01.11.2021

From Recycling to Manufacturing: Q&A with Rebecca Hyland, Procurement Officer

Our new Procurement Officer is ready to make a difference at Aquascot through her keen expertise in sustainability.

Since moving up north a few years ago, Lowlander Rebecca has adapted quickly to the Highland lifestyle, surrounded by various animals on the farm she shares with her partner. We caught up with her for a quick Q&A, in which she talks about her passion for the African continent, her glamping pods 'side hustle', and her dedication to small businesses.

Where are you from?

I’m from Carnoustie, just outside Dundee. I went to school there until I was about 19, then spent some time in Glasgow and Aberdeen before I moved up here, where I’ve been for 8 years. I was a bit of a 'home bird' before I came up here to work, and then there was a bit of a curveball meeting my partner. I suppose that was challenging in the beginning, but I’m more than happy and settled with my life now!

We live on a farm, out in the countryside. There’s cows, sheep, goats, chicken, peacocks — loads of animals. It’s about a 40-minute drive to work. I think if you live in the middle of nowhere, you have to accept that you’re going to have to commute. I didn’t drive when I first came up here: I was learning but I kept failing my test! The job I was doing was seasonal, and when it finished my future husband asked me to stay. I finally passed it the day before I was meant to go home – it was close to the line!

What were you doing before you joined Aquascot?

I was a Logistics Coordinator at Northern Recycling, where I planned the movements of all the vehicles, among many other things. It was quite an ‘in your face’, fast-paced kind of job. I was responsible for the environmental monitoring at NRS, paying attention to utility usage, waste generation and carbon footprint.

In the transport industry, obviously a large proportion of carbon footprint comes from vehicles, so it included things like looking at company vehicles as well as subcontractors — for example, focusing on fuel efficient driving courses and running only Euro 6 vehicles.

What made you want to apply for Aquascot?

Aquascot is one of Northern Recycling’s customers. I was involved in setting up their contract, which isn’t something I was usually involved in, but because of lockdown and restricted staff, I had to step up.

At that time, I’d known about the business, its values and its employee ownership, and it’d always been on my mind. I was actively looking for a new position, so when I saw the one at Aquascot come up, it seemed like a natural thing to go for.

"It was definitely the appeal of Aquascot that everyone works together for the end goal."

Was that a strong factor in your decision making, the fact that we’re employee-owned?

It wasn’t the actual employee ownership – I’ve always worked for small businesses, and I like that. Although the business is larger than the companies I’ve worked for in the past, the core values are there.

I never really want to see myself working in a big, massive, corporate environment. It was definitely the appeal of Aquascot that everyone works together for the end goal.

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What is your role at Aquascot?

I’m a Procurement Officer. Since it’s a new role, I’m still finding my feet. I’m learning to cover for Joanne (Rosie), the Raw Material Controller, so she can take some time off.

Other than that, I am looking at our costs, and making comparisons to previous years in the hope of engaging with suppliers to see where savings can be made. I've only managed to tick off the O2 contract so far, but it was a positive result. I'm currently looking into some environmental and cost saving projects, including the potential reduction of waste and cost of blue roll by replacing a proportion of dispensers with high speed, energy efficient hand dryers.

I'm also looking at ways we can significantly reduce our use of single-use plastics, especially through the night-shift bagging up process. Now is the time to strike with this as we are likely to see exceptional increase in the cost of plastics — with the incoming plastic tax due to hit many of our suppliers in April 2022.

"I’m definitely hoping I can make a positive contribution. I’ve looked at environmental policies in my last job, as it was part of my role — and it’s a personal interest anyway."

How are you going to be involved with the Sustainability Group?

Obviously, I’ve taken on anything related to waste and I’m looking at updating our waste management register. I’ll be involved in the Sustainability Group a bit more as it gets going.

I’ve probably got some knowledge from the past that I can bring in. Until we’re all in the meetings, I don’t know where everyone is, but I’m definitely hoping I can make a positive contribution. I’ve looked at environmental policies in my last job, as it was part of my role, and it’s a personal interest anyway.

If you could relive a memory, what would it be?

That’s a hard one. Just now, because of how lockdown’s been, and knowing we won’t be able to go anywhere, any kind of warm, sunny holiday on the beach would be fantastic. There’s been some good times by the sea with friends.

What has been your greatest challenge?

My partner and I set up a small business recently. We bought a glamping pod about 15 minutes away from our home. We made the decision prior to lockdown happening, and then we committed to it financially. It opened this August, and it’s still early days, but so far so good. I suppose it was an 'accomplishment' rather than a big challenge, you know.

If you were to win the lottery, what would you do?

I don’t think my life would change much. I think I would just have more things and go more places. I’d love to be able to grow a business that made things for other people – and obviously buy lots of crazy cars and go on even bigger holidays!

What is your dream holiday destination?

Probably somewhere in Africa. I’ve been to Kenya a couple times, and I’d love to travel around the whole of the continent, it’s just fantastic. I was there just when I left school, so we’re talking more than 10 years ago.

I was there two years in a row, for the whole summer, as part of a charity programme. I was volunteering in schools and kid summer camps, working with street kids. I think things like that can hold a lot of stigmas, can’t they – like you’re just ticking boxes – but it’s really opened my eyes. I’d love to go back, and I know my partner would love it.

Follow Aquascot on LinkedIn for the latest news, recipes and information from the Scottish seafood people in Alness.

Interviewed by: Justine Fourny (Category & Marketing Officer)

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