Alexandra Parker  -  Where Corporate meets Family in Business

Trehane Trust

Having grown up on a family farm, I was always interested to understand the rest of the food supply chain. I started my career in the fresh produce industry before joining Dairy Crest in the Milk Procurement team.

Cornwall will always be home for me where I grew up. I am very lucky to have best of both worlds; I now spend much of my time between head office in Surrey, where I live nearby with my husband, and Davidstow in Cornwall, home to the nation’s favourite cheese brand Cathedral City.

As well as being fully immersed in the corporate structure and culture at head office which is open to a wide variety of stakeholder interaction, I also spend lots of time with my team in the South West, building and maintaining strong relationships with our Davidstow farmers. My time on farm keeps me in touch with the challenges our farmers face, enabling me to articulate key messages to all stake-holders throughout the organisation, all the way to board level.

Alongside my role with DC, I have always been included and informed of activities and developments within our family farming business in Cornwall through our ‘next generation’ group, where we discuss business performance, new ventures and succession planning.

I am passionate about people development and change management. Through the insight I will gain from Nuffield, I believe I can leverage my strengths, values and learning’s to bridge the gap between two organisations as well as corporate and family business structures.

I am very grateful to The Trehane Trust for sponsoring me and I hope to share my knowledge with Nuffield and the wider farming community, both within and outside my work. 

Working for Dairy Crest has given me valuable experience in understanding the corporate world and importantly managing change and people.  I want to explore how organisations and individuals can adjust to facilitate this process of integration to implement change ensuring sustainable food supply businesses.  

I want to investigate corporate and family business models and what makes them successful. Corporate and family models have equally important values; however, there is always a danger of family businesses breaking down due to a lack of communication and governance. I would like to understand what can be transferred between a corporate model and a family enterprise and vice versa.

During my study I want to spend time with family businesses both within and outside the food supply chain, that have grown in scale whilst retaining family ownership. I plan to investigate cultural similarities and differences, shareholder expectations, strategy development and implementation as well as financial accountabilities.