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Polly & Rory: The Graduates

The opportunities to work in agriculture extend far beyond the farm gate, yet it’s rare that those who advise farmers, conduct scientific trials and manufacture the products that farmers use share the stories about their careers.

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Rory Galloway
Rory Galloway

BASF Agricultural Solutions is based at Cheadle Hulme in Cheshire, and it’s here where you’ll find a high number of under 30-year-olds, a wide diversity and a work environment that is embracing agile working.

 

Two of the young people who work for the business are Polly Lawman, 25, a mixed farmer’s daughter from Cambridgeshire, and Rory Galloway, 27, whose interest in farming started with a farm job taken to pay for a rusting Land Rover that he bought from eBay when he was just 14.

 

From very different backgrounds, both share a determination to live outside their comfort zones, to promote more sustainable ways to produce food and to build their careers – involving travel if the opportunity arises.

 

Polly’s role is within BASF’s marketing team in Cheshire and Rory is employed as an Agronomy Manager in Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire.


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Polly Lawman works within a marketing role
Polly Lawman works within a marketing role

Polly Lawman

It was during her childhood, helping in the vegetable garden and on the family farm, that Polly’s love of food and food production was formed.

 

“I had some calves in the summer that I bucket-reared and loved working in our vegetable garden at home," she explains. "It formed my interest in where my food comes from, but despite this, I was never really set on a career in agriculture.”

 

“I chose to study geography at the University of St Andrews, mainly because the idea of moving to a big city was pretty daunting, so moving to a small town with three streets and three beaches seemed ideal.

 

“I enjoyed studying geography because it looks at the interaction between humans and the environment, as well as how we manage our land.”

 

After graduating, Polly joined MDS, a graduate training scheme set up 30 years ago by a group of fresh produce companies to develop talented people to work in food and farming businesses.

 

MDS gives graduates the opportunity to do three to four placements within member company businesses, which include BASF, Aldi, Gs Fresh and many others.

 

“While with MDS I worked for a horticultural company in a commercial role creating and costing flower bouquets for the retail market, and as a harvest manager for a soft fruit farm.

“I had some calves in the summer that I bucket-reared and loved working in our vegetable garden at home"

Polly worked as a harvest manager for a soft fruit farm
Polly worked as a harvest manager for a soft fruit farm

Polly's top tips for following her career footsteps

  1. Be open minded – lots of the roles that I have done have turned out to be quite different to how I first anticipated
  2. Go outside your comfort zone – it’s pretty cliched but challenging yourself to do things that make you nervous is really rewarding
  3. Don’t pretend that you know everything – no-one expects you to
  4. Be a good listener – you’ll learn a lot more if you listen more and speak less
  5. Don’t dwell on your mistakes, learn from them and move on

BASF

 

“My final role was with BASF in the communications team. My role was very varied and it gave me the opportunity to learn about the career opportunities within the company and the industry.

 

“One of my main roles was managing the farmer trials and the company’s variety field trials’ open days.

 

"The role was great, it got me out of the office for a lot of the summer and gave me the chance to learn about our products.”

 

Towards the end of her placement, Polly was offered a permanent position within the business in the solutions and services team that are responsible for the company’s digital and agritech tools. The role has given Polly involvement in the wider industry’s agritech mission, and she will shortly be joining the Young Innovators’ Forum with AgriTech East.

 

“AgriTech East is a fascinating hub that connects farmers and growers with scientists and entrepreneurs, they hold conferences and events which provide the opportunity to see the latest innovations in action – things like hydroponics, aeroponics and robots.”

 

Polly says her career has taken her in a completely different direction from her plan to become a Blue Peter presenter – she admits that she still looks at the BBC’s careers’ page and that she has now visited the Blue Peter garden to see where she would sit when she lands the role!

 

“AgriTech East is a fascinating hub that connects farmers and growers with scientists and entrepreneurs"

Rory Galloway has enjoyed variety in his career

Rory Galloway

 

Born in Leeds, Rory’s family are now settled in Mears Ashby, Northamptonshire.

 

“I’m the first person in my family to work in agriculture, that we know of,” he explains. “My dad works in pharmaceuticals and I fell into farming after I misguidedly bought a Land Rover from eBay – it was built from rust!”

 

His first job was helping a local farmer with lambing, with the purpose to generate cash to rebuild his beloved Land Rover.

 

“The job turned into a weekend and school holiday job on both the livestock and arable enterprises,” he says. “When I left school, I decided to pursue what I really enjoyed and studied at Harper Adams University for a degree in Agriculture and Crop Management.

 

“I loved it there and made my friends for life.”

 

While he loved the farm work of his teens, he recognised he needed to broaden his knowledge to decide which sector of agriculture he really wanted to be a part of.

 

“Before I started at Harper Adams, I had a summer job working for Bayer CropScience working on crop trials.

 

"It was a great experience, I spent the summer driving a plot combine and learning about agrochemical trials.”

Rory’s five top tips for anyone considering a career like his

  1. Never say no to anything, even if you’re not sure if you’ll like it, or if the money isn’t great. It’s an experience
  2. Get as much varied experience as you can, not only does it make you more employable, but it also means that you get a better idea of what you do or don’t like doing
  3. Practical farming and field walking experience, this enables you to see things from a farmer and agronomist’s perspective, you inherently understand their day-to-day struggles and successes
  4. Make as many contacts as you can – the old adage is so true, it’s not what you know it’s who you know – but knowing something does help
  5. Enjoy what you do, if you don’t enjoy it, you’re not doing the right job

"It was a great experience, I spent the summer driving a plot combine and learning about agrochemical trials.”

KWS

KWS

 

During his summer holidays he worked as a harvest student at home in Mears Ashby and in his third year at Harper Adams, he spent a placement with KWS in Cambridgeshire, learning how to cross wheat plants and all that’s involved in the lengthy process of producing new varieties for the UK market.

 

“My 15 months with KWS gave me a taste of ‘real life’ and was invaluable experience, managing a harvest team really developed my leadership skills,” he says. “If anyone has the opportunity to do a placement year, I would highly recommend it, it looks great on your CV when you apply for jobs post university.”

 

After graduation Rory started a job with Hutchinsons as a trainee agronomist where he became BASIS Agriculture qualified, he spent three years with the company advising farmers and developing his business portfolio.

 

“Seeking a new challenge brought me to BASF, which I love, I’m not confined to an office, I spend a lot of time out on farms with agronomists and farmers and I work autonomously, feeling like I’m completely trusted to do my job which is about as varied as it can get.”

 

Outside his day job he says his passion is farming – and that he’s still doing up his Land Rover 13 years since he bought it.

 

Reflecting on his career to date he says: “I changed my mind a lot about what I wanted to do, when I was eight I wanted to be a professional tennis player and own a Land Rover dealership, obviously neither happened – for one thing, I wasn’t any good at tennis and I’m still not!

 

And I’m scratching my Land Rover itch. In fact, it was the rusty Land Rover that started my life-long love for farming."

 

"Seeking a new challenge brought me to BASF, which I love, I’m not confined to an office, I spend a lot of time out on farms with agronomists and farmers"

Watch the video: #ThisIsAgriculture

As part of National Careers Week #ThisIsAgriculture showcases agriculture at the cutting edge of modern technology and at the forefront of innovations in key areas, such as IT, forensics, engineering, automation and design.

 

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