Student experiences

Joe Blaize on placement

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23 October 2013

Asda Product Manager

Joe Blaize spent his year in industry with Asda Stores PLC, at the head office in Leeds where, he says, he has had an amazing time. “I have experienced the world of work before but Asda is something else! Everyone in the office is fantastic, everyone wants to help, everyone is happy and everyone genuinely enjoys coming to work. The team spirit is fantastic and when pressures can be high the team can really help.

“I am a product manager on bakery. I look after 150 products from Asda’s in-store bakery, developing new products, ensuring they are safe and legal and also ensuring there is a balance between quality and price.”

The 22-year-old, who is studying Agri-food Marketing with Business Studies, tells us: “Asda was the only retailer I had applied for as I had heard great things about the company. Achieving the placement gave me a huge amount of satisfaction. I was able to secure the job over 800 applicants UK wide.

“I have always wanted a job with a food retailer. Getting experience in food retail is extremely hard. Many companies now want experience prior to hiring someone.

I feel having worked on two placements (the first was at Bakkavor between my 1st and 2nd years at university) has enabled me to build a CV with extensive experience in comparison to other potential job seekers.

“There is no such thing as a typical day on placement at Asda,” he adds. “One day I can be out on site at a factory developing new products and seeing an idea turned into a product that is sold in thousands per week. The next day I could be in London on an inspiration visit, trying to track down the next trend in bakery, or on a flight to Holland seeing an ingredients supplier. The next day I could be in the office checking emails, checking quality, attending meetings. The days are that varied and just that list of things barely scratches the surface of what I have been able to do.”

Joe on Harper Adams

What attracted you to Harper Adams?

My brother was already at the university on the REALM course, so I was able to get a feel for the university prior to attending.

Why did you choose your course?

I have always wanted to work in food retail. When I came to the Harper Adams open day I was able to see the links that they were able to offer to food retail.

Tell us a little about what it involves.

My course has a great mix of field and lecture based learning. My lectures are split between the lecture theatre in large groups and then smaller tutor groups where I am able to ask further questions in a more intimate environment. The field side of the course enables me to get hands in on in areas where I am not as strong. I feel practical learning allows me to pick up things more quickly. The course has a good balance of both assignments and exams; the assignments are a huge opportunity to gain a high mark prior to exams.

Are you glad you chose it?

It has allowed me to make a massive head start in the world of work. I have been able to gain experience from two huge companies involved in food retail, Bakkavor and Asda.

What are the facilities like?

Great - the library, lecture theatres and sports facilities are all fantastic.

What opportunities do you think are available to Harper Adams graduates?

Don’t disregard Harper Adams just because you think it is only for ‘farmers’. This is just not true; yes it is very agriculturally based however I am not from an agricultural background and the career I wish to pursue is not in the rural sector either but the course I am on has given fantastic links to the industry I want to be in and the modules on my course are more business than agriculture orientated. 

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