Meet the Alumni: Doug Henderson Award Winners

Meet the Alumni: Doug Henderson Award Winners

What is the Doug Henderson Award?

The best part about the MDS programme is watching Trainees develop within their secondments and celebrating their success! The Doug Henderson Award honours professional development and is presented at Meet the Trainees events. Trainees who are willing to go beyond expectations to demonstrate success are rewarded with the recognition. In memory of Doug Henderson (Chair of MDS from 2004 – 2016), the award was established to celebrate the highest level of leadership ability, personal achievement, excellence in performance and impact on Member organisations. Trainees who receive the award have strived to meet their objectives whilst maintaining the highest standards and going the extra mile when required.

How will this benefit me?

The award sparks a huge amount of interest from all Member companies. They understand the weight of the award, as Trainees who receive it are the definition of the values that Member companies subscribe to under MDS. As a result, Members specifically request the winners for permanent roles. This is also a chance to be included in possible press releases.

January 2020: Alexandros Benakis

Who: Alexandros graduated from the Agricultural University of Athens in 2017 with a Bachelors Degree in Biotechnology. Alex started his first MDS secondment in spring 2018 as a Protected Crops and Vegetative Propagation Assistant with Maelor Forest Nurseries. He moved onto various roles in Production and Marketing with Fyffes, Certis and James Hutton.

The award: Alex received the Doug Henderson Award in January 2020 for approaching every opportunity with enthusiasm and a mature professional attitude. He also received an external award, the prestigious second place Rising Star Target Jobs Award. Alex highlighted the importance of Trainees making the most out of the programme:

“You need to seek opportunities everywhere and always! You never know the treasure behind a closed door until you open it.”

After MDS: Alexandros impressed Certis while in his third secondment. Subsequently, the group 43 alum secured a permanent role with the crop protection solutions company as an International Marketing and Project Officer. Alexandros explained that his experience on MDS has been greatly beneficial:

“The MDS graduate scheme developed my ability to see the ‘big picture’ by opening me up to the opportunity to gain experience in a variety of extremely diverse roles within the sector!”

June 2020: Ellie Churchill

Who: Ellie started her MDS journey in 2018 after graduating from the University of Warwick with a degree in History and Politics. Ellie was new to the food and fresh produce industry. Despite this, she hit the ground running in her first secondment at Frank Roberts in a Project Management role. She went on to experience a range of roles with Kynetec and Corteva.

The award: Ellie received the Doug Henderson award for her consistently positive attitude and professionalism as well as demonstrating ongoing development. Ellie explained how to stand out on MDS:

“My advice would be to take opportunities, work hard to make good impressions with all the companies you work for and take learnings from every experience.”

After MDS: Ellie impressed Corteva in her final secondment. As a result, she secured a position with them as a Farm Engagement and CRM Coordinator. Ellie explained that she has greatly benefited from the MDS programme:

“MDS’ focus on continuous learning has pushed me to continue my development and consider what other qualifications I might want to pursue now I’m at Corteva. Having experience with my Member company has made for an easy transition into a full-time role.”

January 2021: Celia Robles Angel

Who: Celia joined MDS in 2019 after completing a Masters in Biotechnology and Management at the University of Glasgow. On MDS, Celia completed secondments with Accent Fresh, Scottish Agronomy and Syngenta. She was therefore able to gain a huge amount of experience and leave a lasting impression.

The award: Celia received the award in January 2021 for showing the highest level of achievement in her secondments. In addition, she went above and beyond to demonstrate leadership ability. The group 45 alumna explained that for Trainees to be successful on MDS, they need to be proactive:

“Be open-minded, ask questions and embrace new opportunities (of all shapes and sizes). You never know what may come out of it. If you don’t feel like you are being challenged enough, it’s time to challenge yourself!”

After MDS: Celia worked with Syngenta during her final secondments. The group 45 alumna left an impression on the international ag-tech company. As a result, she secured a fantastic permanent role with the organisation as an IT Finance Business Analyst. Celia noted that MDS has helped her long-term career:

“Through MDS, I built my knowledge of the industry and made key contacts. MDS exposed me to new ways of working and different companies, which has proven key in finding my new role.”