Riona Hazley - Ooni Pizza Ovens

In her final year and set to graduate in 2021, Riona Hazley is currently studying TV and Radio Broadcast Production at the University of West of Scotland.

Riona joined the Saltire Scholar Internship Programme in 2020. The world-class internship programme matches high-potential undergraduates from Scottish universities with leading global and entrepreneurial companies and gives students who are studying at a Scottish University an opportunity to undertake a commercially viable project in their penultimate year of study. It aims to find, fuel and spark the next generation of leaders for Scotland.

For Riona, that meant spending a placement with world leading pizza oven company and Sunday Times Fast Track 100 business, Ooni Pizza Ovens.



In Germany on an exchange through her university, Riona received an email about the Saltire Scholar Internship Programme.

Riona says, " I thought it sounded interesting but I left it for the day. But then as I began thinking more about it, I thought it was worth applying to see what happened. I ended up getting through to the next round with the interviews taking place online. I spent more time researching the programme and the opportunities, and felt really excited about the prospect, so felt very happy that I’d applied."

Following her interviews, Riona was selected for the programme and was offered a placement with Ooni Pizza Ovens, based in Scotland, with a role as a digital production assistant. Originally a 10-week placement, she was invited to extend the experience and ended up staying with Ooni for an extra month, gaining valuable experience. Riona explains, “During my placement with Ooni, I got the chance to work as part of a really close, small knit team and got to experience the ways of working in a professional and growing business. Key to my role was helping to edit video content – mostly from their community of influencers - that would be published on Ooni’s social media channels – mainly on YouTube, Instagram.

“There was one or two other projects that I got to work on during my time there too. One was Louis Theroux joining us for a mockumentary that was going to go out on their social media channels. I got to have quite a creative role in that project, and that was really exciting and interesting and also helped me gain confidence in myself.”

During her placement, Riona gained valuable organisational, communication and practical skills, that she believes will help take her forward in the next steps of her career. She speaks highly of the opportunity and placement she was given, having been part of another internship programme in the past. She says, “I had an editing internship the summer before, back in Finland with a TV production company. It was a great experience but what I was really hoping for with this placement was a chance to have more creative input, or the opportunity to share some of my ideas.

There’s no doubt the programme and placement have both been very advantageous for me. It has given me new perspectives, helped me gain confidence in my abilities and ideas, and opened my eyes to new interests. The whole programme is developed around truly transferable skills which really help to open new doors.


Studying a creative degree, Riona also believes the Saltire Scholar Internship Programme has given her a different perspective that she might not have developed through her university course work. She explains, “My studies at university are very focussed on creative development, which is great, but where I really got value on the Saltire Scholar programme, was the entrepreneurial aspects of the study and the placement.

I had never really considered going into business or marketing. Then during my placement, I got to work closely with the marketing team at Ooni. I got to witness the whole business process of selling a product, and I even got to be part of the weekly team meetings. I got to see first-hand, how my creative input contributes to the business. It was a new experience for me, and I found it incredibly interesting, and it also helped me to gain confidence. Spending time speaking to my line manager, who also studied a creative degree, really opened my mind to the options and opportunities ahead of me once I graduate. The whole experience really expanded my perspective – I got to witness how things work in a real live business and I began to understand the entrepreneurial mindset required to grow a successful company.”

As well as professional development and learning about a business setting, Riona also gained significant personal development from the programme. While the programme and placement were virtual, given the restrictions of the global pandemic, Riona still felt she gained valuable experiences working as part of a wider network and team. She says, “As quite a shy person, I was a bit anxious about joining the programme, but from the very start I was thrown into things, joining multiple zoom calls. That definitely helped me to alleviate some anxiety about going head-first into something. I had to be very proactive and interactive which really pushed me personally. I would say that personally, one of my biggest learnings from the programme is to be more confident and put myself out there more, as it allowed me to maximise opportunities and be more productive.

Riona has no hesitation in recommending the programme to others at a similar stage in their studies and career. She concludes, “It can often be hard for students to find opportunities to work with world leading businesses. You can do research, send out emails to companies, but obviously there are a lot of companies in the creative industry that are small and can’t take on a lot of interns. In that sense, for people that are doing creative degrees like me, it’s hugely important to get a foot in the door, gain experience and opportunities because they don’t come around easily.

With Ooni, I was able to share my ideas and vision of what the final edited product would look like, which was a great experience. It was really exciting to be able to have input into the final edit that would be published on their channels. As I got more practical experience and a chance to share ideas, it gave me confidence in my abilities to learn that people do respect you and your opinion. It has really inspired me to consider a similar role as I embark on my career.


If you would like to talk to Entrepreneurial Scotland about hosting a Saltire Scholar, and how this can benefit your business, please email:

If you would like to become a Saltire Scholar, find out more here.