School of Food Science and Nutrition

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Sam Brown

BSc Food Science

"Principles learnt in Food safety modules are applied every day because all food produced obviously needs to be safe. I also often use the basics principles of food science in problem solving."

Alexandra Emerson-White

BSc. Food Studies and Nutrition (Industrial)

What did you do after graduation?
Straight after graduating I started a job as an Assistant Technologist for Tesco but knew I wanted to go into the more creative area of product development, so I took an offer to go back to Innocent Drinks (where I had completed a placement year) as a Graduate Product Developer. I worked there for seven months before starting a graduate scheme at Marks and Spencer, also as a Product Developer. I had applied for this as they are such a well known destination for great quality and innovative food products and I knew the training that came with the graduate scheme would give me an amazing start across many different food areas. I also took some time off between the two to travel around China

What is your current position?

Graduate Food Product Developer at Marks and Spencer

What does your current role involve?
I work alongside a buyer and technologist to come up with delicious new products, as well as improving existing products if they need it. A large part of the role also involves keeping up with the latest food trends, whether that’s attending cookery schools, eating at new restaurants, browsing food markets, talking to leading chefs…all to make sure there’s nothing that we’re missing out on and we’re always ahead of the next big trend. I’m still training and a large part of this is on the job, working with some very talented, experienced product developers but it also includes some in-house and external training with all the other graduates from different disciplines across M&S. I work closely with my suppliers which involves travel. When I first joined I also spent some time in store to understand more about where my products actually end up which was invaluable.    

Did having a Food Science degree help you get this job?
Definitely, I wouldn’t have got the job at Marks and Spencer’s and previously at Innocent Drinks without it as it is a requirement to have a food-related qualification, and of course, to be really passionate about food.

What are the links between your studies and your job?

My degree gave me a great base knowledge for my job role; nutritional and label legislations for food products, technical requirements when visiting suppliers and manufacturing methods. Most aspects of my degree have a use in my job which is great.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Definitely seeing the products I’ve worked on in store, having a job where I’m never just stuck at my desk all day and I still can’t believe I get paid to taste amazing food
all day.

How do you think that Food Science graduates would benefit from following your chosen career?

Food Science opens up a lot of different avenues and jobs in different fields of the food industry. I love my chosen career as it provides a great balance between creativity, innovation and science. Additionally, people are always going to need food, so hopefully, you’ll always be in a job.

Do you think that having a food science degree is of value to employers?

Completely, almost everyone I have met working in the food industry close to the products has come from a food science background as this is often the requirement on application.

What made you decide to study at Leeds?
I knew I wanted to go to a university in the North as I’d grown up in the South of England. I loved the fact that the university campus was right in the city centre and had a really great buzz. The Food Science department was incredibly welcoming and carried out a great presentation and demonstration; a lot more inspiring than any of the other universities I had visited.

Any favourite memories of studying at Leeds?
Discovering the city and meeting amazing people that have become great friends. The Food Science department also holds some great memories as it’s a small department so everyone is close and you feel very much supported by it through your studies.

Did you do study abroad or an industrial placement? If so, how did you find them and what benefits would you say you gained from doing it?
The placement year was optional on my course, I decided to take it up and look for a job in the industry for my third year and I hoped it would help me stand out from other graduates when I finished studying. I managed to get a placement at Innocent Drinks as Product Development Assistant. I absolutely loved the year, role and the company. It really helped me to focus in my final year after having a year out of studying and the job allowed me to use a lot of the theory I’d learnt and see how this would be applied in industry. It also hugely benefitted me when it came to applying for roles after graduating as I had practical experience to talk about. I would definitely recommend an industrial placement year.