Elizabeth Barrett is store supervisor at Mole Country Stores in Fauld, Burton on Trent. She also won the Outstanding Customer Service Award in the National SQP Awards 2018. Here, she tells us her inspiring story of how from adversity, she has developed a successful career doing exactly what she loves…
Q. What was your background before qualifying, and what inspired you to train to become an AMTRA SQP?
Before joining Mole Country Stores, I worked full-time on two local farms, on a voluntary basis, in order to gain experience and develop a career. From a young age I knew that I wanted to have a career in the agricultural sector. I was hoping to finish school and go on to university to study and become a Vet. However, unfortunately the dream of that ended when I had to leave school aged 14 due to ongoing bullying issues.
I knew that I would struggle to find a job with no GCSEs, but I was determined not to let it stop me. Hence why I started on a local farm aged 16, to gain hands on experience. The first farm was a mixed breed sheep farm, with approximately 2500 ewes. I joined during lambing and stayed on for two years learning all aspects of sheep farming year-round.
With my confidence ever increasing, I decided to move to another farm, this time being a small pedigree Texel flock of 60, and 270 highland cattle, primarily used for showing and breeding. Again, a full-time voluntary position. I stayed on for 5 years and loved it.
During the time there, I looked after all health records for the animals, and worked with the vet on any complications, finding the best way to tackle the issue. We had a spell of BVD, LEPTOSPIROSIS and JOHNES which was of great interest and I began doing research to find out more in-depth information into the problems. It was then I realised I had such a passion and interest for animal health.
I am currently a qualified R-SQP and store supervisor at Mole Country Stores, Fauld. This year I also got the opportunity to be temporary stand-in manager during maternity cover. I joined Mole Country Stores in June 2015, as store admin. I was soon gaining confidence and ready to progress in my career. I applied to be store supervisor, and achieved that in January 2016, and soon after got the opportunity to be put through my AMTRA qualification. I qualified in April 2016.
Q. What do you feel is the most important aspect of your role as an AMTRA SQP?
For me the most important part of being an AMTRA SQP is the customer service. If you can adapt to the customer’s personality, you build the element of trust and can have an open conversation with them. They gain respect for you as an advisor, and will then come to you for any problems on their farm in future. I believe this is a big thing, as many farmers do not want to disclose they may have resistance or scab issues on farm, for example, due to a feeling they haven’t given the best care, or they may damage their reputation. However, by adapting to them and taking a genuine interest in their farm, what is going on, and providing information and advice, you become their go-to person.
Q. What are the most important skills and qualities you must demonstrate?
The main one for me is passion for the job you are doing. I personally do not believe you should be an AMTRA SQP if you do not have a passion in wanting what is best for the animal and farm. You can make such a difference by sharing your knowledge, enthusiasm and experience with a farmer. It is extremely rewarding when a farmer comes to store and thanks you, or another comes in on recommendation. For me, that is what being an AMTRA SQP is all about.
Q. How do you feel your status as SQP will help develop your career?
Immensely! I have so much more confidence and passion for my job, and it is extremely rewarding. I have won the Outstanding Customer Service Award 2018, and was finalist for the Store Manager of the Year in the 2019 National SQP Awards.
I regularly get some fantastic feedback from customers, and this is due to being able to help them and educate them. Not just tell them what to do, but take the time to explain why, offer on farm support, even if I am not at work, and just being a go-to person for all their needs.
It has encouraged me to always go for more, and never settle. I strive to continue improving my skills and knowledge and have the confidence to do so now. I honestly think since becoming an AMTRA SQP, it has shaped me into the confident bubbly person I am today, from the lady I was before who wouldn’t talk to anyone and was shy!
Elizabeth Barrett is store supervisor at Mole Country Stores, Fauld