Hazel has a degree in Business Languages and Business Management from Napier University and has over 13 years of marketing and communications experience. Starting out in the Scottish tourism industry, she moved on to work for a water management company, thereafter in the renewable energy industry. She specialises in events management, organising everything from small, specialist workshops to large, international exhibitions and supporting these events with targeted marketing campaigns.
What inspired you to become involved in aquaculture?
As with most jobs throughout my career, it’s the role that inspired me, rather than the specific sector. As a marketer, you tend to move around different sectors, picking up skills and experiences. Of course, some people will stay in one sector and that becomes their particular specialism, sometimes the type of marketing you’re involved in becomes your forté – B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer). I had worked in renewables and the oil and gas / water treatment industry (B2B) prior to working at SAIC, so I feel at ease working with subject matters that are technical, rather than for the general public. I was really interested in working at SAIC because of the nature of the organisation – facilitating collaborations between academia and industry, knowledge exchange and nurturing the new up and coming talent. All of this seemed so positive to me.
Which individuals or organisations in aquaculture have you found particularly inspirational?
Inspiring me on a regular basis are my team – Head of Marketing and Communications, Benedikte Ranum and Graphic Designer, David MacFarlane. Benedikte is like the guiding light that keeps our team heading in the right direction and I always feel at ease and ready to tackle tasks after one of our brainstorming sessions. David’s creativity is something that I can always count on – with the briefest of briefs, he’s able to create collateral that I would have spent days trying to come up with. What’s more, they are both entirely unflappable and that is what I need around me!
More specifically in the aquaculture sector, Teresa Garzon at Patogen (and WiSA co-chair) is one of the nicest people I’ve met and worked with – she’s always so positive and helpful and unfalteringly knowledgeable. I loved the talk she gave at a WiSA event last year which really made me sit up and listen – she talked about “misplaced guilt” that you have for “taking time off” to have children but that your skills and experience are still valid. Teresa has amazing academic and industry experience and to hear this from someone like her made me re-think things a bit. I had been quite guilty of saying, almost apologetically, “I only work part-time”, like it made my contribution less worthy. I suppose what I am trying to convey when I say this is to manage your expectations in terms of how much I can get done in a three-day week, because in previous roles, where I had come down from working full-time to part-time after having children, it was just expected that I completed that full-time job in less days (but of course, not get paid the same).
I’m a mum of two; a six-year old boy and a three-year old girl. My husband is currently studying at university and has a part-time job and we have a dog. I once read that mums work the equivalent of two and a half full time jobs so it’s important to remember that even if you “only” work part-time in employment, you are also “working” the rest of time, raising and caring for your family (including pets), maintaining (as best you can!) your home and trying to look after yourself in the process!
How important has networking been to your career?
I am terrible at networking, to be honest! I am an introvert and have pushed myself to overcome shyness since I was at school. I have tried not to let it get in the way of achieving what I set out to and for the most part, it has worked and I have made some really good connections over the years. At events, I tend to buzz around managing all the logistics and that’s where I am most comfortable but networking is an inevitable (and very important) part of events and I do really see the value in it. Unfortunately, when I do speak to people at events, I tend to waffle on about random stuff, so if you’ve been unlucky enough to be on the receiving end of this, I apologise profusely! In seriousness though, I definitely encourage everyone to network, whether that is in person or just on LinkedIn – I have had several opportunities come my way as a result of a connection so it’s well worth pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.
During your career, have you noticed inequalities in the sector, be it in policies or culture?
I have seen inequalities in every sector I have worked in, unfortunately. I do think aquaculture is much more progressive than some others and I see both the aquaculture and renewables industries as being “young” – lots of promising talent coming through and making names for themselves early in their careers. There is definitely room for young people to shine in those areas, I think.
However, what I have experienced and have witnessed is the belief that women are “fair cop” when it comes to passing remarks. There have been uninvited and unwelcome comments from male colleagues (and people I have never even met before) on my appearance (both complimentary and not so, equally unwelcome) and that of other women I have worked with. What does how we look have to do with how we do our jobs? Absolutely nothing at all. We have to remember that and not allow such exchanges to put us off our game.
What is your proudest aquaculture-related achievement to date?
Being part of the team that delivered the Aquaculture Supply Chain Summit in 2019. This event was planned in addition to SAIC’s strategic plan so this was an “extra” for me. It quite quickly took up a great deal of my time and I loved working with all the different partners and helping to create the collateral for what turned out to be a really successful event involving a large cross-section of the industry.
More recently, the Countdown to COP26 event which was put together by the Innovation Centres in partnership with The Herald. This event was huge with over 2,000 delegates signed up and six concurrent sessions, of which SAIC hosted Sustainable Food from Land and Sea. The SAIC team approached some really excellent speakers from aquaculture, agriculture, academia and retail and I was really proud of the programme we put together. This was an entirely online event and this has been such a learning curve for me as I love the “buzz” of a physical event and all the planning that goes into it. There is no less planning in an online event, there are just different tasks to complete (or different ways of doing them) and one of the most positive things to come from having to go online is the level of engagement that you manage to get with audiences that you perhaps normally wouldn’t.
What advice would you give to someone (man or woman) looking to start a career in the aquaculture sector, or progress their existing career?
I would say go for it – it’s such a diverse, interesting sector with a huge variety of different jobs – just check out the New Wave of Talent campaign for examples of these, that both men and women are excelling in! There are lots of different paths into the industry too, it doesn’t have to be a degree, or an apprenticeship that opens the door for you – there are lots of great companies that invest in their employees with opportunities to climb the ladder.Read more interviews