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Featured student of the month - Simon Haley

Posted 1 May 2013

Simon Haley

A monthly special featuring a current student from Harper Adams.

Postgraduate student, Simon Haley, is hoping that by demonstrating best practice when it comes to social media, he can help to connect farmers across the country.

The 28-year-old, who studies MSc Negotiated Studies – International Agri-Business and Farm Management, first studied at Harper Adams for his undergraduate degree, of which he gained a first class.

After graduating in 2009, he secured a post with meat suppliers, Dunbia, before moving on to his current role as Northern Rural Business Advisor for Reading Agricultural Consultants.

He is now combining his day job with work for his MSc dissertation, which is looking at the value of social media, specifically Twitter.

Simon, from Preston, Lancashire, said: “My dissertation is looking at social media in terms economic and social values.

“I’m conducting qualitative research, including semi-structured interviews, and co-organising a conference this month about the value of digital media.”

Simon’s interest in social media spans beyond the work of his dissertation, as he spends Thursday evenings co-hosting #AgriChatUK – a debate and networking forum hosted on Twitter.

He added: “AgriChatUK has a different topic each week, it’s community owned and completely neutral.

“I’m one of the co-founders and am involved on a voluntary basis, donating my time to help gather questions, invite guests and supervise the discussions.

“We now have 5,600 people following the main account which is fantastic, it’s grown organically and more and more people are choosing to be involved.”

Aside from social media, Simon’s interest in agriculture began when he travelled to Australia and worked on various cattle stations in 2004.

With no family connections to the industry, he chose to gain work experience in dairy farming before choosing to study at Harper Adams in Shropshire. During his time at Harper Adams, Simon worked as a Student Ambassador and was the Polo Club Captain.

Simon, a member of the Institute of Agricultural Management and associate member of the British Institute of Agricultural Consultants, added: “I still have a keen interest in agriculture but my MSc is helping me to develop all of my knowledge through an international perspective.

“In the future I would like to continue in my current role, which involves liaising with clients to write budgets and grant and planning applications, but develop it with an international angle and travel the world. My dream is also to have my own smallholding.”

#AgriChatUK takes place on Twitter, Thursdays 8-10pm. For more information see www.twitter.com/Agrichatuk

Simon is also co-organising an event - “Twitter in the Farmyard: how your rural business can profit from social media” on May 22.

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