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MorePeople 5 Questions - Stephen Jacob

5 months ago by

​With a successful career within horticulture and agriculture starting as a strawberry picker, Stephen spent 7 years as CEO of BASIS, before becoming CEO of TIAH last June.

Here’s his answers to our 5 Questions!

What's the single biggest challenge facing our industry today?

We talk a lot about attracting and retaining the next generation, but I actually think that it’s just as important that we all have the skills and ability to thrive in tomorrow’s world. Life and business is so dynamic that we all need to adopt a philosophy of lifelong learning with access to intuitive training and professional development tools that will become essential in keeping our knowledge and skills current.

What do you think the next big product / piece of tech will be?

I would like it to be a Transporter (think StarTrek), but until physicists have perfected teleportation, I think that it is most likely to be augmented reality. Many of us find it unthinkable to go anywhere without our smartphones, and augmented technologies will undoubtedly find their way into our everyday lives. Using augmented reality, farmers and growers will be able to monitor field conditions, quickly spot pest infestations or nutrient deficiencies, train their workers, and so much more!

What do you like most about our industry?

We are very much still working in an industry that is built on relationships. I value my friendships and associations enormously. At the end of the day, we’re all dedicated to growing, processing, transporting, or selling nutritious food that is produced economically, and to the highest environmental standards. I’m proud to be part of it.

What was your first ever job in our industry?

My very first proper job in our industry was as a Wheat Breeding Assistant for the Plant Breeding International, Cambridge (Unilever). However, my first paid employment was straight out of school as a strawberry picker. 5am starts accompanied by a soundtrack of Skylarks ascending! I saved up, bought a motorcycle, and my employment prospects grew enormously overnight.

What piece of advice would you like to give to your 21-year-old self?

Life is for living. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Because at the end of the day, what’s the worst that could happen?