Young career starters wow produce and foodservice experts at Fresh Careers Fair
Emily Bright winning the Produce Dragon award from Nigel Jenney chief executive of FPC.

Young career starters wow produce and foodservice experts at Fresh Careers Fair

Gill McShane

Carol Borhani of Angel HR announcing the Foodservice Dragon winner with Sharon Linney of CH&Co (left) at Fresh Careers Fair 2019
Carol Borhani of Angel HR announcing the Foodservice Dragon winner with Sharon Linney of CH&Co (left).

Two outstanding career starters impressed a highly-experienced line-up of fresh produce and foodservice judges with their career aspirations at The Fresh Careers Fair 2019, held yesterday (13 March) in London, each winning an iPad mini for their sterling efforts.

Emily Bright, a food business management and marketing undergraduate from Newcastle University, and Sam Bailey, a travel and tourism, business and accounting graduate from Guildford College, entered the fresh produce and foodservice versions respectively of the hotly-contested Dragon’s Den-style competition at the annual recruitment fair for the fresh food and drink sectors. 

Participants presented both their academic and/or career progress to date and their employment goals for the future during a short two-to-three-minute elevator-style pitch. All participants had the chance to practise their interview technique, and to receive constructive feedback, plus expert advice from the two panels of friendly judges.

Produce Winner

Winning over the produce judges with her enthusiasm and passion for food was Bright, a second-year student from Newcastle University’s School of Environmental Sciences, who has a keen interest in buying, marketing and events.

“It’s been a really exciting and useful day,” a thrilled Bright told PBUK after receiving the special recognition award.

“Almost every single stand I have visited has offered me something; whether that’s a day’s work experience, a work placement or contact details. I’ve found out about new opportunities I didn’t know existed. I don’t know what I want to do in the future but I do know I want to remain in the food industry!” 

Karen Sharples, HR Director for the UK Wholesale Division of Total Produce, was one of the judges who interviewed Bright. Sharples shared the role of produce dragon with her colleague Sarah Trowbridge, HR Director for the UK Retail Division of Total Produce. 

Their fellow long-serving produce industry judges were: Christopher Mack, chairman of the Fresca Group, and Nigel Jenney, CEO of the Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC).

“Emily was very structured and enthusiastic,” Sharples explained. “After her initial pitch, she was able to converse at ease, and to interact with us and our suggestions.

“She is very passionate about the food industry too. Her mother has a potato business and she has taken an active role, even shadowing her mother at meetings. Because the food industry is so broad, we encouraged her to keep her options open so she can explore all the possibilities.”

Bright is currently looking for a work placement before starting her final year at university. 

Foodservice Dragons interviews at Fresh Careers Fair 2019

Foodservice Dragons interviews at Fresh Careers Fair 2019

Foodservice Winner 

Just as inspiring was excellent communicator Sam Bailey, a 19-year-old graduate from Guildford College, who brimmed with confidence. Eager to build a life-long career in hospitality, Bailey not only walked away from The Fresh Careers Fair with an iPad mini but a handful of fantastic job offers. 

“My goal is to progress with a career in the hospitality industry,” he remarked. “The hospitality trend will never die because it covers the three things all humans will have to do for the rest of their life – eat, drink and sleep.

“It’s been really engaging coming to this event. There is a lot of potential for employment and career progression, and finding paths that you didn’t know about. There are so many different roles available.”

Returning as a foodservice dragon for the second year, Sharon Linney, Operations Director at CH&Co, said Bailey truly stood out.

“Sam was well prepared, smart, positive, confident and had really good communication skills, plus his presentation skills were very good,” she recalled. “He’s already working in hospitality and he knows the direction in which he wants to go.” 

Fellow foodservice dragon Carol Borhani, a Company Director at Angel Human Resources, agreed Bailey was an excellent candidate.

“Sam was very confident and a great communicator,” she said. “Nothing seemed to phase him considering his age. He didn’t stumble on any questions we asked him. I’m sure he’ll be snapped up quickly! 

Bailey’s passion for the industry also struck a chord with the third foodservice dragon David Cole, who is the Head of Catering at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

“Sam knows what he wants, and the world is his oyster,” Cole predicted. “You’ve got to have a love for catering, and he has it.”

Linney added that once again the foodservice panel had interviewed a “real mix of good quality candidates”. “They have been inquiring, motivated, positive and they have asked good questions,” she commented.

The Fresh Careers Fair 2019 took place on 13 March 2019 at the Business Design Centre in London.

Read PBUK’s full post-event report here.

Sponsored by The Worshipful Company of Fruiterers and the Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC), the recruitment fair was hosted by the organisers of the award-winning The London Produce Show and Conference, which takes place on 5-7 June 2019. 

To participate at The Fresh Careers Fair 2020, email Linda Bloomfield.



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