Five minutes with Lucy Beattie, farmer and teacher
Lucy, from Lochbroom, in the Highlands of Scotland, graduated with a BSc (Hons) Rural Enterprise and Land Management (REALM). She now runs her family farm, teaches rural skills and works part time for the Scottish Crofting Federation.
What did you do before coming to Harper Adams?
Gap year working all over the world on farms and bar work
How would you describe Harper Adams?
It's friendly, well placed for jobs and the best in its field
Why did you choose to study here?
Family members had been and I was told it was the best for employability.
The best things about my course were …
Learning about how rural economics affect EU and world policies. And it gave me a surveying qualification.
Tell us a little about any projects you were involved in at uni.
While working for Severn Trent Water in my sandwich year I was given the opportunity to design a spec on CAD for an eco-friendly sheep dipping facility. This used a lot of skills I had practiced at University. It was also quite a steep learning curve and I enjoyed the challenge. I have since used that knowledge to design and build three new houses on the farm.
That sounds like an interesting placement.
Yes, I worked as a student valuer, working with the senior valuer. Work included site visits to land that had burst water pipe, new pipelines and the day to day management of the 22,000 acre Lake Vyrnwy Estate, in Wales.
What was the best thing about work placement?
My boss, who had the confidence in me to let me deal with smaller projects on my own.
Do you think placement enhanced your career prospects?
Yes, it gave me experience working in a FTSE 100 company with over 10,000 colleagues with public responsibility.
And now you run your family farm. What does that involve?
I have the day to day running of the farm: five holiday cottages, ten long let houses, 200 sheep, 20 cows and turkey sold from the farm gate at Christmas. On a typical day I’d be up at 7am with my three kids to get them off to school. From 9am my day will be varied from dosing sheep to VAT returns –there are many different jobs to turn my hand to. There are also really busy times of year like lambing or turkey plucking which becomes 24/7 work.
I also work for West Highland College teaching SVQ rural skills. I have gained my postgraduate qualification in Further Education through this job. I also work part time for the Scottish Crofting Federation running their training programme.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Fresh air and a different sunset every night!
What advice do you have for a student interested in doing a similar job?
To be self-employed you have to be disciplined but don't work yourself too hard. I find it hard to let go sometimes - I had my first holiday in 2011!
What advice can you offer to graduates wishing to set up a business?
Get experience in your field and work abroad if you can it's great to experience other cultures for inspiration
What is the teaching like at Harper Adams?
Excellent, unique and I still keep in touch with my past lecturers.
And the facilities?
Modern, extensive and well looked after.