DYW Key Workers: Hilary Turnbull

Hilary Turnbull applied for the MOWI Graduate Management Programme which gave her a fantastic insight into the industry, an opportunity to gain new skills and experience working alongside some very passionate people. Hilary describes her experience of being a key worker below:

What attracted you to the industry you are in?

I saw the Graduate programme as an opportunity to marry together my degree, previous management experience and love of where I now live, whilst also offering me a fantastic insight into the industry, an opportunity to gain new skills and experience of workingalongside some very passionate people.

Describe your day-to-day role.

Every day is different. We can be doing harvests, feeding, routine repairs and maintenance. The sites can get fairly battered by the wind!

What kind of training have you done?

We’ve been really fortunate that training is an integral part of the Graduate programme. I’ve been put through all relevant boat safety courses, taken part in innovation workshops, am now in the process of completing a short course with UHI and I’m now certified to drive a telehandler! Unfortunately we had a few courses cancelled because of Covid-19 but hopefully we can get those rearranged.

What skills have you learned?

A whole host of new skills from knot tying, safe fish handlingand boat manoeuvring. I’ve learnt skills in fish biology, dissections and taking bloods.

Have you completed any professional qualifications?

I’m currently in the process of completing a CPD in Aquaculture Management with the UHI, an online course that we can complete alongside work.

What skills are the most important for you to do your job well?

Flexibility is key in fish farming, our work is so impacted by the weather that plans can change at short notice and you have to be able to adapt to that. As food producers, we’re also working to the demands of the industry so that can also cause changes at the last minute.

Is there anything unusual about your role?

I think the Graduates are unique within Mowi but also the industry as a whole in that we are exposed to all aspects of the industry. We’ve had placements at all stages of the farming process, from the hatchery through to harvest. It gives us a unique insight into the industry as a whole.

Do you get a lot of support from your company?

Yes, as Graduates we have a dedicated Manager and he’s always on the end of the phone should we need anything. He signs us up for all relevant courses and training and continually seeks to further our experience in the programme.

We’ve been having regular catch ups on Microsoft Teams during lockdown.

What is your favourite part of the job?

As part of our programme, we’ve been able to visit lots of sites which I’ve really enjoyed. It is great to meet managers across the company and chat about their individual sites as no two are the same, what works on one does not necessarily work well on another – this is something I hope to take with me as I move through my career.

Did you always want to pursue a career in this industry?

Not necessarily fish farming, I studied Biology at University as I’d always really enjoyed it and had a great teacher at school. However, I ended up doing hotel management after graduation which I also loved. When I saw the programme advertised with Mowi, I thought it was a fab way to marry together my degree and management experience to allow me to continue to live and work in the Western Isles.

What is your career goal?

The ultimate aim of the Graduate programme is to become a sea site manager. What comes after that – who knows!

How does it feel to be a Keyworker on the frontline, supporting the Country’s fight against Covid-19?

Great! I’ve been proud to continue working and keep food production going. I’ve also really appreciated being able to go to work during lockdown, as it has maintained my sense of normality and routine.


For more information regarding how to get involved with the Key Workers Campaign and DYW West Highland, contact the team on: [email protected] / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / LinkedIn