Lots of young people are brought up in agriculture and want to make a career for themselves in the industry but know that they might not necessarily be a full-time farmer.

That was the situation Alice Wilson found herself in, having been brought up on a farm in South Ayrshire.

After a spell living in England, gaining her degree and qualifications, 27-year-old Alice is back living in Ayr.

She joined Galbraith in 2017 and works as a chartered rural surveyor within the local office.

Working throughout south-west Scotland, Alice predominantly undertakes valuation work for a variety of purposes as well as carrying out a wide range of professional rural consultancy including utility work and rural sales.

She took some time out of her busy week to tell The Scottish Farmer a bit about what her job entails.

Were you brought up in farming?

Yes. I was brought up on a dairy farm just outside Maybole in South Ayrshire which my family sold 12 years ago. The way the dairy industry was at that time, pressure to invest in a new milking system was mounting and I was one of two daughters – my older sister wasn’t keen to take on the farm and I was too young to make that decision.

It wasn’t an easy choice for my family, but looking back and now having a better understanding through my job as a surveyor I know it was the right one to make.

I loved being brought up on the farm, I was always involved in feeding calves and other small jobs.

I was too small to do a milking alone, but I did what I could. I have fond memories of spending my childhood outside.

How did you get into your line of work?

I did my initial degree in geography and that gave me a wide range of skills that I still use today.

I knew I wanted to do something in the agricultural industry and rural surveying enabled me to maintain my agricultural links.

I did my masters degree at the RAU in Cirencester and qualified as an RICS chartered surveyor in Yorkshire, working in a job which predominantly covered the East Yorkshire region.

It was a completely different landscape and way of farming, but it was a good learning curve and I enjoyed my time there.

How did you end up making the move back home?

I made the move to Galbraith in 2017. My family live in Alloway now, so not only was it a fantastic career opportunity, it was a chance to move closer to home and to familiar territory.

Life in Yorkshire was great but ultimately, I was unfamiliar with the area and when you approached clients, they knew that.

Being back in the homeland is wonderful because I know the area and I have something in common with the people I’m working with.

It’s one less barrier and definitely helps people relax with me.

It’s a small world – someone always knows you, or someone who knows you - it's a lovely part of the job.

Is Galbraith a good place to work?

Definitely! Galbraith is one of Scotland’s leading property consultants with 11 offices, stretching from Inverness to the Borders. There is a great breadth of work across multiple industries.

I’m a rural surveyor specialising in valuations. I do a lot of utility work on behalf of farmers and I also work in general agricultural consultancy.

Our office covers the south west region, with a strong link up with the Castle Douglas office so I do get out and about two or three days a week and I get to see some amazing parts of the country, come rain or shine!

What are the interesting elements of your job?

I work closely with new graduates within Galbraith so that’s a really interesting part of what I do.

It’s an important time in their careers so any help that can be given to them is always a benefit. Even if it’s simply from the point of view of having someone that’s not that much older than them to go to for mentoring.

You deal with all sorts of people, going through lots of changes. Unfortunately, not always positive.

In some instances, I’m dealing with clients going through a difficult time of their lives for example the sale of their farm.

I think managing expectations can often be important. It’s frequently a tricky subject. Selling on behalf of people retiring can really pull on the heart strings – you need to have compassion as well as staying professional at all times.

Have you ever felt that people have been surprised that you’re female in this line of work?

It’s becoming more common to see women in the industry and the landscape is definitely changing in terms of female surveyors so clients aren’t as surprised by it as they may have once been.

You do get the odd occasion where farmers have been surprised when I’ve arrived on their farm – either because I’m female or because I’m still relatively young, but I can’t say it has ever caused a problem. I’ve never faced any criticism and people soon settle down once we get started with the job.

Are there a lot of women at Galbraith?

There’s a healthy split between male and female surveyors within Galbraith, with the rural division having grown quite a bit over the past five years – nearly half of its rural land agents are women.

The Galbraith graduate scheme intake has been predominately female in the past few years so we expect to see the numbers of females coming into the industry continue to grow.

At the end of the day, you’re there to do a job so it’s the person who has the experience and is most suited to that area of work who should be the one carrying it out and this shouldn’t be defined by gender or age.

Do you enjoy your job?

I thoroughly enjoy my work and some days I feel cheeky calling what I do a job, as I’m out meeting lovely people and seeing fantastic parts of the country.

Like any job, there are days that things aren’t great, I mean who really wants to be out in a muddy field during a storm, but the good days far outweigh the bad and there are far more highs than there are lows.

I know a lot of people that don’t have that feeling in their employment, so it’s not something I underestimate or take for granted.

I always know that I have a job to do but equally it’s very rewarding.

What do you do in your spare time?

I play hockey for Ayr in my spare time, so that’s a lot of fun. The team is a good mix of ages and it certainly provides a good social life.

I go back to Yorkshire quite regularly to visit people and because of university I have friends all over the UK that I love to go and see.

I was in Australia over Christmas which was fab – I enjoy travelling and experiencing new countries and cultures.

What are the main problems you see in the industry?

Subsidies and what’s going to happen in the wake of Brexit are obviously big concerns.

It’s going to affect smaller businesses and I do worry about small farms and the economies of scale effect.

Financial pressures are very much linked to mental stress, especially in an industry like agriculture. The ageing demographic of the industry as a whole is also a worry.

The industry has weathered many storms in the past, and it will continue to do so.

The effects of the weather can’t be underestimated. It causes peaks and troughs, which can make investment trickier, but that’s where we can help. So I would encourage people to approach us for advice.

What professional advice would you give to people?

Succession is a bit of a buzzword just now so I do encourage people to look into this and get plans in place as early as they can.

I take note that a lot of farmers are still borrowing money for long term investment in order to progress their businesses and the banks are still willing to lend to them despite any concerns with the economy.

This gives the industry grounds for optimism.

There are undoubtedly a lot of worries on the horizon, but farmers aren’t all resting on their laurels, they’re very much being proactive and considering many diversification options, and I would definitely encourage people to continue having that outlook on things.

What are your plans for the future?

As far as the future is concerned, I want to progress my career and hopefully flourish within Galbraith.

I want to develop and help our team grow, especially in Ayr and Castle Douglas providing a solid south west link up.

The company has strong career prospects, so the future feels exciting.

Forestry is a big part of what we do, and we’ve just employed a forestry consultant in Castle Douglas, so it’ll be interesting to see how things move forward within that sector.

I am still gaining experience and I enjoy the buzz from solving the many challenges which the industry presents for our clients.

Overall, I want to keep supporting and advising our clients to the best of my abilities – it may seem clichéd, but it’s true!