JANICE McNutt, Castlecaul-field, graduated from the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) with a First Class Honours Degree in BSc in Food Design and Nutrition in 2016.
Janice, a former pupil of The Royal School Dungannon, completed the Ulster University validated degree course through CAFRE at Loughry Campus, Cookstown and certainly had an appetite to progress her career in the field of agri-food.
During her four year Food degree course Janice completed one year of work experience with Linden Foods and from this added to her CV a Diploma in Professional Studies. Not content with one additional qualification, Janice en-rolled on the Queen’s University Graduate Certificate in Business Communication whilst completing the final year of degree study at CAFRE, Loughry Campus.
“The food industry is competitive and I felt by gaining as many additional qualifications being off-ered to me was the sensible thing to do. It’s not enough nowadays to just have a degree under your belt. The Graduate Certificate course was a part-time programme delivered at Loughry Campus, so it was quite literally on my doorstep and, with a bit of added determination, I was able to complete it around my food studies,” commented Janice.
After graduating with the BSc (Hons) Degree in Food Nutrition and Design, Janice returned to work with her placement provider, Linden Foods, taking on the role of a New Product Development Technologist. Within this role she worked closely with large UK retailers and the wider innovation team of the Linden Food Group to develop and design exciting products for the UK retail meat market.
“Fresh on the heels of securing full-time employment I knew I would benefit from studying even more. To develop my management skills I chose to study part-time to attain a Master’s Degree in Business for Agri-food and Rural Enterprise at Loughry Campus. The course is awarded by Queen’s University Belfast and I graduated from there in the winter of 2019,” said Janice.
“Studying at Loughry Campus provided me with the opportunity to gather a mix of both practical and theoretical knowledge of the food industry. The knowledge and industry experience delivered by the teaching staff at the college give a reliable and informative insight into the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry.
“For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be involved within the agri-food industry. The degree courses offered at Loughry Campus provide a range of modules and topics which allowed me to learn about many different roles that would be available after graduation. The state-of-the art facilities at Loughry, which closely mirrored a production environment, gave me the opportunity to experience production processes in reality; whether it was producing ice cream, baking bread or making yoghurt,” added Janice.
Janice has created a new path in her career and is now working as a National Account Manager for a local business, Gilfresh Produce, based just outside Loughgall.
“As a family-run local business, Gilfresh Produce employs 170 people, manages 1,800 acres of produce and imports to ensure continuous weekly supply of goods. With many large UK and Irish retailers on our customer portfolio, I am their main point of contact. I am the key link from the customer to our business in many aspects, including commercial management, logistics and marketing support.
“My role is very diverse with no two days the same. My main responsibilities are to analyse and grow sales, network with customers to develop, maintain and manage relationships, liaise with internal teams and customers to ensure requirements are complete and to ensure brand consistency and marketing are up to date.
“I use my experience from both Loughry and Linden Foods to manage new product development within Gilfresh Produce, exploring innovative and convenience offer-ings to our UK and Irish customer base.
“I firmly believe that through studying at CAFRE, both on the Ulster University validated Food Degree course and my Queen’s University postgraduate qualification, I have made my CV stand out and am very happy with the choices I have made to grow my career. I would recommend CAFRE as a place to study if a successful career within the agri-food in-dustry is your goal,” concluded Janice.