I started some 20 years ago in the industry; in that time, I’ve seen how LED lighting technology has really revolutionised the market and taken over from ‘old school’ fluorescent bulbs. The development of LED lighting is amazing, having gone from a small indicator light to being one of the main ways people light their homes, offices, schools and hospitals. And now, indoor farming.
“It’s invigorating to work in one of the most exciting growth sectors”
It goes without saying that the world needs to find better, more sustainable ways of farming. To be involved in a business that is contributing to that narrative, where we’re positioning ourselves at the forefront of one of the most exciting growth sectors providing these innovations is invigorating.
“Tech throws up lots of complexities”
In operations, you need to be quite disciplined, diligent and process driven; to be the glue between specific teams to ensure that collectively, we’re delivering the business’s objectives, be it to stakeholders or customers.
When you’re working in this role, particularly in tech, there are lots of complexities. One of the main things is making sure that the team around you are supportive and collaborative, so that those complex challenges are managed in bite-sized chunks. It’s about having regular, ongoing contact with individuals and teams to ensure we can deliver what we say we’ll deliver or to flag up any risks or challenges. The question often is, how do we overcome any project challenges as a team? Right from our engineers through to our lab, we’ve got quite a diverse skill set within each of the various sectors – vertical farming, glasshouses and polytunnels – across the business. How can we deliver the right solution as a collective?
“Stumbling blocks help define who we are”
I do think there’s always an opportunity to learn from our mistakes and tough challenges in life to use as a springboard to a better self . . . there are a fair amount of stumbling blocks on this journey to overcome which help us define who we are and who we are likely to become. I’ve no complaints about the journey so far and can’t wait to see what’s next!
The people I learn the most from are my sons. Being quite young, their innocence means they approach life without fear and aren’t afraid to jump in with both feet, so I find myself taking a little bit of their bravery and fearless approach to my own role to help me really expand my knowledge of all things horticulture.
The best piece of advice I would give to my 21-year-old self is just to stay true to yourself. You come across many characters that want to influence your decisions but if you stay true to what you believe, then you’ll have no regrets.
“To be part of AgriTech’s future is enthralling”
As AgriTech is very innovations led, there are lots of ideas which we constantly re-evaluate and review, and where possible, improve the way that we do our growing. There’s more of a global shift to evaluate how we produce our food and with that there’s now obviously a lot of investment. I think there’s a lot of excitement in the industry, with inevitable hurdles along the way. However, I think in the next 5-10 years we will see a fundamental change in how we grow, whether it’s reducing carbon by growing locally, or whether it’s through vertical farming and looking at saving water, or if it’s lowering the amount of nutrients we use on crops. There’s also tremendous potential with automation and AI. This is being seen through trials using robots to pick fruit. It’s a monstrous market in size, and I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface of its potential yet. To know that we could be a part of that means that we’re in for a very enthralling ride ahead.