Have a curious mind, never give up and always be positive. Don’t be afraid of having a hands-on approach - without getting your hands dirty in this sector, you will never get anywhere.
HND International Agriculture
Alin Borleanu is the Field Trials Manager for NIAB, the UK’s fastest-growing crop science organisation, with rapidly-expanding research capabilities in plant genetics, agronomy, farming systems and data science, the largest national field trials capability, and strong research links with industry, government and academia. Employing more than 300 people across the UK, NIAB provides scientific research, technical services and practical advice to improve the yield, efficiency and resilience of crop production across the arable, forage and horticulture sectors. It is a not-for-profit organisation with headquarters in Cambridge and regional offices across the country.
Alin came to study at Hadlow College after studying at the University of Craiova in his home country of Romania. He says: “After visiting the college for an initial chat with one of the lecturers, and after reading a few reviews about the college, I was very excited to study at Hadlow. Also at the time, I was working for a local farm in soft fruit production, and Hadlow College was in the next village, so it was very convenient for me.”
He recalls some of his favourite aspects of the course: “It provided the opportunity to learn about novel crops, which in other parts of the world are not novel at all. In June 2010, we went on a study tour to France, where we had the opportunity to see some of the local farms and their farming systems.”
“Meeting other international students on the course made everything more interesting and captivating. Everyone had a different perspective of agriculture - and getting to know their perspective opened up new horizons for myself and made me think more outside the box.”
His overall memories of studying at Hadlow are hugely positive: “It helped me with improving my English skills a lot, through learning all the agricultural terminology. In addition, it gave me the courage to go out there and put out my CV to more employers.”
After leaving Hadlow, Alin continued working for the local farm for another season then applied for a job as a Trials Officer in soft fruit production with another local company. He says, “Following a few years working with them, I wanted to do something else other than soft fruit production, and I found a job with NIAB. I applied and was successful.”
In 2016, following a couple of years working for NIAB, Alin was offered a job opportunity as a soft fruit farm manager in Australia. He worked out there for a year before having to return to the UK for personal reasons. He says: “I’d very much enjoyed my time with NIAB before leaving for Australia, so I got in contact with them to see what the prospects of getting my old job back were, and now I’m working again with them as a Field Trials Manager.
“My role involves the day-to-day running of a regional trials centre (Kent), and together with my team, we’re running all the regional trials for NIAB. Since NIAB merged with East Malling Research in 2016, our offices were relocated to East Malling, and we are managing fruit trials as well.”
Asked about his career highlights, Alin replies: “I think running the regional trials centre for a prestigious company such as NIAB is more than I ever dreamt of. You get to meet many customers, some of them big names in the agriculture and horticulture industry. In addition, some of the projects we manage are on an international scale, which makes things more exciting.”
Does he have any advice to others seeking a similar role to his own? ”Have a curious mind, never give up and always be positive. Don’t be afraid of having a hands-on approach - without getting your hands dirty in this sector, you will never get anywhere. Finally, dare to try - you never know what will be your dream job.”