Barbara Bray  -  Vegetable production for specific nutritional need

I was born and brought up in County Durham, the land of the Prince Bishops and lived in an area surrounded by farms. I decided from a young age that working with food would be a lifelong passion. Whilst at Silsoe College, Cranfield University I became interested in international development and on completion of my MSc in post-harvest technology, I worked for an NGO sponsored project in Uganda for subsistence farmers before moving to a commercial farm which grew vegetables for export to the U.K.

Affectionately known by friends and colleagues as ‘Mrs Bean’ I quickly settled into the ‘expat’ farm life and its various challenges.

I enjoyed the experience of living and working abroad but I outgrew my role on the farm and returned to the UK to become more involved in the fresh produce industry which was expanding rapidly into the prepared foods market in the late 1990s.

I had an exciting time travelling to different countries to procure products, working with growers to develop new product lines, choosing new varieties of crops and learning to speak French and Spanish along the way.

I became a technical manager at Bakkavor and moved to Northwest England and was based at a vegetable processing plant until I left in 2014.

I embarked on a MSc course in Human Nutrition and set up a technical and nutrition consultancy, Alo Solutions, providing services to the food industry.

Working for myself has been a great springboard for positive change in my professional and personal life and it continues to amaze me that I have the opportunity to work on projects that bring about successful change within businesses, spend quality time with friends and family and still find time to volunteer with Big Bookend, Tough Mudder and run the UK student conference for the Nutrition Society held in September 2016.

The belief to apply for a Nuffield Scholarship is thanks to the new found confidence that I have gained from running my own business and realising that the phrase ‘Just do it’ is a real motivator.

Once my Nuffield project is completed; I plan to expand and develop my consultancy business so that I focus on adding value to my clients’ businesses by assisting them to implement innovative systems and products. Involvement with professional bodies is part of my current strategy and that will increase as I engage with new colleagues and continue my professional development. Coaching and mentoring will become a more significant part of my career so that I can encourage people to achieve their goals.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Food Chain Scholarship Fund for their generosity in sponsoring my Nuffield Scholarship.