Case Study: Rebecca Smith and Valley Produce Ltd
Project duration: 2 years
End date: 05/01/2016
How did you find the support once the partnership began?
The support was great, and it was an incredible help that all partners were so engaged in the project. Everyone shared a responsibility as well as a communal goal, so Valley Produce, the University and the supervisors were always readily available to provide support to me whenever I needed it.
How did the triangular relationship between the business, the University, and yourself result in being a key factor in your development?
The KTC at Reading University was fantastic and were very good in getting in contact with all the partners when it came to things such as the LMCs. My Academic Supervisor was also brilliant, as were Valley Produce Ltd, so the communication was always excellent and everyone worked tirelessly as a team.
Please could you describe the other benefits of becoming an Associate, especially with regard to after the project had finished?
To have that bridging gap between the University and the company is a huge benefit; you get to learn more and more every day from both the corporate and the academic side, so fusing such vast amounts of valuable knowledge from such extensive levels of expertise. Additionally, I had developed quite a broad knowledge of project management from the completion of my PhD, but becoming an Associate provided me with the skills and the support to actually bring this into practice in every day working life.
Being an Associate built my confidence through working with customers, business advisors, researchers and colleagues at the University and Valley Produce. I learnt a whole new skillset outside of my academic training which has helped me now I work for Valley full time.
How do you think being employed under the partnership would differ from a standard postgraduate employment?
Still having a level of contact with the University is a really big difference and a huge benefit when part of a KTP. Going straight from academia to industry you won't have that research side of things and your employment would be more corporate, industry focussed. With a KTP you get a halfway house; you have the benefits of the University's research, the focus on innovation, and the knowledge of the Academics, but you also get to learn first-hand what it's like to work in the industry where the predominate focus is to get a turnover each day.
Would you recommend KTP to other graduates? If so, why?
I would definitely recommend KTP to other graduates. To echo my earlier points, you get all the experience you may need in an industry all the while with the continued support from the Knowledge Transfer Centre and the shared expertise from the University. The development budget is also a huge asset and the training you can get from that to aid your personal growth puts you in such a great position for your future, which is something you simply wouldn't get through other avenues of employment.
What one piece of advice would you give to a graduate considering KTP?
The best piece of advice I could give would be to apply. Talk to the Knowledge Transfer Centre as they have a huge amount of expertise and advice they can share about the project and what it would entail, and if you feel that you have the right skills then definitely apply. It could, as it did for me, work out to be the best career move you can possibly do.
You can read Rebecca's complete case study here.