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A little bit about your placement organisation!

My placement was with Hebridean Spa Ltd who has successfully developed a branded luxury range of spa, retail and professional products with the brand name ishga which means water in Gaelic. Ishga is currently selling through a number of well-known luxury spas in the UK, including Skibo Castle, Turnberry and Blythswood Square.  The unique selling point is our use of Hebridean sea water, spring water, and sustainably harvested Hebridean seaweed to create organically-certified products. All ishga products are manufactured and packaged in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis.

Could you tell us a bit about your placement?

My project involved identifying suitable organic ingredients, and reformulating all 17 products and completing the required safety tests to ensure the products comply with current EU quality standards for organic classified cosmetics.  I then led the business through the certification process by liaising with the Soil Associaiton and other organisations. 

What skills have you developed through your placement?

Communication: I was in regular contact with our Soil Association certification officer and had to ensure I provided her with all relevant information about the business. I had to make sure she fully understood how our products were made by guiding her through the process, step by step.  It was also important to keep my boss up to date with each stage of the certification process. 

Accuracy and attention to detail: This was particularly important when calculating product composition as I had to ensure I was extremely accurate and focused.  Any slight errors would make our certification officer’s records inaccurate.

Determination: Without determination I would not have been successful in this process! I faced a few obstacles along the way and at times it felt like gaining certification was impossible, but by putting in the time and the detail I was able to help Hebridean Spa to meet the requirements and standards set by the Soil Association.

How has your placement helped you transition from education into a working? 

My placement involved a great deal of responsibility, which I hadn’t previously encountered. I lead on this project and worked on it individually, but I did have access to support and guidance whenever I needed it. This was new to me as throughout my education I’ve been working alongside my classmates, teachers and lecturers. 

When in a working environment you are faced with daily tasks that require thought and effective decision-making, whereas in education decisions are made for you the majority of the time. I was fortunate to get experience in making executive decisions, and presenting these to my boss to make sure they were right for the business in achieving certification.

My ScotGrad experience has been great and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I have learnt a great deal from the experience and would recommend other students to get involved in the Programme.