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International student scoops prestigious place on graduate scheme

Posted 1 April 2014

Joanna points out China on the map

An international student at Harper Adams is one of only two UK university students to be awarded a place on a prestigious graduate training scheme.

Pengwei Shan, known as Joanna, is approaching completion of a BSc (Hons) Food Quality with Retail Management degree. The first three years are spent studying at Beijing Agricultural College (BAC) in China, and the final year in Shropshire at Harper Adams.

In September the 21-year-old will begin the two-year International Development Graduate Scheme with leading global food manufacturing company, Bakkavor Food Ltd. Founded in 1986, Bakkavor supplies more than 5,000 products to the world's largest retailers.

As part of the application process, Joanna, from Huairou District in Beijing, was asked to design a new type of sandwich. She said: “Consumers seem to prefer low calorie products that use fresh ingredients, so I decided to make a light and healthy sandwich using strawberries, tofu, mint, black pepper and garlic.

“It just so happens that sandwiches are the most popular food with Chinese students when they arrive in the UK!

“I’m very excited to start my new job and I am really looking forward to it. I’ll mostly be working in New Product Development (NPD), as well as analysing consumer trends.

“Bakkavor is a great company with good opportunities for progression.”

During the two years, Joanna will spend one year working in the UK and one year in Asia. The aim of the scheme is to assist Bakkavor to develop business in Asia whilst securing well-qualified graduates.

Helping Joanna to test the sandwiches were 4th year students James Willcox and Alice Graham. 22-year-old BSc (Hons) Agri-Business student James from Hampshire, said: “Joanna’s sandwiches were very refreshing and tasted healthy – a real light bite.

“I was happy to help with the testing and wish her all the best with her new job and hope to hear about her experiences in the future.”

Joanna heard about the job vacancy when the Careers Service at Harper Adams posted an advertisement on its website seeking international applicants fluent in either Mandarin or Chinese.

Careers Service Manager, Maria Simpson, said: “Joanna asked for our support in her application as each stage required different skills. Firstly there was a telephone interview, then a psychometric test, then a visit to an assessment centre to give a presentation about the new product.

“We are really proud of Joanna as it’s thanks to her hard work and dedication that she has been awarded this position.

“She gave her all to the application at every stage and she has been a real pleasure to work with.”

Each year Harper Adams University welcomes Chinese students from BAC to study one of two food-related courses. The first foundation year is an intensive English language study followed by two years taught in English at BAC. The final year is spent at Harper Adams with graduation taking place in September.

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