Nazli Dag

Nazli Dag

When you started your degree did you know what you wanted to do as a career? Was it just an interesting area that you wanted to pursue?

I knew I wanted to gain experience but I wasn’t sure what I’d want to do once I graduated. I wasn’t 100% sure what was out there but that’s one of the reasons that I applied for some placement jobs which can help before you graduate. I always knew I wanted to do something degree-related, but I wasn’t really sure where I wanted to go.

So you graduated in 2009, explain what happened then?

I was a bit confused when I first graduated. I didn’t really know what direction I wanted to go in. Personally I found it quite difficult because all the food science jobs were based on manufacturing and I didn’t want to live somewhere that was in the middle of nowhere. When I did food science I enjoyed the nutrition part quite a lot more than the more technical side of things so I decided to apply for a graduate scheme. I wasn’t actually successful when I first started applying for jobs but I decided not to give up. I had a job in Turkey for about 6 months which was a very varied role because it involved doing a bit of quality, technical, product development and sales. After that I decided to come back to England and I was contacted about a research project with Wigan council. As soon as I heard about this, I knew it was for me.

So was it a fixed term contract with Wigan Council? What was the purpose of the research project?

The project was aimed at looking at businesses, mainly catering, like pubs and shops and working with them to increase availability of healthy foods in order to reduce the saturated fat, sugar and salt intake of the population who shop from these businesses. The Wigan Council actually had a scheme called The Healthy Business Award and so I was involved in seeing if the award they have is effective. Healthy options can exist but are people choosing it and are people aware of it. So I looked at the businesses’ practises before intervention to make things healthier and then afterwards to see the effects on the customers, like their choice and preference of food. I felt this role gave me the opportunity to help benefit other people, making other peoples’ lives healthier. This role also involved looking at achieving fat and saturated fat reduction in meat pies without affecting the taste and texture which involved working with a manufacturer who supplied many retailers.

So what are you doing now?

I was offered a role at Morrisons Head office initially working as Assistant Nutritionist and after 9 months I was promoted working as a Nutritionist. I applied for this role because Morrisons is the fourth biggest retailer and the second biggest food manufacturer; so they do actually produce their own food products as well. A lot of my work involves working on implementation and reporting of the Government’s responsibility deal pledges such as provision of calories at out of home environment and 2012 Salt reduction targets. The nutrition team also works on internal nutrition policies to ensure our products are nutritionally credible and we can communicate the best possible nutritional information to our customers including those products made or prepared in store. I like this role since it involves working across all food categories and with many teams across the business. One of my biggest achievements was to launch our web site with nutritional information was Morrisons Market Street products. I believe I could not have done this role without my degree.

And the progression is good within a large company like Morrisons. Would you still like to stay more in the practical side, or do you have ambitions of becoming more sales or marketing, moving into Managerial positions? Where does the future go?

I’d like to be more involved in the research and applying it into the products. I’d like to see an outcome. Here in Leeds you do get a very good background into how to do research and how to find new methods, and it’s good to apply that to products in work environment. I’d like to apply the research and science that I’ve learnt at Leeds and produce some products that everyone could benefit from. I am also currently working on getting registered as a Nutritionist with the Association for Nutrition. 

When you were applying for jobs when you finished your degree, although you didn’t find anything that suited you, do you think there was a lot available?

Yes. I found the careers centre really useful actually. I did a module in Career Development where you could do a module where you get more interviews and they have a look at your CV. You have to apply for a job that doesn’t actually exist but it’s to see how you apply for the job, what your reactions are to the questions they ask and they use mock interviews.  The School also had lots of big employers come and give talks. We got e-mails from employers and you could do search yourself just going on employers websites. I found that there were lots of opportunities but it depends on what kind of area you want to go into. I think the e-mails sent by the department advertising vacancies which were relevant to Food Science and Nutrition students were very useful since that is how I got my placement experience and jobs including my current role.