Our world is your world. Careers in land-based industries.

Kathryn Bontoft

"You make friends for life, the quality of education is second to none and the experience of being at Harper Adams will set you up for life in the professional world."
REALM graduate Kathryn Bontoft

I am an… assistant estate manager

You could be an Assistant Estate Manager if you would enjoy:

  • Property management
  • Renovation projects
  • Planning applications
  • Renewable energy projects
  • Organising sporting leases
  • Conservation and forestry management

Kathryn Bontoft, who graduated in 2011, is an Assistant Estate Manager at Managed Estates in Stirling, Scotland, a company that manages a variety of rural estates across the country.

Animation, photography and design are just some of the subjects that appear on her CV, but it was a career in the countryside on which she finally set her sights.

The 26-year-old, originally from Hampshire, completed a foundation diploma in Art and Design specialising in Animation and Photography and studied Philosophy at the University of Birmingham before transferring to Harper Adams. “Having lived in the country all my life I was drawn to a career in an agricultural related job. Having looked at the options for places to study, Harper Adams stood out for its friendly atmosphere and placement year,” she says.

“The course as a whole is very varied and staff were always on hand to offer advice on more complex issues. The placement year also offers you an insight into what is expected from graduates and prepares you for professional life following graduation which appeals to prospective employers.”

Kathryn spent her placement year at Buccleuch Estates, Scotland, in the Langholm office, looking after the residential property portfolio including landlord and tenant issues, rent reviews, property maintenance and leases.

“Over placement I grew in confidence and was able to apply myself better in the final year. It also prepares you for what is expected of you as a graduate and as a professional in an office.”

Since starting work at Managed Estates, Kathryn has been involved with general estate management on a daily basis and has just sat her RICS final assessment.


More from Kathryn on Harper Adams and her career

What did you do before coming to Harper Adams?

I took a gap year and completed a foundation diploma in art and design specialising in Animation and Photography. I then went to the University of Birmingham to study Philosophy before transferring to Harper in September 2007.

What did you enjoy most about studying REALM?

The diversity of modules and topics covered. Approachable staff and friendly attitudes and the inclusion of a placement year, which really does benefit you in the final year and beyond into the first year of employment.

Tell us a little about any projects you worked on.

My dissertation was centred around the breeding success of Black Grouse and the possible reasons for their declining population numbers in Scotland. It was in association with RSPCA, GWCT and various independent Black Grouse Projects nationwide. The main finding was that weather, moorland conditions and grazing pressure all influence brood counts and breeding success but active moorland management and predator control proved most valuable in strengthening and increasing numbers and distribution.

What was the teaching like?

The staff were friendly and approachable and always on hand to answer any questions. 

And the facilities?

Brilliant, the library is fantastic and the new Faccenda student services building is a great improvement.

Why would you recommend the university? 

You make friends for life, the quality of education is second to none and the experience of being at Harper Adams will set you up for life in the professional world.

Tell us about your career since graduating.

I now work for Managed Estates as an Assistant Estate Manager. The company manage a variety of rural estates across the country. On a daily basis I am involved with general estate management but can be called upon to get involved in anything from compulsory purchase, to sporting leases and renewable energy proposals.  As my experience grows I would hope to progress to an Estate Manager’s role within the company and take on more estates and client work.

What sort of tasks and responsibilities does it involve?

Property management, renovation projects, planning applications, renewable energy projects, sporting leases, conservation, and forestry management.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The variety of work I am given, no week is the same.

What skills/experience was your employer looking for?

As a small company it is really important to have a ‘go to’ attitude, to always be prepared to get stuck in and work as a team. I have learnt to use my initiative and common sense and to be quite practical minded. A lot of the problems I am faced with are not straight forward and require not only a theoretical understanding of the issues and legislation but the ability to see the practical issues to. 

Do you think being a graduate made a difference to your position and salary?

I think it certainly helps in getting a job. Being able to prove that you have the ability to apply yourself to something is important to a potential employer. It also demonstrates an academic ability. I think this will help secure jobs and negotiate higher salaries.

What advice do you have for a student interested in doing a similar job?

Use your contacts, always ask for help if you need it and get involved in as much as you can to expand your experience. 

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