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Lewis Machida (MPhil Plant Breeding and Crop Improvement 1994)


I am happily married to Apollonia and we have three children. I studied for a Master of Philosophy in Plant Breeding and Crop Improvement which was offered jointly with the University of Birmingham. My studies in the UK were facilitated through scholarships provided as aid to the government of Zimbabwe. In 1994, after completing my MPhil studies, I returned to Zimbabwe where I worked for several organisations until I went to South Africa for my PhD studies. After obtaining my PhD from the University of KwaZulu Natal in 2008, I worked as a Tobacco Breeder for the Tobacco Research Board of Zimbabwe for about 2 and half years. I am currently a Maize Breeder with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre based in Nairobi, Kenya..

Why did you choose to study at the University of Reading?

It was the only University offering studies at Masters level in Plant Breeding jointly with the University of Birmingham. I did not regret going to Reading because the Professors were highly experienced in teaching agricultural sciences with relevance to Tropical Agriculture Systems, which is what I needed.

What was the best bit about living and studying in Reading?

The rich community of International students which enabled me to learn about other cultures and places. After going through the University of Reading, I had a better appreciation of the cultural diversity and religious differences that exist in a global society.

What top tips would you give to students who are beginning their studies?

If possible, students should consider a University with a big International community because this provides an edge for those who would inadvertently pursue careers with International organisations. Sometimes due to unavailability of local employment opportunities new graduates are compelled to go for International jobs.

What are you up to now? How did you get there?

I am currently employed by CIMMYT based in Nairobi, Kenya.

What would be your top tips for students interested in working in this sector?

The world needs to eat and so agricultural skills will always be needed but you need to reconcile your passion with disciplines that are in demand.

How has the University of Reading and the Careers Centre helped in your chosen career path?

Definetely yes because Reading contributed to my International exposure which gave me the confidence to go for my current career

What are your top tips for students graduating this year? What should they be doing to secure the job they want?

These days the competition for jobs is stiffer than before and so they should not be snobbish but aim to get the experience so that there are no gaps in their CVs.

What does the University mean to you and what is your favourite memory?

The University of Reading gave me a good exposure and foundation on how to relate to others when the set up is an International Community. My favourite memory is the social aspect of meeting and chatting with fellow residents in the Kitchens in the self catering wing of Bridges Hall.

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