Kirsty Barden

Head of Business Development

Kirsty Barden brings 15 years of experience in the food and fresh produce industry and a passion for education and professional development. As the Head of Business Development at Management Development Services (MDS), she leads the acquisition of talented new trainees and manages relationships with key industry partners. With a wealth of experience and a strong track record of success, Kirsty has been key to growing MDS’ annual intake from 20 to over 60 trainees.

Kirsty has been instrumental in increasing trainee and member numbers by 100%+ during her tenure, leading a redesign of the recruitment process to increase the programme’s appeal to diverse candidates. She spearheads the company’s trainee and member engagement efforts, regularly addressing audiences at universities, careers fairs and industry forums to promote the MDS programme and build a pipeline of talent aligned with the needs of the industry.

Kirsty’s career began when she became a trainee on the prestigious MDS programme, giving her first-hand experience in various facets of the food and fresh produce industry. Following her training, she worked in the agricultural industry, where she focused primarily on New Product Development (NPD) and procurement. With a keen interest in data analysis and a deep understanding of market demands, Kirsty played a pivotal role in building sustainable growth with large retail customers.

Recognising her passion for helping others and her natural aptitude for teaching, Kirsty made a transition to become a Special Educational Needs (SEN) tutor and Boarding House Mistress. Before re-joining MDS, she dedicated herself to making a positive impact in the lives of students with varied learning needs. In this role, she demonstrated her interpersonal skills, empathy, and patience, ensuring each student received tailored support and guidance to reach their full potential.

Kirsty holds a BSc (Hons) in Forensic Science from Staffordshire University and achieved a PGC in Food and Fresh Produce Management from Harper Adams University. She is currently studying towards a Professional Digital Marketing Diploma at the Oxford College of Marketing.