Helen Ferrier

Chief Science and Regulatory Affairs Adviser

“If you’re willing to go outside your comfort zone, there are endless opportunities to gain experience, knowledge and contacts.”

My role as an adviser is about influencing the research and technology landscape for agriculture and horticulture. There are a lot of different organisations that I regularly deal with, including government departments, research organisations, universities and companies that fund research. I enjoy the opportunity to meet lots of different people at lots of different levels of seniority, right up to CEOs, MPs and top scientists.

You get a lot of autonomy in your role and it gives you the opportunity to decide yourself what the most important thing is to be doing. As you’re considered an expert in your field, you’re given the trust to do that and set your own priorities.

Most of my interaction is with people outside of the NFU and you get a really good opportunity to influence. With the work you do, you’re always generating more opportunities. If you’re willing to go outside your comfort zone, there are endless opportunities to gain experience, knowledge and contacts. For me, I’ve become a trustee of a charitable organisation linked to a key stakeholder and I’m also a member of about 13 other panels and boards. That’s all because of my work at the NFU.

The NFU is a very friendly organisation and it’s the people that make it so effective. Everyone is interested in British farming and want to make sure our members get the best deal they can. There really is a lot of passion. There are so many clever, conscientious and experienced people to learn from, however long you’ve been at the NFU.

It can also be a really flexible organisation. Since I came back from maternity leave eight years ago, I’ve been doing my job part-time three days a week. As long as you’re proactive, delivering for members and staying connected you can achieve a great deal.