Alice, Shift Manager, Tutbury Factory
Four years into my Nestlé career I have just taken on the role of Shift Manager in Dolce Gusto at our Tutbury factory. It is by far the biggest and most exciting venture Nestlé has embarked on for a number of years and I am right at the heart of it.
I'm responsible for 14 manufacturing lines with anywhere between 34 and 50 operators (depending on production volumes). As such, ensuring that the highest quality is achieved in a safe environment challenges every ounce of experience and skill that I've developed in my time with Nestlé. At the same time, I'm also responsible for ensuring each operator's Learning and Development needs are met, a true challenge but one which I am relishing and have a very exciting vision for the future of my shift and the department.
How did I get to this point in my career? It started with what some might say as 'not the regular qualification people would think to apply with,' but my BSc Hons Nutrition actually gave me the perfect mix of skills and technical mindset to get a place on Nestlé's Production & Technical Graduate Programme. I started my Nestlé life at York, working in the Quality Assurance team. Initially I was given a couple of projects to do - one of which had huge importance to the factory as it was an allergen labelling review based on new EU legislation that was brought out in 2005. From there I progressed to a Conformance Management role for Milkybar and Microlite, taking responsibility for all things quality within each department from weight control to incident management.
From here I took a slightly different role and moved into Industrial Performance, a project role based out of York but travelling the length and breadth of the country serving Nestlé factories. This job offered a great deal of variety, completing projects that could last anything between 3 weeks and 6 months. To sum the role up, I supported the delivery of a sustainable performance improvement organisation within manufacturing and supply chain by developing high performing people, systems and processes. In short, that means I helped change the culture, processes and environment here in UK Nestlé factories, covering everything from improving waste efficiency to looking at ways to continuously improve people performance.
Having 18 months in the Industrial Performance role, I moved back to the York factory to take up a secondment in the Quality Assurance team, this time working as a Conformance Manager in the Kit Kat 4 and Wafer manufacturing plants, one of the biggest confectionery brands in the UK which at the time was undergoing a revival and a huge drive on the product quality. This made for tough decisions and at times unwanted decisions - such as stopping the plant to improve the product quality. Resolve and belief in the decisions you were making were much needed as it would have been too easy to concede to the production pressures.
I got responsibility from the word go. That's one of the best bits of being a Nestlé graduate: real responsibility, people interaction and variety. And the worst bits? There aren't any!! Seriously, if variety and job satisfaction are what you are after, this is the job for you. No two days are ever the same, and each role brings a real variety of rewards.
My advice for someone wanting to work in the technical department of a food company? Be open-minded, willing to learn and ask questions. Never dismiss an idea and don't be afraid to ask questions - no matter how simple they may seem. Develop a network of people across the business you're in - it will prove invaluable. And, remember: there is always a solution, just not always an obvious one.