadership and strategy consultancy.
My passion for cake and belief in veganism led to the discovery of a major gap in the market for an easy-to-use egg substitute for anyone looking to reduce their consumption of hidden animal proteins in foods; OGGS® was born. I put all the money I had into proof of concept and three months later I’d raised £325k to start the business.
Today, my role is leading a team of 13 brilliantly talented people, setting the strategic direction of the company and mentoring my team to reach their full potential all whilst impacting positively on the planet and animals – it’s my dream job!
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
In a way, I did. I always knew that with the way my brain works I could be the CEO of a big corporation and I knew from the marketing module in business A level that Marketing would be my pathway. I also knew that I wanted to experience working abroad at some point too, so I searched for opportunities which gave me that option. I have had incredible opportunities to experience life and my career in many ways.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
Yes of course, I can’t imagine anyone hasn’t. Living alone in a new country when you don’t speak the language, and you’re in a different time zone and can’t speak to your family often was very difficult. I lived with anxiety in my 20’s to early 30’s on and off for over a decade. Every new job pushed me and challenged my skill set, usually I didn’t have specific experience, but I’d managed to talk my way into the job through the interview. I faced sexism and ageism from organisations, sometimes it was related to pay inequality and sometimes it was bullying from females, but these are all things that make us who we are. Its life and you can either feel sorry for yourself or see these life experiences as gifts that build resilience and shape us.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Since OGGS® launched hundreds of thousands of people have been able to enjoy eating OGGS® cakes and baking and cooking at home with our OGGS® Aquafaba egg alternative. 500,000 fewer eggs have been used in cooking and baking meaning that we have saved enough CO2 to drive around the world 26 times. We have also supported someone who was experiencing homelessness by offering them a job and helping them to find a home. OGGS® for us is game changing, in ten years’ time we hope to be remembered for the changes that we have driven, to have been a catalyst to for the metamorphosis for a new and better world. Now, that would make us proud.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
Seeking to understand how I can make a difference to the person sitting in front of me. For example, when sitting in front of a buyer for a major supermarket, I put myself in their shoes and think “how will OGGS® support this buyer to excel in their role and hit their targets” instead of just telling the buyer why our products are great.
It’s a subtle difference but a critical one when it comes to engaging the other with what we are trying to achieve and finding the cheerleaders who will grow our business with us.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I love it. I have many mentors both formally and informally in my career and wherever I can, I offer support to others. Sharing your skills and insights is so important, and when you mentor people you also learn so much yourself too!
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?
I would ensure that during the formative years in education, boys and girls are required to do multi gender sports and studies (sewing vs. electronics for example). This is where the leaders of the future will learn about equality.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
Stop worrying about what you haven’t done yet and enjoy what you are doing now. Learning and development in the here and now is so much fun. We must stop and enjoy it as the destination is rarely what we planned!
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
We still have a very long way to go with OGGS, but one day I hope to have an animal sanctuary and therapy centre for young people who face challenges at home. They can come and have a break from home life, enjoy mental therapy through caring for the animals in the sanctuary and we will provide education on how to run a business including how to fundraise and marketing the concept. Skills for life.
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