A GRADUATE trainee programme has been launched by Scotland’s Rural College to help identify and train the new consultancy stars of the future.

The first two students on the new initiative – Iona Brisbane and Maimie Sloan, who came top out of 110 graduates who applied for the scheme – have just started their two year placements with SAC Consulting, part of SRUC.

The programme will see the duo have four six month long placements across SAC Consulting’s network over the next two years. At the end of the training they will be placed at an appropriate position within the organisation.

Iona joins the scheme after graduating from SRUC’s Ayr campus gaining a BSc Honours in Agriculture. She comes from an upland beef and sheep farm just outside Stranraer. Alongside the commercial enterprise – which consists of a herd of Blue Grey cattle and a flock of Blackface sheep – Iona also runs a small flock of pedigree Zwartbles sheep.

She said: “My main interests lie in the beef and sheep sector, with a particular interest in Precision Livestock Farming. I am very much looking forward to getting started on this graduate trainee scheme.”

Maimie graduated from Newcastle University in 2015 with a BSc in Agriculture with Honours in Animal Production Science. Her interest in the agriculture sector started from a young age having come from a rural background in Dumfries and Galloway, with family involved in farming.

Experience from Maimie’s first job working at her uncle’s large dairy farm inspired her to pursue a career in the industry.

After graduating, she moved to Devon to work as a technical sales advisor for an animal feed company for two years – but is now excited to return to Scotland.

She said: “I saw the opportunity for the new trainee programme and seized the opportunity to apply. I was delighted to be successful in gaining a place and am very much looking forward to the challenges and opportunities it will offer.”

SAC Consulting business manager George Baikie, who is responsible for the new programme, said: “This new graduate trainee programme is intended to develop and nurture staff to meet organisational demands as opposed to filling vacancies upon requirement. This is an important step in us investing in the future of SAC Consulting.”

SAC Consulting managing director Mike Wijnberg added: “I was delighted to meet Maimie and Iona – our first graduate trainees and to welcome them. SAC Consulting is a people business and we recognise that developing talent at all levels in our business is important for our future.

“The initiation of this programme represents one element in a wider portfolio of activity to build capacity and capability in SAC Consulting for the future.”