Working for a bank may not seem like an obvious career path within the fresh produce supply chain, but late last year Barclays launched its first-ever agriculture apprentice programme in banking, running alongside its other apprenticeships, graduate schemes, traineeships and work placements. To explain more, Roxanne Martin, National Research Manager at Barclays Agriculture, will be mentoring at The Fresh Careers Fair 2018.
What guidance will you be offering at The Fresh Careers Fair?
As someone who started in an entry level role as a school leaver, and having progressed my career over 10 years, I feel I can share my experience and knowledge with others. I’m really looking forward to speaking to lots of students, graduates and other job seekers and helping them to find their career path.
How did you come to work for Barclays Agriculture?
I joined Barclays as a school leaver at the age of 17, working in retail banking. Five years later I joined the Corporate Banking team in London as a Relationship Support Manager, looking after larger healthcare clients. Twelve months ago I decided to move into Barclays Agriculture as I have always enjoyed the countryside and had a natural interest in agriculture.
What does Barclays Agriculture do?
Barclays Agriculture provides dedicated support for the UK farming, landed estates, energy, and food supply chain sectors. We have over 327 years of banking experience, and our dedicated support for agriculture began over 270 years ago. Our Agricultural Managers across the UK harness this heritage and knowledge to give them a genuine insight into the challenges the sector faces, and the agricultural finance solutions that can help.
How does your role fit in?
As National Research Manager, I support the development of Barclays Agriculture into a dynamic and industry-leading bank by supporting the national leadership team with banking strategy, new propositions and thought leadership.
What do you like most about your job and the food industry?
I enjoy seeing our customers. My favourite part of my role is going out to speak to rural communities, and finding out what opportunities and challenges they are facing. This helps Barclays to shape solutions that help customers to achieve their goals. Personally, it has opened up the opportunity for me in the future to have my own portfolio of customers in one of our Agricultural Relationship Director roles.
How can youngsters get involved at Barclays Agriculture?
Barclays shares job vacancies on its careers website. We also provide two apprenticeship schemes – the Foundation Apprenticeship for those aged 16 or over who are currently unemployed and have no qualifications; and the Higher Apprenticeship scheme through which you can gain a university-level professional qualification and build a future career.
Is there a graduate recruitment programme, internship scheme or similar?
Yes, Barclays runs a graduate programme. We offer a wide range of career opportunities to help graduates think bigger and create smarter solutions. Through creating exciting and dynamic apprentice and graduate schemes, where the younger generation have the opportunity to experience the sector with a wide range of placements, we can continue to ensure that the next generation of talent are entering the industry.
What career prospects does Barclays Agriculture offer?
Both Barclays Agriculture and Barclays are fully supportive of employees who wish to progress their career further. As we are such a dynamic bank, there are countless ways in which to move forward your career, depending on skills and experience. Many of our agricultural team will either move into a more senior role looking after larger customers, a leadership role within Barclays, or look to move to a more technical, back-office function.
Did you know much about the food sector before working at Barclays?
My experience with the agricultural sector and the supply chain came from third-party knowledge, for example the news and the internet. However, over the past 12 months I have immersed myself into both agriculture and the wider food supply chain. I find it fascinating how many countless opportunities there are to support the ‘farm-to-fork’ process. I think when you become involved in the sector, you appreciate both the level of input and output involved in feeding both the UK and the wider global market
What skills and qualifications are needed?
Our agricultural managers come from a diverse background with a range of qualifications. What we like to see is that you have a genuine passion for helping customers to achieve their ambitions, and that you can deliver excellent customer service. Barclays also puts its Relationship Managers through a risk accreditation process, which includes gaining an industry-recognised qualification in banking. Personally, I have gained both a PRINCE2 qualification in Project Management and a Professional Certificate in Banking.
When you were young, did you imagine working for a bank?
Not at all! When I was younger I wanted to be a vet and work with farm animals. But I do get to spend a lot of my time visiting our rural communities across the country, so I am grateful that I am in a career I love.
Do you have any other advice?
I think the greatest advice I can give students, job seekers or any employees in the food industry who are looking for new roles is to find your passion and always aim to leave a legacy. When you find a role you enjoy, you will never work a day in your life. I can honestly say I couldn’t be happier in both the role and the industry in which I work.
The Fresh Careers Fair is the recruitment event for the fresh produce, retail, foodservice, hospitality and wholesale sectors, plus their related service suppliers.
Any organisation looking to attract the next generation of food and drink professionals by taking part in the 2018 edition on 8 March in London at The Kia Oval, should email Linda Bloomfield.