Wednesday 12 August 2015

2Inspire Inspirational Woman: Milly Fyfe - Promoting Diversity in Agriculture

In this inspirational Woman Profile we interview Milly Fyfe, a woman who ploughed her way into agriculture. Quoted by Radio 4's women's hour and former NFYFC Chairman and road safety advocate, this country loving sweetheart is passionate about the promotion of British Agriculture and the diversity in career opportunities available.

Please tell us what is a typical business day for you? 

No two days are ever the same for me. I love having the variety that all my various roles bring. From helping on the farm, to delivering a presentation on the work of R.A.B.I, writing for the media or attending an Agricultural show. My feet are firmly based within the grassroots of the farming industry, supporting those who produce the food we eat, listening and communicating why everyone should care.

What made you start the business and how did you get started?

I'm not from a farming background although I was brought up in a rural community and spent many an evening making dens in straw bales and helping neighbouring farmers during lambing time.

It was when I joined the local young farmers club at the age of 14 that I realised my passion and wanted to pursue a career in Agriculture. After studying a business and management degree whilst working for a development charity, I landed a role with R.A.B.I the national farming charity and have held the role for over 7 years. I thrive in the role. I oversee the fundraising, marketing and communications for the charity across 6 counties in the East Midlands. I love interacting with people and communicating the importance of why farming matters.

When I'm not working I support my husband's farming enterprise with 100 beef suckler cows, 300 sheep and arable crops (mainly barley, wheat and grass) And to top that, I produce my own pork and have started to cultivate the farm garden with an abundance of vegetables. I guess you could say I'm a jack of many trades, or maybe its just because I like to turn my hand to most things.

What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date?

In 2014 I was awarded the Inspirational award for Women due to my commitments to the charity sector and the advocacy work I undertake for numerous food and farming
based organisations. It was wonderful to be recognised for all the work that I take part in, mostly unpaid, because I am motivated and want to make a difference. I generally spend the majority of my annual leave on voluntary based activity

What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?

A lot of people say to me it must be challenging being a women working in Agriculture. Whilst it is an industry that is dominated by men, we are seeing more and more women take up leadership roles within the sector. Three years ago I became chairman for the National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs leading 24,000 young people from rural backgrounds, representing their views to people that matter. I would like to think that I have and continue to encourage and inspire young people to follow in my footsteps.

My biggest challenge is not my gender but my age. From a young age I have always pushed and challenged myself. My life motto is dare to be different and this has seen me achieve many things at a relatively young age. I therefore feel that I have to provide confidence that I can deliver because with youth brings the perception of inexperience.

What are your future plans for the business?

Having married a farmer, I have lots of plans for the future! I was fortunate to receive funding from the Henry Plumb foundation to conduct a project looking at adding value to rare breed pig meat. I went on a butchery course, had my own pigs and processed my own sausages. I'd like to set up a cutting room and classroom at the farm and run my own small holding and cookery courses. I'd also like to further my education with an MBA and also try and fit in some more farm based tours and conference overseas. Its good to share experiences and explore what others are involved with around the globe.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

Learn how to delegate! I'm very much a 'yes' person and thrive on all the opportunities that are out there. However I don't always anticipate in reality what I've got on my plate and whilst I'm great at multi-tasking, I know I'm not super-human. Its very easy to burn out.
Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?
I was never given very good careers advice at school which still frustrates me today. I love to learn but I don’t look back at my secondary school year and think that they set me up for the future. I therefore feel that it is my duty to inspire others, especially young women, to consider Agriculture as a career. Social media is fantastic for promoting this. And there is such a diversity in career choices within the industry that until you scratch the surface can be misleading or perceived that its for men only. Marketing, bio technology, engineering, science, policy making, animal health... I could go on.

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?

Be resilient. Be prepared to take a few knock backs, learn from them and keep your goals firmly in sight.

What or who inspires you in business and why?

Social entrepreneurs inspire me the most. Working selflessly for the benefit of others and making a difference to other peoples lives.

What is your favourite inspirational quote?

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." - Winston Churchill

Milly Fyfe


Twitter: @millywastie

Tel: 07752 989544

Milly is available for public and motivational speaking, media interviews and promotional opportunities.

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