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Career spotlights: risk management at Cargill

Welcome to Career Spotlights 

If you’re wondering what lies ahead of your undergraduate degree, read our interviews with former graduates for some ideas worth exploring.

We spoke with Dr Keith Milne, former chemistry graduate of the University of Edinburgh, and currently the Europe, Middle East, Africa Change Region (EMEA) Manager for Risk Management at Cargill – an international producer and marketer of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services.

Tell us about your background prior to entering the workplace?

I grew up in Northern Scotland and moved to Edinburgh in 1982. I graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a First Class Honours in Chemistry, followed by a PhD in Bacterial Isoprenoid Biosynthesis Chemistry (1982-1989).

Did you have a set idea for your career prior to graduating?

All I knew when I graduated was that I wanted to work for the biggest and best chemical company in Britain and that I’d see how it went from there.

So after your PhD what did you do?

I had a few different jobs before getting to where I am today and my path has been quite diverse.

I started off as a Research Manager with Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) for 4 years, working on new engineering polymer formulations for the Automotive industry in Europe.

Next I worked with DuPont as Marketing Director. I spent 10 years in this post gaining experience and specialising in Sales and Marketing, with responsibility for one third of the Lycra(r) Apparel Business in Europe.

This led me to the next stage of my career as Brand Licensing Director at Koch industries. I worked on ingredient brand licensing strategy, planning and delivery in Europe, and spent 2.5 years in this post before moving to Cargill as Senior Marketer for Agriculture and Energy Derivatives. I’m now Marketing Manager of the EMEA and responsible for Sales and Marketing of Cargill Risk Management over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives portfolio.

What have been the major pros and cons of your career path?

A definite plus is that I’ve been continually challenged throughout my career. I’ve experienced a lot of variety in my work and developed skills in many areas. I’ve had the opportunity to travel (I now live in Geneva, Switzerland) and I’ve created a wonderful lifestyle, for my family and myself.

The biggest downside to my career path is that it’s taken me away from family and friends in Scotland. Coupled with this, the nature of the jobs I’ve had means it’s been stressful at times. But that’s what comes from choosing a challenging and diverse career path.

Is there anything that you would go back and tell your undergraduate/graduate self?

While you probably hear these all the time, I stand by the following advice:

  • Live life to the full
  • Enjoy every second
  • Take risks
  • Meet as many people as possible
  • And aim high

I’d also advise that you think about what lifestyle you want alongside your career, before deciding what to do after you undergraduate degree.

Any last piece of advice for our readers?

Don’t ever forget where you come from… and be nicer to your Mum!

If you’d like to know anything more about Cargill, or any of the other companies that Keith worked with, then have a look at the links below.

DuPont: //

Koch Industries, Inc.: //

Cargill: //

If you’re still looking for more inspiration for a future career path, take a look at Careers and Resources. And for more interviews with chemistry grads, see Career Spotlights – interviews with chemistry grads.

If you have any questions that you’d like to pose to future interviewees, please do send your ideas to us.

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