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People - Illovo sugar

how we safeguard, develop and inspire our people

People - Grad girl in china

Bella Zhao

Agriculture Manager

AB Sugar China

AB Sugar celebrating our women in business
Bella Zhao Agriculture Manager AB Sugar China

Content added March 2018. Bella has since left the business.

Bella joined AB Sugar China in 2010 as a trainee and has worked within the agriculture department for the past eight years. She spent six months in the UK as part of an International Experience Programme (IEP) in 2014, before taking key learnings back to China to embed into the business. Bella explains more about her experience below.

"Have faith and confidence in yourself and gradually build upon every success.”

Stepping into the world of Chinese agriculture

“After completing my Masters in sugar beet cultivation I joined AB Sugar China as a graduate trainee in the agriculture department. From there I’ve been lucky enough to work in a number of roles including research and development, corporate affairs and managing company-wide agriculture projects. This journey has developed my skills and understanding of the beet sugar industry in China, although I still often learn something new!

“I have also recently been accepted onto the company’s China Acceleration Programme, an internal leadership programme run by Associated British Foods (ABF) which has enabled me meet and network with colleagues from a diverse range of companies from within the ABF Group. This experience will definitely be a great opportunity for me to further my development and I’m looking forward to learning from others too.”

A six-month visit to the UK

“I was given the opportunity to work in the UK for six months during 2014 as part of the company’s IEP programme. I had a local buddy and spent time visiting the four British Sugar factories to see how the teams dealt with varying climates and soil conditions. I also spent time learning about how to improve yield and crop profitability with growers, while learning about advanced agricultural techniques.  

“It was a great experience to understand how the UK teams functioned while learning about local culture and customs. My English language skills also improved.

“Upon my return to China, I spent time analysing what I’d learnt and how we could embed and improve our operations in China, sharing learnings with colleagues and management. I am grateful for the opportunity and hope to continue learning much more about agriculture management.”

My advice to those starting out…

“We will all face difficulties at times throughout our career but learn to persevere and solve problems. Have faith and confidence in yourself and gradually build upon every success.”

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