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    Making My Mark: Preparing for life after graduation

    Posted 27 May 2016

    I saw my HRP as an opportunity to learn about the workings of businesses so I can be a more useful member of my dad’s team."

    Mature student Michael Smith saw his Honours Research Project (HRP) as an opportunity to develop himself, in preparation for a greater role in the family business.

    “Originally, I didn’t want to go to university,” said Michael, 27, from Histon, Cambridge. “Instead, after finishing sixth form, I decided to go and live in America where I played in a band.

    “After a while, I decided I did want to study, so enrolled on an agricultural course at a college. Even though I’m not from a farming background, I’ve always worked on a farm when I needed money. I believe there’s nothing better than fresh air and some proper graft.

    “My college tutor had studied at Harper Adams, so I decided to come and have a look as I approached the end of my course. I found the university amazing and so decided to apply for BSc Agriculture.

    “I’ve made some great friends since coming to the university, and some of them have family farms and businesses back at home which they are really proud of. My dad runs an animal feed company, but I never saw it as a career choice until I came here and saw the passion of my friends.

    “I saw my HRP as an opportunity to learn about the workings of businesses so I can be a more useful member of my dad’s team.

    “I decided to look at how companies’ strategies respond to the global food demand. I’ve always been passionate about investment and agriculture, so really enjoyed the opportunity to combine these passions together.

    “I interviewed six UK companies which are actively involved in agriculture. The one I was the most proud of securing was Cargills, which is the largest privately owned company in the world.

    “It’s hard to get people to talk about how they make money, and where they believe future opportunities will come from, but I was very pleased with the responses I gained.

    “Through this experience, I could see how important strategy, mission statements and a vision are for a company. I hope that I’m able to incorporate some of my research into developing my family’s business and I look forward to seeing where we are in five to ten years’ time.”

    ‘Making My Mark’ is a collection of articles looking at how Harper Adams University students are making a difference in our world. If you have a dissertation, or story, you wish to be included, please email


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