Motivational Monday: Biology to food innovation
Our latest Motivational Monday is with Olivia Abrahmsohn (class of 2006) who has worked as a food product developer for the last eight years.
Last week we welcomed back another alumna to speak to students about her career. While at South Hampstead, Olivia always enjoyed Biology and Art. “I had the best teacher, Ms Spawls*. She was vivacious and passionate. Her classes were interactive… I could have listened to her all day. She was the reason I went into a science-based career,” says Olivia as she looks back at her time at school. “I also enjoyed spending many hours in the art studios being creative, exploring different types of materials and methods of art. I still have paintings on the wall that I created when I was 17!”
When looking at options after A Levels, Olivia was torn between following a creative art route or continuing her studies in Biology. “I was advised to go down the science route as it was easier to do this first and then return to art in the future, if I wanted to,” she recalls. Olivia chose to study for a BSc in Biology at University College London, a course that she unfortunately found rather dry and intense to begin with. Fortuitously, in her third year, she took a module in food nutrition which sparked her interest in food. “I loved learning about the science behind food and healthy eating. The module inspired me to pursue a career as a Food Product Developer which combines all the things I’m passionate about – cooking, science and nutrition.”
Today, Olivia is Head of Product Development at Rebel Kitchen, a company committed to sustainability, producing organic, plant-based food products. She has also worked as a Product Developer for Innocent Drinks and Graze.com, and has been a tasting judge for the Free From Food Awards.
Olivia is grateful for her time at school which helped her get to where she is today. “South Hampstead gave me an inner quiet confidence, making me not afraid to approach people, to ask for things and to speak my mind.”
Olivia’s advice to current South Hampstead students is to take the time to research all the possibilities that exist outside of school and not to choose the easy or most common option. “Be creative, speak to as many people as you can about their careers and follow what makes you most excited. I started out on a traditional route. A career in the food world never even occurred to me until I took a module in nutrition, enabling me to follow my passions.”
South Hampstead’s Futures Programme was launched in September 2017, providing a comprehensive framework to equip all girls for life beyond their school years. Pupils are encouraged to develop their workplace skills and confidence early, recording their achievements and co-curricular activities and developing their CV. From the early years of Senior School, girls explore a diverse array of aspirational career paths via classroom projects, lunchtime careers talks, blue-chip company insight days and various work experience opportunities.
*Ms Spawls, incidentally, continues to teach at South Hampstead and (like all our teachers) is as ‘vivacious and passionate’ as ever!