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Meet the graduate: Leanne Graves

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2 June 2020

No matter what degree course you choose to study with us here at Harper Adams, learning both practical and theoretical skills from a degree that matters can open any number of career paths for the future. Leanne Graves is testament to this; having studied her degree in Animal Science, graduating in 2013, Leanne is now a graduate surveyor at H&H Land and Estates.

The journey to this role was not one she anticipated as Leanne explained: “Initially, I intended to further my education following Harper to study Veterinary Science; the Animal Science degree provided a great footing to enable me to do so.

“However, on leaving Harper, and taking some time to review what I would really like to do with my life, an opportunity arose to work for Dalcour Maclaren. Dalcour Maclaren's main line of work is in the utility sector and I had the opportunity to work on a number of exciting major infrastructure projects.

“I enjoyed the consultancy work and remained with Dalcour for 5 years, advising clients and negotiating with farmers and landowners.”

This change of direction from her degree pathway opened up the opportunity to work with other Harper alumni at H&H. Leanne said: “I decided to apply for the Graduate Surveyor post at H&H Land and Estates to expand my knowledge into different aspects of the land-based consultancy role.”

Having successfully gained her place in the team, Leanne has been getting down to business. She said: “I started my role in January 2020 and am looking forward to learning the real 'bread and butter' of rural land agency, including valuations, RPA/BPS, countryside stewardship schemes, planning matters and furthering my compensation claim experience.

“A typical day at H&H Land and Estates includes a briefing with my line manager to review my current workload and ascertain what assistance I may need to complete each scheme.

“As I am working towards my RICS and CAAV qualifications, variety is key, and so I am usually assisting on a few different schemes at any one time and they fall within; assisting in valuations, planning applications, countryside stewardship schemes, sales and grass lettings.

“I often go on site visits with my more experienced and qualified colleagues to gather as much experience as possible. I always like to get out into the field as it gives you a chance to meet new clients and get to know your colleagues better.”

While at university, Leanne could not have envisaged her career as a surveyor, she is loving every moment. She said: “Although my route to becoming a land-agent has not been via the conventional route, I would say that if you enjoy meeting new people, have a keen interest in all things rural and have a willingness to learn - do it!

“My current role is full of variety and I look forward to going into work everyday; that's what we all want, a job that you are really interested in. You will come across so many like-minded people and there are so many different aspects of being a land-agent that you can then specialise in your favoured area as you further your career.”

Looking back on her time in education, Leanne is glad to have studied animal science, gaining a different insight to her peers. She commented: “Harper was an amazing experience. Not only do you get the highest level of education in your chosen degree but you will come away with friends for life. 

“Harper has an excellent reputation for high levels of education and also benefits from superb on-site facilities to provide experiences outside of a normal course syllabus.

“I'm also unashamed to admit that one of the draws in attending the social aspect. Knowing that there would be an opportunity to interact with like-minded people from all over the country, many of whom I will remain friends with for life, as well as securing a great network of professional contacts for my future career was exactly what I was looking for.”

Leanne explained how the hands on approach to her course was one of her favourite parts - something she now gets to do every day at work. She said: “Whilst the theoretical aspects of any course are a necessity, Harper provided the opportunity to undertake many site visits onto the farm and further afield to get a practical understanding of the knowledge we were learning in the lecture rooms.

“Harper also provides the opportunity to be taught by industry professionals in all aspects of your chosen degree, the tutors are always up to date with the most recent innovations and research in their sectors.”

Leanne also acknowledged how her placement year was vital in helping her in her current role, despite the differences. She explained: “My placement year was spent with James and Jane Bainbridge who own a local business near my home in Cumbria (B.B Dairy Ltd.). The couple run an animal feed buying group and also provide nutrition advice and took me on as a trainee sales advisor.

“I had opportunities to visit feed mills around the North West and gather a more in depth practical knowledge of nutrition especially in dairy cow rationing. The experience also allowed me to visit numerous farms around the North West and understand the different approaches to nutrition whilst advising and building good working relationships with the farmers.

“The skills that I refined and learned during my placement year have aided me in understanding the different farming practices which I will encounter in my current consultancy role. My placement year also increased my confidence in communicating and advising farmers and landowners which is a major part of my current role.”

Degrees that matter can teach skills no matter the occupation you choose; our interconnected sectors mean we can solve, cultivate and feed together. To discover how you can learn from a degree that matters, join us on our Virtual Open Day on June 17. Click below to find out more.

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