Industry speakers inspire careers in food and farming

Reaseheath College’s agriculture and food production students gained invaluable advice on planning their futures at an inspirational Q and A session with a panel of industry experts.

The event, sponsored by the Food, Drink and Agricultural Group of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) and run by the Reaseheath Agricultural Development Academy (RADA) and the Nantwich college’s agricultural department, attracted 80 students from relevant degrees and Level 3 Diploma programmes.

The panel consisted of Philip Mclaughlin (Agricultural Manager HSBC); Lisa Williams (Senior Consultant, Promar International and Genus plc); David Hall (Northern Manager EBLEX); Hayley Verney (Technical Sales Manager, AllTech) and Richard Ratcliffe (farmer and Vice Chair of Reaseheath Governors). The session was chaired by John Giles, Divisional Director of Promar International and the Chairman of CIM’s Food, Drink and Agricultural Group.

Topics included the range of jobs and careers available, how to launch and build a career, the opportunities available and what employers look for in potential staff. Clear vision, a robust business plan, a critical understanding of the marketplace and a sound grasp of modern technology were among key attributes identified by the panel as being success factors.

Wider discussion ranged from the increasing number of females at management level to the surge in opportunities offered through expanding markets in Eastern Europe and China.

Describing the session as a great success, John Giles said: “It is essential that the agriculture and food production industries engage with talented young people and fire up their enthusiasm as to what they can achieve after studying. There are limitless opportunities in the UK and abroad, not just in farming but in areas such as human resources, finance, market analysis, IT, administration and in the legal field.

“The audience at Reaseheath was full of bright, intelligent and well informed young people and the standard of questions was as high as at any event, anywhere in the country. Every question was relevant and produced interesting and, in some cases, surprising answers from the panel.

“Summing up, we all felt that the students should maximise their academic potential, keep a strong range of softer skills and remain committed to driving their careers forward.”

Harley Sneyd, who is studying for a Foundation Degree in Dairy Herd Management and hopes to specialise in cattle breeding and genetics, said: “The panel were really informative and I gained a real insight into which doors may open for me in the future. I was particularly interested in hearing their views on the future of females in farming, and found the numbers of women in top jobs very inspirational.”

Robert Yardley, a Foundation Degree in Agriculture undergraduate who is looking to progress into management, said: “Although I work on a farm, it has been brilliant learning what is available throughout the farming and food sector. I’ve seen another side to the industry and this will be very useful to me when I come to choosing my career path. The whole event has been really positive and enjoyable.”

For further details about Reaseheath degrees see http://www.reaseheath.ac.uk/higher-education/