This year, a sustainability-focused company from the UK is looking for talent to staff its new R&D centre in Singapore, and its hiring requirements are slightly unusual—because candidates have to be ready to deal with bugs, literally. AgriProtein, a food waste upcycling company that uses insect technology to convert food waste into edible protein, is assembling a team of 25 people to be based in Singapore, and on top of the skills they require for R&D, they need people with a certain verve and attitude to deal with the company’s unique operations and product. Think breeding cages filled with black soldier flies, and trays of larvae that are fattened on processed food waste, then themselves processed into high-protein animal feed: it’s not for the faint of heart, however skilled.
“Working for an entrepreneurial, scale-up orgazisation and interacting with insects isn’t for everyone!” Melanie Manners, AgriProtein’s group HR director, told People Matters.
The company, founded in 2008, has declared its ambition is to “repair the future” by replacing the unsustainable use of fishmeal as animal feed with insect meal, ideally easing the burden on the depleted oceans, and Manners says that new hires are required to share that ambition and commitment besides having the relevant skills. And, of course, they should be comfortable with insects.
“Our hiring process is as much about attitude and personality as it is about technical expertise,” she said. “Identifying people who will thrive in our company is our number one recruitment priority.”
Many sustainability-focused companies set similarly high aspirations for themselves, and it’s not uncommon for job-seekers to be attracted to roles because of those hopes to better the world. But as Manners explained, there is often tremendous competition for the kind of talent that has both the ideals and the technical skills.
AgriProtein itself has had difficulty finding Singapore-based candidates to join its team. On the one hand, the very nature of the business may have turned some off; the hiring team has been looking for the last 12 months, and has already had to turn down some “very talented candidates”. On the other hand, Manners says that the people she is looking for are frequently to be found in other well-established organisations, from which it can be very hard to pry them loose.
When the company does bring someone on board, the hiring team doesn’t hesitate to expose the new person to the entire insect technology process. The induction programs include visits to one or more operational sites for a first-hand look, feel, and even taste of what AgriProtein does, and that’s where the attitude and personality that Manners seeks will play their first big part.
“Handling and tasting larvae is optional, but most of our new hires are up for the challenge!” said Manners.
Image Credits: Feed Navigator