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Folly Farm's story

Kate Torok, Head of Human Resources, at Folly Farm’s Penguin Coast attraction

Folly Farm in Kilgetty, Pembrokeshire is home to more than 750 animals at its world class zoo, as well as an indoor vintage fairground, and eight adventure play areas across the 120 acre site.

With a focus on developing people in roles that suit their interests, this top Welsh attraction is just one example of the varied career opportunities on offer in the tourism and hospitality industry.

Kate Torok, Head of Human Resources

Kate started working at Folly Farm while studying for a degree at Swansea University. After returning to the site year after year during breaks in her studies, she was offered a full-time role following her graduation.  Kate has successfully carved out a career combining her love of both people and animals.

“I love the variety of working in a place like this. Where else can you go to work and see some penguins, or lions, and get to work with a great group of people?

"My job in Human Resources isn’t your average one. Because we employ such a wide range of people with different types of skills there’s so much variety and a real range of roles, which keeps things very interesting.

"I get to meet zookeepers from all across the UK who come to work for us, as well helping to train staff and progress them through their careers, which is a really rewarding experience.

"I first came to Folly Farm as a student when I was completing my university degree, working summers, Easters, and sometimes on weekends as a retail assistant to fit around my studies. I soon progressed to a supervisor role, and after I graduated from university, I was offered the chance to start my career here helping train staff. An opportunity then came up in HR and I haven’t looked back since.

"The company put me through my Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) qualifications, which I now arrange for other members of our team. It’s amazing that there are so many professional career opportunities in something that started out as a summer job for me."

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Sarah Mattick, Operations

Sarah is currently completing a university degree, and after starting a part-time job at Folly Farm’s retail outlets, Sarah quickly moved on to a role on the farm after her bosses discovered she had a love of animals and the outdoors.

"When I first came to Folly Farm it was to work somewhere in retail, but once the management team found out about my love of animals they moved me quite quickly over to the farm, where I’ve been able to learn so many skills.

"I love being outdoors, working in the fresh air and with other people. Most of my previous jobs have been indoors and in an office.

"I decided to carry on working while I study at university because my bosses allowed me to be flexible with my shifts and working hours. It’s really relaxed in that sense, and I’m only currently doing one shift a week to accommodate the amount of assignments I have to complete for my course.

"I really enjoy the social aspect of working in a team and with so many different people. We all get out and about together and it’s always great getting to know new people."

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Jack Davies, Senior Maintenance Engineer

Jack has been supported by the business at every step of his professional development, with trainee roles, an apprenticeship, and then with courses that allowed him to build up invaluable skills for his chosen profession.

"The best part about my job is the variety of work and challenges that pop up day-to-day. Quite often you don’t know what to expect, and you just get stuck in.

"I was taken on as a trainee here when I was 18, and then offered an apprenticeship. I’ve managed to pick up mechanical and engineering skills which has been great for boosting my career prospects.

"But it’s really helped with my confidence and ability to work in a team, too. There’s a great dynamic here, a real mix of young and old, and we get on great. You’re always working alongside someone else, too, which is the part I enjoy the most.

"It’s a job like no other. You’ve got to be prepared to work hard in this industry, but as long as you get stuck in you’ll get so much out of it."

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Bill Ebsworth, Marketing

Bill combines his university studies with working in multiple and varied areas of Folly Farm. He uses his real-life working experiences to inform his work in his Business degree, and hopes that developing a broad knowledge the tourism and hospitality industry will give him a great start to his career.

"I love that my job is really varied – no two days are the same. Some days I work in retail, other days in food and beverage, and also the marketing department.

"I’ve always been interested in the tourism and hospitality industry, and it’s fantastic to get to learn how every area of the business works here. It’s great to be able to put everything I’m learning in my degree into practice here.

"I’m also getting the benefit of improving things like my confidence and problem-solving skills, which will be invaluable for whatever career I pursue later in life."

My advice for anyone thinking of joining this industry is just do it. It's very fast-paced and hard work, but it’s extremely rewarding."

Bill Ebsworth, Marketing
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