(7 mins to read)
From Rutland Vet To London Locum Business Owner: Meet Rachel Heygate
"I needed to push myself outside of my comfort zone "
Today we are lucky enough to have Rachel Heygate join us for a questions & answers session.
Rachel is a Veterinary Surgeon and Business Owner living and learning in London.
Her story is certainly worth reading if you are looking for inspiration to leave your 9 to 5 and try something new, daunting and exciting. She proves the importance of pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone, breaking the mold and utilising your skill set to tap into other markets.
From farm living to business life; this is Rachel's story.
Maisie from Words Do The Talking:
Hi Rachel, thank you very much for sharing your time with us, we're looking forward to hearing your story, are you happy for us to get started?
Hi Maisie. Yes of course, let's go for it!
Q. Growing up on a farm with 2 brothers - what was that like?
A. It taught me how to stand my ground and learn you give as good as you get! But it was great fun and we spent hours playing in rivers, building dams and pretending we were real farmers. Such a great childhood which looking back now I appreciate more than ever. I recognise I am one of the lucky few who had so many outdoor experiences from such a young age, even if that did mean we were child labourers looking after all the dogs, sheep and chickens!
Q. What made you want to become a vet?
A. My passion to make a difference. I love a challenge and I knew it would take hard work and determination to qualify. As a practical and hands on person, sitting in an office from 9-5 was never going to be for me.
Q. Speaking of challenges... What made you want to leave your stable veterinary surgery job in the Midlands, start locuming in London and successfully follow your own business goals?
A. I loved my life in Rutland, surrounded by friends, family and a stable job, from the outside it looked like I had it all. Following a period of travel in 2016 I realised there was a big world out there which had even more to offer and explore.
I met some very inspirational people from a diverse range of backgrounds. I realised I needed to push myself outside of my comfort zone in order to be able to grow in both my personal and professional life.
Setting up my own business has given me the flexibly to learn from practicing in different veterinary clinics whilst also exploring new and exciting business ideas. I am happiest in my working life when I am being challenged and I still have many more challenges to conquer. I'm currently based in London, integrating with a diverse range of cultures and experiencing life in the UK's capital - and I'd recommend it to anyone.
Q. Do you feel like any farm experiences may have formed your (if you don't mind me saying) extremely career-focused and driven mindset?
A. Absolutely. Farming is a lifestyle, it was rare to have a weekend or even an evening where my parents weren’t working on the farm. This has undoubtedly ingrained a strong work ethic and driven mindset in me and my brothers. You could work a little too much, so I am still learning the importance of a work-life balance!
My farming background was in my opinion fundamental for building trusting working relationships with clients whilst working in farm animal practice. I was more confident and comfortable around animals in comparison to colleagues who had grown up in urban areas.
Q. Were there any influences or influential characters whilst on the farm?
A. My family have always been supportive in whatever I do which has made such a difference and given me the confidence to expand my wings and try new things.
Q. What keeps you grounded and level-headed?
A. People. Reflecting on what I have achieved and all the people I have met and who have helped me along the way. I always try and give back as well, helping at soup kitchens, charity children's camps and back home on the farm. For me it’s important to provide support for family and friends, just as they do for me.
Q. I think we could all do with taking a leaf out of your book. Can you tell us more about your grass-fed business venture?
A. Despite a move to London, I am still actively involved in the sheep business back home; focusing on a preventative health approach. My aim is to reduce the amount of antibiotics used and optimise the health of the flock through nutrition and their environment, resulting in the highest quality meat for the consumer. My ethos is ‘you are what you eat’ and I have a passionate vision that we should all know more about where our food has come from.
I will be working alongside my brother to produce unique grass-fed lamb snacks and cuts of meat. Currently I am experimenting with lamb jerky and koftas. The tasting panel of family, friends and my London housemates have never had so many samples to try, but no one has declined the testing yet!!
Q. Brilliant, send any spare jerky our way please. Rachel, you're evidently a bit of a thrill-seeker, so tell us, what would you say makes you tick?
A. Spending time with friends and family, exploring new areas and countries, eating well and ideally having some time for cooking good home made grub!
Summer time road cycling, getting out into the Surrey hills and feeling the burn in the legs. I have joined a couple of cycling clubs in London which means some great weekend cycling with like-minded people.
Q. Do you have any advice you could instill upon our readers who are looking to take on a similar challenge/ career path to yours?
A. It’s easy to get comfortable in what you do but often you don’t reach your full potential until you push outside of your comfort zone and strive for your goals. It doesn't have to be something related to what you have already done, think about what you have an interest in and what makes you want to get out of bed in the mornings!
Make plans, visualise what you want your future to look like and then work out the stepping stones (which are often small) in order to get there. Most of all be brave, you are often capable of more than you think.
Q. How has the use of words helped you in your journey so far?
A. I might list these off if that's okay? So I'd say writing my CV / cover letters as that's got me to the positions I am currently in, business presentations and business branding for the grass-fed lamb side; these needed to be creative and succinct to captivate my audiences. Marketing copy and writing for my own company, such as email marketing and social media wording; I needed to express the key elements of my product and get these ideas across in just a few succinct words.
Umm this is a slightly different one but journaling has also really helped me to reflect and stay focused on my goals. Setting some time to write down my thoughts, identifying key words and topics to concentrate on is really important to me. I have used this for both my career and personal life. So I would say the power of words has had a massive impact on every element of my journey so far, that's why I'm happy to talk to Words Do The Talking, because as Copywriters it's incredible how you can change a seemingly small idea into a thriving business, using campaign ideas and brilliant copy. Thank you for your help so far!
Q. Finally and most prominently - what's next for you?
A. For now I will continue to be based in London. There is so much opportunity to expand in both my veterinary work and also to tap into the London food markets. I will aim to fit in some travel, I have so many more countries and cultures I want to explore and learn from. Every time I go somewhere new I get inspiration and vision for my next steps.
While I like to plan I also recognize that it’s important to be flexible and grab opportunities as they arise.
Vital business tips to take away
1. If there's an option, choose the option that scares you
2. Learn from your childhood and take these influences into your adult life
3. Always search, research, adapt and stay on top of your business ideas
4. Try new things at every opportunity
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