Inspirational Woman: Ramona Hazan | Founder, RAMONA’S

Meet Ramona Hazan

Founder of RAMONA’S

Ramona Hazan is founder of award-winning RAMONA’S – a plant-based food company which produces a range of middle-eastern inspired dips, houmous and falafel.

Here, we talks to her about her career, her biggest achievement and her goals for the future.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I am 44 years old and was born in South Africa. I am the founder of RAMONA’S but, actually, I used to be a computer engineer before moving to the UK, so quite a change all round. I’m also a mother of two teenage girls which is probably why I spend a lot of time at work!

My father is Egyptian and my grandparents were Turkish and so I grew up eating the sort of food RAMONA’S produces. When I arrived here, I just didn’t feel like the foods we were used to eating – predominantly Falafel and Houmous – were represented properly in UK supermarkets.

My current role? I predominantly focus on NPD, creating and developing the strategy and products for RAMONA’S. Products that I think the market will want to taste and eat.

But, sometimes I’m just the firefighter who deals with the problems! My name is quite literally on the wall, so the buck, as they say, stops with me.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career? 

No. I am not a big planner. I do go a bit too fast headfirst into things, but I married a person who absolutely plans everything so when I started the business, he wanted to do a business plan and put it all on excel, whilst I just said, ‘let’s do it and change as we go!’.

The biggest thing I’ve learnt from the way I do things is that if you are confident enough to make decisions as you go and, if they prove to be wrong, then change those decisions as quickly as possible. I don’t think you always need a detailed plan.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

God yes. The challenges are daily, sometimes hourly, all the time, all year long, and especially when you are on holiday! The challenges of running your own business are enormous but become less worrisome if you acknowledge that they are just part of the process and not each one is catastrophic – that makes them much easier to handle.

RAMONA's Lifestyle Orginal Hummus
RAMONA'S Heavenly Houmous on Blue Tablecloth

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

It’s really hard to pin that down. My to do list never gets shorter and things never seem to get done, but when I stop and look back over the last 17 years and consider where we were just 5 or 10 years ago, and where we are now, I suddenly realise how far we’ve come. My biggest achievements are a whole host of little ones added together, none of them were ground-breaking, none of them said ‘remember when we did that, the whole business changed’,  but they’ve certainly contributed to the success we’re seeing today.

I remember wishing I could find that one thing I could do to the business that will absolutely blitz it, but that doesn’t exist. A million great things happen – awards, brilliant new products, great staff, the rebrand, selling authenticity, selling an abundant table, selling provenance, selling quality – all these things are huge successes we’re proud of.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee? 

Both. I love being mentored and I love being someone’s mentor. Another set of eyes looking at the same business / problem / situation sees 100 more solutions.

When you are running your own business, it’s very difficult to take one step up and look from above and see what the next steps look like. That’s why you need someone else who isn’t emotionally attached to that product, situation or problem to guide you.
Sometimes I am that person for others, but equally I don’t mind someone else doing that for me. It is vitally important.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

I’ve got problems with gender equality. And they’re controversial because I’m a woman and of course I think there should be gender equality. I would never turn around and say that if two people are doing the same role, it’s right that the woman gets paid less. Of course not. However, I feel things may be going too far now that we don’t know who to hire. We don’t know how to put people into roles. Instead of the best person getting the job, we’re basing it on numbers, stats and how the business looks. Why are we doing that?

I think men and women are different, and I don’t always think they should be treated the same. We should acknowledge our differences and move on!

Some people have asked me in the past about how I feel being running a business and having a family. I say that the men that do my job also have families, they also sacrifice going and seeing their kids play sports, fetching them from school or not spending much time with them. That’s a sacrifice that everyone that does my job has, it’s not just me and it’s not just a question for women.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Run. Don’t do it!!! 🙂

Anyone who knows the full truth about running a business would not do it. There’s an element of stupidity and bravery that comes from youth and you need that.  You need invincible “know it alls” who are happy to run towards the challenges.

One thing I would say is anyone younger than me trying to do it must understand that it is not easy. Everyone’s biggest misconception is that RAMONA’S is an overnight success but it  took 17 hard slogging years. The hard work is real and the sacrifices are real no matter how easy it looks. Perseverance…

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future? 

I think my next challenge is getting used to the fact that the business is growing, and I need to relax my role in it in order for the right people in the business to evolve into their roles.

My hope is that the Houmous and Falafel eating consumers appreciate the work we are putting in to give them an authentic product and continue to choose to eat and share RAMONA’S products – there’s a lot of love put into them!

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