Francesca Foreman – BSc (Hons) Environmental Science; MSc Applied Marine Science graduate

Current Employer: Tesco Plc

Current Job Title: Technical Manager 

Current Location: St Albans, Hertfordshire

“I learned a lot of great transferable skills whilst at Plymouth. Just having a science degree in my line of work is really important... Although I don’t work in a field directly related to my degree, I do use a lot of the transferable skills in my day job.”
How has your degree helped/influenced your career path?

Just having a degree has been a necessity for most of the jobs for which I’ve applied; having a science background has also really helped. Although I don’t work in a field directly related to my degree, I do use a lot of the transferable skills in my day job. Having good computer skills such as Excel has been really important and being able to work independently and as part of a team is something I also had a lot of experience with at university.

Has your career path changed since graduation?

Yes! I was never exactly sure of what I wanted to do, but I had always thought it would be something environmental or marine based. Having done some temporary jobs and voluntary work in related fields, I’ve decided to go into a different line of work - although there have been a few environmental projects in which I’ve been involved. I am now working in a new role at Tesco, although at first glance it doesn't seem related to my field I am managing an area called Home Essentials, within the Household and Pet team. I am responsible for the technical specifications and supplier relationship of many plastic products (bin bags, cling film, etc.) and there is so much scope for sustainability work. My highlights are looking at recycled content on plastic products and aiming for 100% recycled on them (in some cases already meeting this and actually have a closed loop process). I am working with environmental NGOs to understand how we can help with problems they find and also work to develop better bioplastic solutions.

What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?

Not knowing in which direction to go with my career. This can be really hard as I felt like I should know what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I had friends at school that knew from day one they would be a doctor or lawyer but I was never 100% sure.

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

No one thing stands out in particular, but every day my job is different and I love that. Some days it’s more of an office job whilst others I’m out and about to all sorts of different places. Even if I’m in the office there’s always something going on. Most recently we had (Andrex) Labrador puppies come to the office for a cuddle and next week we’re all taking the day out for a Race for Life event.

What, if anything, would you do differently if you could?

I would have explored more career options sooner and looked for jobs I’d never heard of before. At school, you’re pushed to choose a career path and stick to it but for me, that wasn’t the right way to go about it and I think it limited me. I never explored other options because I was told to choose what I wanted to do and stick at that. I would have done work experience in lots of different areas: at least if you hate it, you know what you don’t want to do.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the same line of work?

I’m sure it’s the same thing that everyone says but get work experience. It doesn’t hurt to ask and once you speak to people they’re often happy to help if they can. Don’t be scared to pick up the phone or even go in person and ask for an opportunity. Also, be prepared to start right at the bottom; so many people graduate expecting to jump into an amazing role but, unfortunately, that often isn’t the case. If you work hard and prove yourself you’ll find that’s recognised and you progress pretty quickly.

How did studying at Plymouth help you?

I always knew that I didn’t want to study in London as I grew up there and wanted to get to know somewhere new. For me, Plymouth was such a change to where I’m from: it was great to experience something different. There were loads of great societies and sports to try out which helped you to meet new people. It’s in a great location and it’s easy to explore loads of different towns and places like Dartmoor.

What lessons/skills did you gain from your course?

I learned a lot of great transferable skills whilst at Plymouth. Just having a science degree in my line of work is really important. On the course, we learned lots of advanced computer skills, which has also helped. We did lots of group work, report writing, and presentations which have allowed me to demonstrate different skills during job interviews.

What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?

Definitely our field trip to Malaysia! It was so much fun and really helped me get to know everyone even better.

Would you recommend undertaking a course with the University of Plymouth, and why?

Yes, especially if you’re not from Devon as it’s a great place to live and explore. There are loads of opportunities to try new sports and other activities and I had some really great lecturers who supported me during my degree.

Is there anything else which you would like to share with our current students?

Just make the most of everything and remember to enjoy yourself too! I’m sure people say it all the time but it’s true that you never get as many opportunities given to you as when you’re at university, so make the most of it all.

Inspired by this story?

For more information about our range of marine science courses within the School of Biological and Marine Sciences, please visit the school page.

Want to find similar alumni?

If you would like to find out what other relevant alumni are currently doing, please visit the marine, earth, geography and environment interest area.