Guest talks draw together students from across the disciplines at Harper Adams, seeing them gain insight into different industries which could spark an idea that carries them forward into an exciting career. While Covid-19 has prevented in-person gatherings, the desire to share and gain knowledge has not diminished but rather taken to the online sphere.
In today's blog, Joe Bramall, a second year BSc (Hons) Agri-business student, takes us through his experience of the Harper Forum and the New Horizons lecturers and its transition to digital platforms.
University with COVID restrictions certainly isn’t the same. The lack of substantial meals in the SU bar has meant that its doors have had to close for the time being.
One aspect - though possibly not thought about as much - is that we can’t have any visiting lecturers or speakers on campus.
In the past visiting lecturers and speakers have offered incredible industry insight. Last year Judith Batchelar, Head of Brand at Sainsbury’s, gave a brilliant insight into the retail sector and Nigel O’Donnell, Managing Director of Meadow Vale Foods, was part of panel discussion about pressures in the food supply chain.
Fortunately, we have been able to invite speakers online via Teams and Zoom so we still get this insight into the sector.
Dan Jolly, Head of Business Development at Yagro, was the first speaker I listened to this year at Harper Forum. Yagro is a company that uses data and analytics to improve efficiency on farm. Dan’s talk really showed the importance of data to make informed decisions which would lead to improved business performance and profitability. The change from BPS to ELMs will impact margins on farm and I believe that agri-tech will bridge the gap and Dan showed how Yagro could be a part of that.
Alongside Harper Forum, Vice-Chancellor, Dr David Llewellyn has been running the ‘New Horizons’ lecture series.
Nicholas Saphir, Chair of AHDB, was the first speaker talking about AHDBs role and strategy. This was followed by John Shropshire, Chairman of G’s Fresh, talking about business challenges in the post-Covid/post-EU World. Both talks gave a bigger picture of UK agriculture and supply chains which has helped me when writing my assignments. The opportunity to ask questions has allowed us to engage with speakers which has been more important this year as online engagement has been quite difficult at times.
There has been many more speakers this year covering all course areas at Harper Adams and everything has been recorded; if you want to watch anything that has been missed, the Students Union has a YouTube channel where all the Harper Forum talks are uploaded and, for students, the New Horizons Lectures are available on the Learning Hub.
I am looking forward to future talks especially with Minette Batters, NFU President, next year.
Harper Forum are still looking for speakers for their weekly talk held at 7:30pm every Thursday so if you would like to take part please contact Thomas Oatey, our SU President.