Once a student joins us at Harper Adams, they will always be part of the Harper family! With a growing number of brilliantly successful alumni, we love to keep in touch and find out where life has taken them beyond campus.
Joanne Gregory graduated with her BSc (Hons) Agri-Business degree in 2018 and has joined the John Deere team as a Territory Manager for Turf for Northern England and Scotland. We caught up with her to ask about her time at Harper and how she has gone on to achieve a fantastic role.
Looking back on her career path to date, Joanne stems it back to her placement opportunity with John Deere in Langar. She explained: “Placement gave me the opportunity to travel the country doing national shows and events as well as undertaking a variety of tasks. From learning about precision farming through to training, presenting at dealer events and demonstrating machines, I got the chance to try so much.
“Placement year doesn’t just give you experience in the workplace, it allows you to network and make key contacts within an industry which is so important post-university.”
Despite how much she enjoyed her placement, it wasn’t the route Joanne had expected to take. She commented: “When I initially started looking for placements, I had no idea what I wanted to do and I certainly didn’t think I wanted to work for a machinery manufacturer. I was more interested in the food and supply chain sectors. However, after speaking to the John Deere team at the placement fair, I decided that I’d apply for the position as it sounded so diverse and exciting.
“Looking back now, this placement year definitely directed my career path. Your placement year is like an extended interview and it is unlikely that I’d be where I am today without that placement and without working hard to give a good impression.”
Now working for the company, Joanne couldn’t be happier. She said: “I enjoy every day that I work at John Deere. I have recently had a fantastic promotion to Territory Manager for Turf for Northern England and Scotland. This is a huge jump and quite the challenge but one that I am taking on and working hard to be successful in.
“Working in the turf industry is completely different to the agricultural background that I grew up with, which just shows how diverse the industry can be. It is very challenging as I had no existing knowledge of fine turf or commercial council businesses who are now my day to day customers. That just makes it even more interesting and everyone is so helpful and supportive when I need it!"
Now one year into her role, Joanne is going from strength to strength, leaning more everyday and thoroughly enjoying her job. Looking back to how her degree has helped her, Joanne said: “Harper provided a great business degree, but I genuinely think it is the placement year that really sets Harper students apart from other applicants in the workplace.
“Harper taught me people skills, life skills, time keeping and organisation skills which are so important within the business world. But every day is a school day, and you have to be willing to keep learning, and accept that you have to start at the bottom of the chain and work your way up.”
Given all of her success, Joanne still laughs about the fact she almost didn’t choose a path into higher education. She explained: “At 17, I had no intentions of going to university as I was such a home bird! It was what all my friends were doing and, with no other plan, I applied too. I was only visiting Harper for an open day, and consequently the Harper Adams Experience, that I realised university might just be the thing for me. Since 24 September 2014, I have never looked back!
“Having grown up on a farm, I knew the city wasn’t the right place for me, so Harper became my home away from home. I made friends for life; learnt all about the agri-business industry; had an amazing placement experience; graduated with a strong 2:1 degree and gained my dream job! Ambition and will power has pushed me to achieve all of this and I couldn’t be happier.”
From all of her experiences with university and the working world, Joanne shared her advice to her younger self: “I’d tell myself that anything is possible if you just put your mind to it.”