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Anna Bird

Anna Bird in the Regional Food Academy at Harper Adams University Anna Bird

My Harper Adams: Anna’s time at university

Why did you choose to study at Harper Adams?  

Graduate employment rates and like-minded people.

What were the best things about the course? 

Broad aspects; you get a very good understanding of field to fork processes, and it highlights the important topics affecting products, such as food security. 

What skills/knowledge did you gain that have been useful after graduating? 

Loads! The breadth and depth of knowledge around the subject area. There are so many aspects that you could almost be given any task in the food industry and you would be able to have a go at it. 

What sort of projects were you involved in? 

My dissertation was about the UK fruit industry and how supermarkets have changed consumers perception of fruit, I found that consumers didn’t mind if fruit was “ugly” and not all uniform, which may open up the doors to short food supply chains and local farmers. I was lucky enough to attend conferences; while on placement I went to the Food and Drink on Demand conference run by the Chartered Institute of Marketing, and in my final year went to the City Food Lecture held at the Guild Hall in London, as well as the Nuffield Scholars’ Frank Arden Memorial Conference (which was held at Harper Adams). It’s great to hear professional leaders discussing challenges and the changing consumer demands. I was also lucky enough to receive a scholarship from the Kildare Trust for which I am so grateful!

How would you describe Harper Adams? 

It is the best. It’s fun, friendly and close knit; it provides top class facilities, teaching and opportunities. 

And the teaching staff?

Irreplaceable. They are all supportive of students and experts in their area with real life experience. 

What did you think of the campus and facilities? 

Second to none, and always improving! It sounds silly to say and you only really realise in your fourth year but the library is outstanding - the amount of access to information is exceptional, and if there is something you can’t find the librarians will.

What was the social life like?  

The social life at Harper Adams has always been renowned; from the first day you arrive the bar welcomes you with open arms! The Students Union works really hard to put on fun activities each week, whether it’s a wild Wednesday night or watching the rugby on the side lines with a BBQ.  Agric-block fixture is always a good weekend; Newcastle and Reading students come to Harper Adams for sports matches in the day and in the evening the German oompah band the Bavarian Stomper, are in the bar - you drink out of steins and dance on tables!

What are your favourite memories of Harper Adams? 

Freshers Week – before you get to uni you’re nervous but everyone is in the same boat. There are loads of fun things to get involved with, and by the end of the week you will know most of the people in your halls! 

Did you explore Shropshire and beyond campus? What were your favourite places? 

The Wrekin is a tiring trek up what feel like a mountain but has amazing views and is an escape if needed. Shrewsbury and Stafford aren’t too far away if you fancy a shopping trip!

Tell us about any extracurricular stuff you were involved in. 

In my first and second year I played netball, we were involved with the BUCS league, and played in local tournaments. I was on the summer ball committee in my final year, as the entertainments manager and my responsibility was booking acts for the evening, as well as helping with any fundraising ideas we had. The ball runs from 7pm – 7am; it was stressful at times but worth it in the end!

Anna’s placement

Where did you spend your placement? 

At MMUK, part of the Munoz Group, and one of the UK’s largest citrus and grape specialists, as well as own branded juice and ice-cream. I was fortunate enough to experience many different aspects of the business. They have two sites in the UK; For a month I was working for the juice team within NPD and product samples, and then moved to the other site which is dedicated to Tesco products. I began in the commercial department working with sales and carrying out specific projects for MMUK or Tesco. I then moved to the technical team and worked on the compliance scores of farms in south Africa. 

What would you do in a typical day? 

I would ensure the orders had been received from Tesco successfully and make them aware if they had over or under ordered, which would take most of the morning. In the afternoon I would carry out project work; if we were running a trial I would visit specific stores and rate the product or check everything in store was OK.  

What did you enjoy most about your placement? 

The people and the variety. Originally I had decided I did not want to work for a big business but the experience I gained and links I made were second to none. I attended conferences with the company which I would not have had the chance to before. It made applying theories in my final year much easier and more relevant. 

Did you apply what you’d learned at university while you were on placement? 

Yes, there was a wide crossover of the modules I had studied in my first and second year which really helped. 

Were you able to use anything you learned on placement in your final year? 

Application of theories was the biggest help for me. I am more of a practical learner, so when looking at food quality management theories I could relate it to what we used to do in my placement job.  

How has placement helped you in the longer term? 

I developed so many different skills, from organising work Christmas produce boxes to attending meetings at supermarket head offices. It has made me more confident in my abilities. 

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