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    Student struck Gold with industry placement

    16 August 2023

    Gaining real-life industry experience helps shape not only our students’ future ambitions - but allows them to develop a diverse range of skills to take into the workplace.

    Here at Harper Adams, most of our courses include an invaluable placement year in industry to give students the opportunity to experience a range of roles and responsibilities within their sector of choice.

    This was certainly the case for BSc (Hons) Agri-Food Marketing with Business student Victoria Gilder, who has recently completed her placement with Cotswold Gold.

    Originally from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, Tori wanted to explore the agri-food sector to broaden her understanding of the industry, preparing her for her final year of studies and beyond...

    Here’s what she had to say!

    My placement was with Cotswold Gold – a rapeseed oil company based just outside the village of Broadway in the heart of the Cotswolds.

    Cotswold Gold is owned by the Beldam family who have farmed in the Cotswolds for many generations. Originally, they started out in the traditional way, farming crops such as Barley, Wheat and Linseed but it is when Charlie – the eldest son – came up with the exciting idea of using their Rapeseed that they grew to create their own premium, extra virgin rapeseed oil to bottle and sell to the public that things changed for them. 

    Fast forward several years and the business has excelled.

    The team continued to grow, and they soon began making tasty drizzles and condiments including mayonnaise and hollandaise. As well as this they now manufacture products on a large scale for extremely developed brands that are selling in the likes of Harrods and Fortnum & Mason.

    No two days were the same at Cotswold Gold and that is what I loved about it.

    Tori Gilder on placement at Cotswold Gold

    Some days I would be in the office taking orders, putting information onto spreadsheets, talking to customers, working on marketing and other days I would be in the factory filling, capping and labelling jars and bottles. I would also occasionally help out in the warehouse picking and packing orders to send out. By actively engaging across various sectors of the business, I gained an insight into the intricate steps required to establish a thriving enterprise.

    I actually found my placement myself rather than one of the placements on the Harper database. Although some of the placements Harper had to offer looked like fantastic opportunities, I felt that none of them were ticking all of the boxes for me.

    This is when I had the idea of looking for my own placement and instantly, I thought of Cotswold Gold. It is a local company to me that I knew little about, but I had always seen their products around and the awards they were picking up. This drew my interest and so I did some research. I was blown away with how impressive the company was and what they had achieved as well as their core values – sustainability, family owned and a passion for the British countryside – all things that are very important to me. I knew that this was where I wanted to go and so I made contact and managed to get myself and interview and then the placement.

    Do you feel you have benefitted from having a placement during your degree, and why?

    Absolutely! Throughout my first two years at Harper Adams, I didn’t completely understand the reason for a year’s placement and can’t say I looked forward to it - but I can now see and vouch for just how important and valuable it is.

    Over the past year, my journey with Cotswold Gold was extremely educational and informative. The diverse range of responsibilities and challenges I encountered allowed me to develop my skills and broaden my understanding of the agri-food sector. From the very beginning, I was immersed in a dynamic environment that allowed both my personal and professional growth to evolve.


    I was particularly grateful for the exposure I gained in various areas such as marketing, sales, and customer relations. The hands-on experience I acquired during my placement has provided me with a comprehensive understanding of these crucial aspects of the industry.
    The invaluable lessons learned, and the skills acquired have undoubtedly prepared me for a successful and interesting future within the agri-food sector.

    What’s it like studying at Harper?

    Having grown up on my family farm as well as being surrounded by our family business – Gordon Gilder Transport (a Livestock Haulage company), I always knew I wanted to pursue a career in the agricultural sector.

    My cousin had studied at Harper Adams and raved about it so even when I was still at school, I knew that Harper Adams is where I wanted to go. Having looked around on an open day I fell in love with the place and knew I was going to be happy here.

     Choosing to study at Harper Adams University has undoubtably been one of the best decisions I have ever made and for so many reasons. One of the first being the unique campus community and the opportunity to meet like-minded people with similar interests and passions. This has allowed me to make great contacts as well as friends for life.

    As well as this, the opportunities the University gives you to develop your career and push yourself even further are like no other. There are regular talks held with very interesting people that are open for any students to attend. One that I found particularly interesting was with Nigel Owen, who discussed rugby, mental health and his links to farming.

    I have also been able to immerse myself into the Shooting club at Harper Adams where I was women’s captain in my second year.

    The decision to study Agri-Food Marketing with Business is another thing I am grateful for. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time on this course and believe it opens so many different doors for students. It covers such a varied range of topics – a few of my favourites being Fresh Produce, Farm Assurance and Quality and Food Marketing.

    I am very much looking forward to returning to Harper Adams in September to complete the final year of my degree; however, I am also sad that my time at this amazing university is coming to an end.

    What advice would you give to someone who is looking to study at Harper Adams?

    I couldn’t recommend Harper Adams enough. If you are looking for a close-knit community, educational resources and facilities like no other, then this is definitely the place for you. If you are thinking about studying here, I would definitely recommend having a look round as this gives you a true feel for the place and is what secured the decision for me.

    Student struck Gold with industry placement



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