Career profile: Priya Farish, global talent director, Costa Coffee

Written by
Sarah Clark

24 Jun 2016

24 Jun 2016 • by Sarah Clark

Basic details

Name: Priya Farish

Job: Global talent director

Current employer: Costa Coffee

CV in brief:

  • March 2016-present: Global talent director, Costa
  • 2014-2016: HR director UK Retail, Costa
  • 2011-2014: Head of HR International, Costa
  • 2008-2011: Engagement and communications manager, Whitbread Hotels and Restaurants 

A day in the life

Tell us about your job and organisation

I’m the global talent director for Costa Coffee. I work with the leadership teams across the globe to build our leaders of the future.

Who do you report into?

Jo Bennett, group HR director.

Tell us about your team

They're an incredibly talented, motivated and enthusiastic group of people. Everyone brings something different to the table and that goes for my extended teams in all the international markets too.

What is the most rewarding part of your role?

Working with people across the globe and helping people build their own careers.

What is the most challenging part of the role?

Choosing which interesting opportunity to pick up and run with – there are so many!

What does a typical day look like for you? 

Starts early as a lot of the markets we operate in start earlier than us. I’ll be on the phone quite a bit or in meetings for large parts of the day. I spend a lot of time ‘connecting the dots’ which involves making sure various parts of our talent strategy are connected and all work beautifully together.

Why did you choose your current organisation to work for?

I fell in love with the culture and the way our business strives to make sure people are at the heart of what we do – and the most important ingredient in our coffee.

Perks and downsides of your role? 

Perk – the best talent conversations happen over coffee, it’s the perfect blend!

Downside – diary management, it’s like the modern work day equivalent of a rubix cube!

What skills are essential for the role you’re in? 

You have to be interested in people, what makes them tick and what they need in order to flourish. You’ve got to be a really good communicator with a strong sense of what you are trying to build long term and you’ve got to have passion for people being the heart of any business. You also need to be super flexible in your style as you work with so many different stakeholders who all need something different.

Lastly, you have to have bags of energy and enthusiasm to champion that talent agenda and share that with other leaders to help unlock potential in the masses – I found that has got me through more presentations than a pretty set of slides!

Career path

How did you get to where you are now?  

By focusing on walking my own path, having good people around me, chasing interesting work and having constant balance between what I get energy from and where I put my energy.

What were your best subjects in school?

History and English. I’ve been to university three times, once for my Psychology Degree (First Class from Brunel), once from my Organisational and Occupational Psychology Masters (University of Surrey) and the last time for my Masters in Strategic HR (CIPD, University of Beds).

What was your first job? How did you get it and why did you choose to work there?

Saturday girl at my parents’ post office – my parents let me do it for pocket money!

Have you followed the career path you set out to?

No – I spent 5 years studying to be an Occupational Psychologist which definitely comes in handy in my line of work.

What challenges have you faced along the way? How did you overcome them?  

I can be a bit of a worrier so my biggest challenge has probably been a bit of an internal one with myself. I’ve had to learn how to stop self-doubt getting in my way, it's really freeing, and helps you to enjoy what you do all the more!

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to land a job?

I told a little fib about my drinking stamina, I’m really a light weight but pretended I’d be ok keeping up with the Russian team so I could get my first international role!

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?

Leading the strategy to put National Living Wage into our business 6 months early and for everyone, regardless of age (Costa provides the National Living Wage to those under the age of 25 too).  Thousands of our fantastic people get paid a fairer wage for their hard work which makes me feel proud to be part of the team that made this happen for them.

Do you have any career regrets?  

Not really, I’ve been super lucky so far!

What advice would you offer to others who are looking to get to where you are now? 

Don’t chase jobs or salaries, go for jobs that are there to solve problems you are interested in solving. Then enjoy yourself and let your work do the work – you are at work too long to not get enjoyment and growth from what you do five days a week.

What advice would you give to your 22-year-old self?   

Worry less and enjoy it more, it all works out in the end!


  • Coffee or tea? Coffee
  • Jam or marmalade? Marmalade
  • The Beatles or The Rolling Stones? The Beatles
  • Mac or PC? PC
  • The Guardian or The Times? Neither
  • BBC or ITV? BBC
  • M&S or Waitrose? Neither – I try and shop local as much as possible
  • Morning or night? Morning
  • Rain on snow? Snow
  • Sweet or savoury? Sweet


  • App: Audible (audio books) so I can read on the go when I’m travelling.
  • TV show: Game of Thrones or Dr Who, as I’m a bit of a sci-fi/fantasy geek
  • Band: Everything from pop to hip hop, if I like the lyrics I generally like the band
  • Song: Don’t stop me now, Queen – it reminds me of being a student and dancing the night away
  • Book: All time classic has to be Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
  • Thing to do on a Friday night: Dinner with my husband because we both travel away a lot during the week
  • Place to eat: Anything I haven’t had to cook!
  • Holiday spot: It’s too hard to pick one as I’ve travelled all over, anything that is close to water normally works for me
  • Piece of advice you’ve been given: You’re not rich until you have something money can’t buy