Meritxell Diez-Padrisa is Production Director at Mowi Scotland. She has a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Barcelona and a Masters in Aquatic Veterinary Studies from the University of Stirling.
What inspired you to first become involved in aquaculture?
I was at my fifth year of veterinary school. At that stage I knew I wanted to work in a field that could make a difference to our society, a field that could help feed the world. I was very fortunate to study at Barcelona Autonomous University, which has a well-known track of fish pathology and aquaculture related research. Two subjects on aquaculture were available that year: aquaculture production and fish pathology. I decided to enrol on them and that is how all started.
Briefly describe your aquaculture career.
After finishing my vet degree, I decided I needed to get more training and went to Stirling University to pursue a Master of Science in Aquatic Veterinary Studies. The experience I gained at Stirling was very useful, and opened a door of opportunities to me. The years that followed were a succession of internships and short placements in various countries (Scotland, Canada, Denmark), all working in fish pathology and diagnostics. Eventually, I ended up going back home to Barcelona and started a residency training in Veterinary Pathology. It was while I was taking part in that program that an opportunity to work with Mowi (Marine Harvest back then) came up and I didn’t hesitate to move to the Highlands. After a few years working as a veterinarian for Mowi, I decided to progress a step further and accepted a job as Head of Fish Health for Grupo Culmarex (Cooke Aquaculture), and move to the South of Spain to work with sea bass and sea bream. After some time, I returned to Mowi Scotland as Head of Fish Health, and just recently was promoted to Production Director.
Are there any individuals or organisations in aquaculture who you’ve found particularly inspirational?
Over the years I’ve met many inspirational people in the sector, but working for Mowi is inspirational in itself. Mowi is a great company to work for, that promotes values that represent all that I had dreamed about in the early years of my career: producing healthy and sustainable food for the world.
How important has networking been to your career?
Very important. It is always through people that you find great opportunities. Aquaculture is a very small field, and knowing the right people is vital.
For many women trying to move up the career ladder they can be met with inequality challenges. Can you give an example of a discriminatory situation and how you dealt with it or how to avoid it?
I’m sure there might have been discriminatory situations through my career, but to be honest, wherever they might have been I have always chosen to ignore them and pretend they were not there. I’m a strong believer that we don’t gain anything from self-pity. I feel a lot of women are almost expecting to find a discriminatory situation in their careers because they are women. I think that is exactly the wrong attitude, because with it I’m certain you are more prone to notice plenty of such situations which might take you down. Just keep going, work hard, be passionate and chase your dreams.
What’s your proudest aquaculture-related achievement to date?
The closure of the 2018 production year at Mowi Scotland. After a few difficult years the team managed to close the year with the lowest sea lice and mortality levels recorded in the past five years. This was the culmination of many people’s hard and continuous good work.
Where do you think the focus of the industry should be in the next decade?
We need to keep developing and evolving to be able to continue producing healthy seafood in an ever changing and more challenging environment. We need to keep doing what we do, but do it even better.
If you have experienced any discriminatory behaviour in your field of work, please get in touch with WiSA for support and advice.Read more interviews from inspiring women in Scottish aquaculture