PG student

Nnenna Unamma

What course are you studying?

I am studying for an MSc in Food Quality and Innovation

Why did you decide to study a masters at the University of Leeds?

The University of Leeds was one of the few schools that was offering MSc courses related to food product development in the UK at the time I made my application. It had a good reputation, ranking top 15 in the UK and 2nd for Food Science studies. Therefore, I decided that it was the best choice for my Masters degree.

What has been the best aspect of studying on your course and at the University so far and why?

The University of Leeds is located right at the centre of Leeds. Everything is nearby, the shopping centres, the train station, the airport, many social activities, etc. So you get to mix in some play time with all that study time.

The best aspect of the Food Quality and Innovation course is the teamwork, because, in the real world, that counts a lot. It has given me an opportunity to develop my team spirit and communication skills, understand basic team dynamics and learn the best way to deal with conflicts within a team.

Lastly, the cultural diversity has been a great experience. I have made amazing friends from different countries and continents from whom I am learning a lot and with whom I have made lasting memories.

Tell us about some of the exciting projects you have completed.

Well, currently my team is developing a new product from scratch, and we have had to follow all the steps and apply all the product innovation tools from generating a product concept, market research, SWOT analysis, House of Quality, industrial up-scaling, marketing and advertising, to mention a few. We also have to use project management tools - Gant charts, budget management, meetings and technical presentations. It feels like we are actually in a real business environment.

There was also a food analysis team project where we had to assume that we were working for the government to ensure that nutritional labels actually contain what they say they contain, so we had to run proximate (nutritional) analysis on a chosen food, compare the nutritional contents and report our findings back.

What does Leeds as a city have to offer students?

The city of Leeds is student friendly. There are about five universities in Leeds alone. That comes with a lot of student activities and student discounts as well. The city centre is full of numerous varieties of shops for clothes, shoes, food, gadgets, gaming, and lots more. There are also museums, art galleries and beautiful sceneries to explore.

What are your ambitions for the future?

I am currently a graduate assistant in a University back in Nigeria and this MSc is part of my training to become a lecturer. My focus is on applied research, using acquired knowledge to improve food quality, diversity and security in my country. Of course, it is not a one-man project and being in the academia gives me an opportunity to build more capacity towards achieving that goal.

Eventually, I would like to be knowledgeable enough to consult on food production, quality management and process Improvement matters at the top management levels of food businesses.

What experiences at Leeds do you think will help you in your future career?

The team playing will go a long way for my future career. So will the time management and good communication skills I am acquiring, as we do many seminar presentations, interviews and often have tight deadlines. The School of Food Science and Nutrition also organises mock interview sessions where you have to apply for an advertised job with a CV and a cover letter and then do a job interview with professionals in the food industry. It is just like in the real world, except you get feedbacks on what you need to do better had it been a real interview.

What would you say to students coming to do the same course?

If you want to learn what it takes to get a new product idea from an idea to an actual product then this is the right course for you. Just so you know, food product innovation (whether it's a new product or you want to improve an existing one) has a lot of steps and considerations. That is what the Food Quality and Innovation course here teaches you. It will be challenging, but you will gain valuable experiences for food innovation and quality management in the food industry. In addition, you will have a lot of support from the lecturers, the lab instructors and the School of Food Science and Nutrition support office.

Just come with an open and innovative mind, ready to "think outside the box" as one of my lecturers likes to say, and you will do great.