Meet Our People – Emma Lightfoot

19th July, 2021

Emma Lightfoot officially joined Magnus Group in June 2020. Although as this photo shows, she has always been part of the company – in name and spirit!

Emma, sister to the CEO Olly Magnus, is now heading up People and Culture for the group. She says this is her last venture for her career although looking at her passion for learning, her positive attitude to change and her drive to take on a challenge, that seems unlikely!

A lifetime learner

With three degrees, a CIPD Diploma in HR, two legendary local businesses, and a career that demonstrates her professional determination, Emma is a force. Add to that she is a parent, who worked part-time until her daughter went to school, you start to get an understanding of the commitment and passion that drives Emma.

“My work history and education may seem a strange pathway to People and Culture at first glance, but the common thread of looking after people exists,” explains Emma.

Emma’s career started in Zoology, with a Masters in Animal Behaviour and Welfare.  Her consultation business involved referrals from vet practices, helping individuals, and acting as an expert witness in court cases.  “I could be helping a family with a rabbit that wouldn’t be picked up one day, or in court as an expert witness in a case involving an aggressive dog the next,” laughs Emma, “It was certainly interesting and diverse”. Her reputation as being a leader in her field led her to lecture nationwide and to be involved in the BBC show “Barking Mad” with Phillippa Forester.

With the birth of her daughter, Emma used her career break to obtain a second degree in Psychology and Sociology with a focus on grief experienced by pet owners, strengthening her people person skillset. Since, Emma has worked in PR, Marketing, Events and Communication. Emma volunteers for local community groups and has been an Ambassador for Suffolk University. If not working, she is learning. Her thirst for knowledge and improving her skill set is unquenchable.

The road to Magnus

Emma describes herself as a plate spinner and someone who loves change and a challenge. Running alongside her other work, back in 2010, Emma joined her Dad’s “other” business: Orwell Lady. Orwell Lady is a river cruise boat, and Emma joined as a Director focusing on finance, marketing and PR.  And in 2011, Emma alongside her husband Dan, took on The Greyhound, in Ipswich. Juggling multiple businesses and jobs seems to be her forte.

In 2018 when Emma’s Dad sadly passed away, she became more involved with Orwell Lady. Taking on a more day-to-day role, she once again embraced the change and new challenges. “I love working with the team at Orwell Lady and the diversity of working with the public,” explains Emma, “I want to look after our customers and make sure that everyone has the best possible experience whilst with us.”

Joining Magnus Group

In 2020, shortly after Olly had taken on Magnus Group, he asked Emma to join. “I very rarely have a wobble but on this one, I had to think as initially I wasn’t 100% sure,” reflects Emma. Emma explains that she was keen not to lose her family relationship with her brother. As a big sister she is fiercely protective of her little brother, but was aware that working together would recreate that relationship with a working relationship. “We can react very differently, and respond to situations in different ways, but we have the same core values and beliefs,” explains Emma. “Whilst we may react differently, we will feel similarly and are both passionate about our beliefs. I knew there would sometimes be disagreements if we worked together, and I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t at the cost of our family relationship.”

Olly was adamant that Emma was the right person for the role, and that the Magnus journey would be successful with her on the team. Olly’s belief in Emma and what he saw in her, encouraged Emma to agree.

“I’m always aware of our two relationships: colleagues, and siblings. He is still the little brother I caught reading my diary when I came home from school early one day, despite being the CEO,” says Emma. (If you do have the opportunity ask Emma how Olly would empty rice crispies into the milk carton to eat them: something he was doing when he was caught settling down comfortably on her bedroom floor to read her diary!).

Despite being very close to her family, and returning to Ipswich from university, Emma had never envisaged herself working in the road haulage and warehousing family business.

Her vision

Over a year later, it is going well. Emma has now completed her CIPD Diploma in HR and is making headway into improving employee welfare and people management. Changes have included introducing a staff newsletter, starting a monthly H&S Group, updating the Staff Handbook, and improving Induction. A Well-Being service has been introduced not only for staff members but for their immediate family too to provide emotional and well-being support. “Over the next twelve months we will be introducing formal six monthly 1-2-1 meetings for all office-based staff, and look at improving engagement through a mentoring and coaching scheme,” explains Emma. “I want to look at perhaps setting up a running club, and more outdoor physical activities during breaks, and bring the teams together more.”

“Olly has introduced some big changes over the past twelve months, and we need to make sure we bring people together, and have the support structures in place to create a great culture in which to work,” says Emma. “The freight, logistics and warehousing industry doesn’t always have a great reputation for staff welfare. We want to lead the change not only for haulage companies in Suffolk but in the country and show people that it is a great career to follow.”

It sounds as if Olly isn’t the only Magnus who has big ambitions for Magnus Group, and is driving the change. Alongside Orwell Lady, The Greyhound, two dogs, two guinea pigs, teenage daughter, and ad-hoc work, “plate-spinning” seems to be a good description for Emma.

Do you know Emma?

If that wasn’t enough, three more facts you may not know about Emma:

First Job – at the age of 13, working for Hadleigh Maid. A job remembered fondly, especially for the amount of chocolate eaten.

First Album – Now That’s What I Call Music. Purchased in 1983 for The Lovecats by The Cure.

Bucket List Number 1 – Emma wants to retire and live in Italy. Despite the thought of not working, and leaving Ipswich, causing amusement to those who know her, Emma’s determination would indicate this will happen!


Magnus Group, a haulage, warehousing and freight forwarding logistics company, is based just outside Ipswich, Suffolk, ideally placed to serve the Port of Felixstowe with direct road links to the Midlands, the North and London.  If you would like to know more about our warehousing, transport or global forwarding teams call us on +44 (0) 1473836600 or email on We advertise our driver jobs on our company website: if you would like to join our team, follow our LinkedIn company page and check out our website.




Tags: , , , , , , ,

Categorised in: ,