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Nick Hughes

Food Policy
Nick Hughes

The MSc provided invaluable context to my work on sustainable diets.

Where do you work?

I have two jobs - 2.5 days a week working as a Food Sustainability Adviser for WWF and the remaining 2.5 days a week working as a freelance writer specialising in food policy.

What inspired you to study Food Policy?

At the time of signing up for the course I was solely working as a freelance journalist and my original aim was to use the course to strengthen my knowledge of the subject in order to inform my future writing.

What is your current role and what does it involve?

My WWF role involves leading the technical aspect of our partnership with the contract caterer Sodexo developing a range of sustainable meals (meals that are good for health and for the environment).

How has Postgraduate study helped you secure your position?

Whilst studying for the MSc I applied for a fixed-term role in the civil service as I thought it would be a good opportunity to work at the coal face of food policy whilst also studying the subject. I believe the fact I was studying Food Policy was a key factor in me getting the Defra role which consequently was key to me securing my current role with WWF. It also helps that WWF's food manager knows and respects the Food Policy course.

What is the most useful skill you use on a day to day basis from your degree?

Aside from benefiting from the wide network of people that surrounds the MSc, the course provides invaluable context to my work on sustainable diets (not least because Tim Lang is the doyen of the subject). It also taught me that no issue is black and white and - in all of my work - to think very carefully about the different actors in the food chain, their motivations and the bigger forces that shape the food system. In terms of my journalism I probably take a slightly more academic approach to writing than I did in the past.

What impact have prominent staff had on your experience?

All of the staff added enormously to the experience in their different ways. Tim's enthusiasm for the subject is infectious and his experience of working at the heart of government food policy over many years adds rich context to his lectures. The network of people that one has access to via the Centre for Food Policy is of incalculable value when seeking opportunities beyond the course.

What would you say to somebody thinking about studying a postgraduate degree?

Don't hesitate if you're passionate about the subject, but do make sure you have a genuine motivation for taking the MSc rather than it being simply a means of extending your studies. I wouldn't have gained half of what I did from the course had I taken it straight after my undergraduate degree.

Finally, while the financial outlay may put some people off you have to think of this as an investment for your future and if you want to pursue a career in food policy there is no better investment.

Hear Nick talk about his time at City and how the masters course helped him prepare for a variety of roles surrounding Food Policy.