In 2016, Janice McNutt, Castlecaulfield, graduated from the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) with a first-class honours degree in BSc in food design and nutrition.
She completed the Ulster University validated degree through CAFRE at Loughry Campus, Cookstown with a view to progressing her career in the agri-food field.
During her four-year degree, Janice completed a one-year work placement with Linden Foods and from this, added to her CV a Diploma in Professional Studies. Then, she enrolled on the Queen’s University graduate certificate in business communication whilst completing the final year of degree study at Loughry Campus.
“The food industry is competitive, and I felt by gaining as many additional qualifications being offered 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.
New product development technologist at Linden Foods
After graduating with the BSc (Hons) Degree in Food Nutrition and Design, Janice returned to work with her placement provider, Linden Foods. Here, she moves to take the position of new product development technologist.
Within this role, she worked closely with large UK retailers and the broader 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.”
In winter of 2019, she graduated from the course awarded by Queen’s University Belfast.
Studying at Loughry Campus allowed her 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 Loughall.
As a family-run local business, Gilfresh Produce employs 170 people and manages 1800-acres of produce and imports to ensure a 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.”
Her role is “very diverse with no two days the same”. Janice’s 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 ensure that 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 offerings 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 industry is your goal,” concluded Janice.