MDS Pathways: Language Mastery for Agri-Food Roles

Martha joined the MDS Graduate Scheme in 2021 after completing a languages degree. She comes from a non agri-food background but has been able to transfer her skills to support Member businesses.

Why did you study a languages degree?

I have an immense passion for language learning and immersing myself in other cultures. Although I had other course options, but I felt most compelled to a degree in languages, as I wanted to enjoy my learning experience. I studied French and Spanish at A-Level and wanted to learn another language at university, so my degree was in Spanish, Portuguese and Hispanic Studies. I was given the opportunity to live abroad with this degree, so I worked in Madrid for 6 months and studied in Rio de Janeiro for 7 months. This opportunity provided me with knowledge and skills that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I enhanced my communication skills, became more adaptable and resilient, and learned how to truly seize the day!

Why did you apply to the MDS graduate scheme?

I am adaptable, proactive, resilient, and keen to learn new things! I’ve always enjoyed getting outside of my comfort zone. I also wanted to gain a management and leadership qualification to complement my previous work experience. I’m comfortable leading or managing a team/group of people in different settings, and I wanted to gain more specific knowledge of this whilst working in a completely different sector. I knew that it would be a challenge, not having any previous experience in the industry, but this sense of being outside my comfort zone appealed to me! During my time in Brazil, I became very interested in the fresh produce industry as the fruit varieties are so exotic and different to that in the UK and the rest of Europe. This sparked an interest in the industry.

How have you been able to utilise your skills?

My languages degree enabled me to perfect my interpersonal skills and adaptability and has supported me in my operations role when building relationships with stakeholders. I have launched a project, liaising with all departments at different levels. Thanks to my ability to communicate effectively and adapt, the project has been a huge success. Resilience is key in any industry, but I think it’s particularly useful on MDS. You have to overcome many personal obstacles like being away from home, moving into a new place with people you don’t know and working in a new organisation. It really helps being proactive and self-motivated to learn new things. I have been able to maintain focus and get the job done at times when I didn’t understand the context of the task or project. Reading around the subject is a strategy that has acted as a coping mechanism on MDS as it helps when things become overwhelming. My colleagues and secondment manager value proactive working and have praised this skill.

What would you say to someone considering a career in the industry?

I would say that MDS can open doors for you that you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to access with any other organisation or on your own. The intensity of the programme enables you to quickly adapt to the pace of the industry and learn a wide range of skills and knowledge in several different departments and roles. You are also able to gain a deeper insight into the whole industry. The industry is ever-changing and thrives off innovation – this is where new candidates with fresh perspectives come in! We can support the introduction of innovative approaches. Also, due to the pandemic, the industry is booming now more than ever; therefore, there are endless opportunities to progress and create your own career path. With the introduction of the new MDS development schemes, there are many avenues to explore!

Join MDS: Not just for graduates

MDS has launched two new development programmes to include non-graduate development programmes. Interested in finding out how you can transfer your skills to kick-start a rewarding career in the food supply chain? Take a look at our exciting opportunities today: