Beth Alexander 2

Name: Beth Alexander

Age: 25

Job title: Monitor Farm Programme Manager

Company & location: Quality Meat Scotland, Edinburgh

Education: Agribusiness Management BSc at Newcastle University

Why did you decide to go for a career in food? Growing up on a beef and sheep farm, I spent weekends and holidays working there. I enjoyed working with the sheep particularly because I loved working with my collie dog, Glen. As a result, I have been passionate about farming from a young age and always knew I wanted a career in this industry. University allowed me to meet people and realise some of the opportunities there are in the food and drink industry. Many of my classmates went on to work for McDonald’s, Tesco, Aldi and Morrisons to name a few. I wanted to find a job where I could work with farmers, not only helping them to share ideas but for me to learn and take these back home to our family farm.

Explain your job to us in a sentence (or two): The Monitor Farm Scotland programme is a Scottish Government funded four-year initiative managed by Quality Meat Scotland with support from AHDB. We have nine farms across Scotland of different land types, business set ups and enterprises. My role is to coordinate all activity across these farms, helping to improve the profitability, productivity and sustainability of producers through practical demonstrations, the sharing of best practice and the discussion of up-to-date issues.

What does a typical day look like for you? Every day is different – which is one of my favourite things about my job! Coordinating the full programme, I manage three Regional Advisers who facilitate three farms and their networks each. I oversee the delivery of on-farm meetings and knowledge exchange events, providing reports for the Scottish Government and managing budgets.

“Diversity drives innovation. We need people from every walk of life to seek solutions for tomorrow’s challenges”

Tell us about how you went about applying for your job: I first applied for a job as a Project Officer at QMS when I was still at university. This was my first job interview and it was very daunting going into an interview panel of men over twice my age. My only experience was working on our family farm, but I was keen to learn and extremely passionate about the industry. Despite the interview being a blur, I was successful in getting this role.

Six months in, I applied for another job within the organisation and rather than just an interview, this had multiple tasks – from writing up a proposal for a technical knowledge exchange project to a group exercise of being dropped on a desert island. I found meeting the people you are competing against for a job quite daunting, particularly being the youngest in the room.

I have now progressed internally three times in as many years, each with an interview process and the nerves never dampened. When job roles were advertised, I often questioned whether I had the experience to do the role but with encouragement applied anyway. This has shown to me that work ethic, passion and the right attitude are qualities employers look for just as much as knowledge and experience.

What’s the best part about working for a food company? The people – I am always meeting new people and learning new things. Farming can be a very isolated industry and my role is to bring people together to share ideas and improve their business performance.

And what’s the biggest misconception people have about working in food & drink? There are so many opportunities for every type of person. The industry spans from grassroot farmers and hospitality to education and strategists. It opens up so many doors to meet new people, travel and learn. Diversity drives innovation. We need people from every walk of life to seek solutions for tomorrow’s challenges.

What advice would you give to other young people looking to get into the food & drink industry? People are willing to help. Be bold, ask the questions and see where it can take you. Don’t underestimate yourself – age is just a number.

What’s your ultimate career dream?  To take knowledge exchange international. Travel, learn and bring back learnings to Scotland’s food and drink industry.

Interested in finding out more about food & drink careers? Check out GrocerJobs for the latest vacancies