By Fraser Porteous
University of Strathclyde
Let me begin by telling you a little about myself. My name is Fraser Porteous and I am a 20-year-old Marketing & Management student studying at the University of Strathclyde Business School. In my free time, I’m a keen bagpiper (living up to the Scottish stereotype, I know). For my entire life, I have lived in a large Scottish town named Hamilton, which is situated around 15 miles south of the city of Glasgow.
So what brings me to Monsanto? Well, this has all been made possible thanks to an organization called The Saltire Foundation. Some of you may remember reading about the Foundation in Rory and Kitty’s blog posts last year. If not, don’t worry; I’ll fill you in. The Saltire Foundation, founded in 2006, offers Scottish students the opportunity to intern at some of the world’s largest and most successful companies, working with senior-level employees.
This year sees the largest number of students participating in the program since the launch of the Foundation, with over ninety students securing internships around the world. For my internship, I am working within the Corporate Marketing and Communications department of Monsanto, located within their Creve Coeur campus in St Louis, Missouri. I will be here for eight weeks with my fellow Saltire intern Linda Newman.
My experience so far at Monsanto has been nothing but brilliant. As this is only week one of my time here, I’m still relatively new to the Monsanto way of thinking. However, after being given a tour of the Chesterfield Campus, Monsanto’s primary research facility, I have arrived at the conclusion that I genuinely believe that GM products are the way forward. With the human population set to grow by 40 per cent in the next few decades, I feel that utilizing GM products is the logical answer to this sharp rise in demand.
Being from a purely business background, I must admit that I wasn’t fully aware of the extent of Monsanto’s research activities. This is why I found the tour of the Chesterfield site extremely beneficial, as it gave me a deeper comprehension of Monsanto’s day-to-day operations. We were given an insight to many areas of the firm’s research, including:
• How Monsanto develops crops that naturally resist insects,
• Growth chambers, which provide the perfect growing climate for the seeds and plants, and speeds-up the entire growth process,
• The trait development process,
• The on-site greenhouses, where the products are tested prior to launching,
• The production processes.
As someone with no previous experience in the agriculture industry, it was amazing to be able to see the corn plants in both their early and mature stages, as it brought the whole cycle into perspective. As I’ve said above, I found this tour extremely beneficial, and tomorrow we have been given the opportunity to tour the firm’s Creve Coeur campus.
Since arriving in the USA, there was one aspect that I felt particularly apprehensive about – the driving. Back in Scotland, we drive on the left-hand side of the road, so the thought of coming here and doing the complete opposite was bound to strike fear. Luckily, I have managed to pick it up pretty quickly, so our 15-minute drive to work isn’t as deadly as I’d initially anticipated!
Outside of work, both Linda and I have been extremely busy. We are living on-campus at Washington University with two other Saltire Foundation interns who are working for another firm in St Louis. It’s safe to say that, since we arrived in St Louis, we have taken every opportunity to enjoy “American” life (or at least what we think American life is). The list includes: getting lost in Wal-Mart, eating lots of Hershey’s chocolate and, because we’re both under 21, the obligatory root beer at Fitz’s Restaurant in the Delmar Loop.
This week has served as an extremely useful insight into life at Monsanto, and I’m really looking forward to spending my summer here in St Louis, both getting to know everyone and enjoying the American culture.