Skills Ambassador Case Study - Farmer

Careers in the food and drink industry: A personal perspective

Name: Margaret-Anne Lawrie
Role: General Farm Worker, College Lecturer and Director of Tri Angus Limited
Age: 31

Margaret-Anne LawrieWhat does your organisation do?

The farm is mixed arable farm which produces suckled beef and grows a variety of crops for both human and animal consumption, for example wheat, barley, oil seed rape, grass and turnips and we rent out land for potatoes.

The farm also has approximately 120 breeding cows. They produce, on average, one calf per year which we then grow and sell to other producers. The ultimate product is the beef you eat, e.g. mince, burgers, steaks, roast beef etc.

My role focuses on the cattle but I help out on the arable side of things too.

Dundee and Angus College: I also lecture at the local college for three hours a week, working with the Agriculture students and teaching them about livestock production.

Tri Angus Limited: Finally, I run a sports event business which was established in 2014 to deliver triathlon events locally and my role/job title is Director.

Give an outline of how you got to this job i.e. school, college/university, first job etc.

After leaving school I studied Sport and Recreation Management at university. I then spent eight years working in the sport industry in a variety of roles before deciding to come back to the family farm in 2012.

What skills do you use in your job?

Organisational, communication, forward planning, problem solving, attention to detail, IT skills

What are the entry qualifications?

A background in agriculture is useful but not essential. There are also various college and university courses you can complete to give you anything from an NC to BSc in agriculture related subjects.

It depends on the role as to what qualifications you need. Some positions need very little in the way of qualifications but others are more skilled. For example, you need to be good with figures (maths) and have the appropriate qualifications before you can operate the sprayer or fertilizer.

The other thing which is really important to have is a full driving licence.

What do you particularly like about your job?

I love the variety – no two days are the same. I also love being outside and on the go most of the time. Farming is anything but a 9am-5pm job – it's a way of life, especially when you have livestock. I really enjoy this and wouldn't change it.

Farmers are keepers of the countryside. We take pride in what we do and on our farm we strive to constantly work in harmony with nature to ensure that our farm is sustainable for generations to come.

What “fascinating fact” would surprise people about your job?

I think most people would find everything we do unusual/interesting!

One thing which my friends and students are always surprised about is how much of the medical treatments we carry out ourselves rather than calling in a vet. We do all routine injections and calvings. The vets are only involved for advice or if there is a problem.

What car do you drive?

For work a Renault Kangoo van and for personal use a Alfa Romeo, Gulietta.

What is the salary – or salary range for your job role(s)?

The salary range will typically be £15k - £40 for farm based roles.

What did you study at school and how relevant were the subjects?

Standard Grade: Maths, English, French, geography, art, chemistry and physics

Higher: Maths, English, French, geography, art, economics, business management, IT

Yes, they are all relevant and, with the exception of French and art maybe, I will touch on something I learnt in each subject almost daily.

What advice would you give to school pupils thinking about pursuing a career like yours - or any career in the food and drink industry?

Work hard, be positive and proactive and show a willingness to learn. Don't look for reasons not to do something, find ways to do it. Try to find ways of gaining as much practical experience as possible.

What do you particularly like about the food and drink sector?

We are producing top quality, local, Scottish, food. Knowing that it's super tasty and produced to the highest welfare standards is very satisfying.

I'm proud that what we produce falls under the Scotch Beef and Scottish Quality Cereals banner.

More Information

If you would like to know more and how to be involved, you can email us at ambassadors@sfdf.org.uk or call the SFDF team on 0131 229 9415.