21st century women in the milling industry

The Miller: Emily Munsey

When it comes to running the family business, Emily Munsey firmly believes in a hands-on approach. Indeed when the 30-year-old describes a typical day in her role as manager at Wessex Mill in Oxfordshire, it would probably be quicker to list what she doesn’t do.

“I’ll usually start by looking at the wheat intake for the week, and decide whether to order some more,” she says. “I’m also transport manager, so I’ll check over the lorries before heading back into the mill to see if there are any ongoing projects that need my attention – are we upgrading anything in the mill, do we need more fuel, anything like that.

“I’m also head of sales, so I’ll make sure the team is OK and that existing and possible customers are being dealt with. Then I’ll do half an hour or so of social media, respond to any queries and complaints that might have come in, and check to see if there are any issues with the lab that need sorting.

“And then sometimes I might have to fill in for someone who is off on holiday. So yes – it can be pretty full on.”

It’s five years since Emily, the youngest of three sisters, quit her job as a risk management consultant with the Ministry of Defence to join her dad Paul at the helm of the family run mill in Wantage.

When that building burned down in the 1950s, the family bought the former Clarks Mill and set about establishing themselves as one of the leading independent millers in the south of England.

Rebranded as Wessex Mill, the company sources wheat from local farms and uses the traditional roller milling process to produce a range of bread and culinary flours as well as yeast and oats.

“We’re a small business, with less than 40 staff, but we more than punch our weight,” Emily says. “Last year was especially tough, and we had to run a round-the-clock operation just to meet the increased demand – but everyone pulled together to meet the challenge head on.”

Emily is proud of the fact that she is the fifth generation of millers, dating back to 1896 when her great, great grandfather first rented a mill in nearby Osney. But she stresses that it was very much her own decision to join the family firm.

“Yes, it was a bit of a culture shock. But me and dad wrote out a list of things I needed to learn and we gradually worked our way through it. The first thing I did was get my HGV licence, then I passed my milling exams.

“The beauty of milling is that it’s so multi-faceted. I learn something new every day.”

The Miller: Emily Munsey