Case study - Louise Coulbeck, JCS Fish Limited

On International Women's Day, Seafish is supporting the Be Bold for Change campaign and is looking to encourage more women to consider a career in the seafood industry by championing successful women who are leading the way and shaping the future of the sector.
Photo of Louise Coulbeck with a colleague

After a career in fashion retail spanning two decades, and a short spell in property, Louise Coulbeck jumped at the chance to join her husband in a new business venture in the sector.

Louise has a long family history in the seafood industry. "It's in our blood and we are very passionate about Grimsby. My grandparents worked on Grimsby docks and my mum worked for British Rail managing 30 ladies typing invoices for fish moving up and down the country," explains Louise.

"When my husband asked me to help him get a new business up and running, I knew we'd make a great team - he managed the day to day buying, filleting and selling, while I worked to setup the back office support - and so JCS Fish Limited was born."

Seventeen years later, Louise has faced some obstacles along the way. When she first started out, she found that the world of fishing was not viewed as a place for women. Louise decided that the best way to prove herself was to let her work do the talking.

"I've worked hard and feel that I'm definitely more accepted and more respected now. I'm certainly more vocal, than I was when I first started working in the seafood industry.

"I think more women should consider the seafood industry. There are so many opportunities across the supply chain - the world really is your oyster. I just don't think any other industry offers the same amazing spectrum of roles and responsibilities. You have the potential to both travel the world and climb to senior positions.

"Women bring a whole different outlook to the industry or, in fact, any executive role. Growing up I was always taught to be prepared - in my book that's one of the biggest asset that women bring to the seafood industry or any business. My husband is great on the day-to-day, whereas I'm more about forward planning, so together we became a really good team and come up with some great ideas for JCS Fish."

Louise feels there are still challenges to overcome. "I've been to many seafood industry events where a lots of networking is done in a very male-focused way that I feel is particularly difficult for women. I think progressive companies can still do more to help make it easier for women who are looking for a good work-life balance but we've still got a way to go."

"I definitely think there should be more women in senior roles. So often women's experience and understanding bring a different dynamic and complement existing expertise, therefore to be a truly effective organisation I think you need real diversity at the top. I'd encourage more businesses to consider the merits of what women can bring to their operations to ensure we are utilising the great talent that is out there."