Explore: Food production

Senior Technical Manager
Humber VHB

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Natasha H

00:00:02 My name’s Tasha Hookham. I work for Humber VHB and I’m their Senior Technical Manager. In the simplest possible way my job involves looking after the quality of the product, working with the growers that supply us with the herbs and also working with our customers. So, our main customers are people like Tescos and Sainsburys. The main part of the job is the quality side and making sure that the product is good enough to go onto the supermarket shelf.

00:00:32 There’s always a challenge in fresh produce. There isn’t a day that’s the same because plants and vegetables and fruit and everything, they don’t grow the same day on day on day. The weather and all sorts of things, airplanes, strikes, French lorry drivers blockading ports. It all has an impact. Immigrants jumping out of your lorry ’cause they’ve been in there for the last three days. So, everyday it’s a little bit different and has a little bit of excitement to it.

00:01:03 When I was younger I was brought up on a sheep farm. So, I actually wanted to be a vet. That was all I really wanted to do when I was growing up. It was sort of a natural progression. I didn’t want to be a sheep farmer but the vet was always around and his job was, seemed quite interesting. And I used to be allowed to go out and help the vet on days and things. So, quite good fun.

00:01:25 The death nail for my dream to be a vet was when I was sitting my mock-A levels and I just worked out that I wasn’t actually going to get the grades that I needed to go and study veterinaryism. At the time I was quite devastated and quite upset and really didn’t know what else I was going to do because I’d planned my sort of whole life at that stage around being a vet. That was to me the one and only natural progression.

00:01:55 There was a natural expectation that I would go to university but it really was just making that decision about, well, what was I going to do at university? And somebody said, well, biology is your best subject, go do biology. I held up the prospectuses to my mother of every college that did biology and said, pick five of them ’cause they have to go on the list. And that’s how my university got chosen. Probably not the best way to do it. Probably with hindsight should have probably put a little bit more thought and care into it but it worked.

00:02:34 I then went and worked as an agricultural economist which I didn’t really enjoy, and there had been a presentation at university by a company called MDS, and they were offering a two-year pace graduate training scheme in the agricultural, horticultural industry. So, I applied for that and was successful. And that really brought me into the whole fresh produce industry.

00:03:03 I’ve brought my Taekwondo black belt because it’s probably the thing in my life I’m actually the most proud of and it’s the one thing I’ve had to really work hard for to achieve and obtain. Probably shouldn’t say but I slept with it under her pillow for a week when I first got it. The job I do can get quite intense at times and quite stressful so it’s nice to have something that’s totally different. The people that you do it with have nothing to do with work and everybody has the same goal. And it just makes me use my brain in a totally different way.

00:03:41 We do have to hit people and I have had my nose broken and I’ve got a cracked foot and all sorts of things but it’s all just part of the game. Once you’ve done something and you know you can do it I find I get a little bit bored so I like to find something new to do. I see myself keep changing and trying new and different things all the time. The ideal for me would be to run my own business one day. I just haven’t worked out what business I want to run yet. ENDS


Natasha H is a Senior Technical Manager growing herbs. “There’s always a challenge in fresh produce. There isn’t a day that’s the same”. The weather, strikes and other issues provide changing problems of getting quality herbs to the customer. Her Tae Kwan Do black belt shows how she overcomes stress.

More information about Chemical scientists

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

78%  male 
22%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

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? Chemical scientists analyse and research physical aspects of chemical structure and change within substances and develop chemical techniques used in the manufacture or modification of natural substances and processed products.
Entrants usually possess a degree. Entry may also be possible with an appropriate BTEC/SQA award, an Advanced GNVQ/GSVQ Level III, or other academic qualifications. Further specialist training is provided on the job. Some employers may expect entrants to gain professional qualifications.
  • Develops experimental procedures, instruments and recording and testing systems;
  • Conducts experiments to identify chemical composition, energy and chemical changes in natural substances and processed materials;
  • Analyses results and experimental data;
  • Tests techniques and processes for reliability under a variety of conditions;
  • Develops procedures for quality control of manufactured products.
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