Name: Emma Wright

Age: 26

Job title: Apprentice technical operator

Company & location: Premier Foods, Worksop

Education: Valley Comprehensive School

Why did you decide to go for a career in food? I have always been curious about the food supply chain and the journey a product takes from production to being stocked in the supermarket, it fascinates me. The food and drink industry is also the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, so I knew there would always be a range of diverse and exciting job opportunities available. I started my career journey with Premier Foods because the company’s solid reputation stood out to me, and I thought it would be a great place to begin exploring and developing my passion for the food industry.

Explain your job to us in a sentence (or two): I am an apprentice technical operator, working on Premier Foods’ Oxo Cube production lines. Day to day, I operate our machinery to form the cubes and help with packaging them, as well as carrying out quality checks to ensure every product is consumer-ready.

What does a typical day look like for you? At Premier Foods, no two days are ever the same which is why I enjoy my role so much. However, food safety is paramount at the factory, so a typical day always includes a variety of quality control checks at different points of the production process. Myself and the team all work together to make sure every pack of Oxo cubes is made to the correct standard, and is ready for retailers. Another important element of my role is problem solving. For example, if a minor machine issue occurs, everyone is on-hand to ensure it can be fixed so the production line continues to run smoothly. This consistent support from my colleagues is something I’ve really valued throughout my apprenticeship, and it has empowered me to continue building on my knowledge and developing my skills.

Tell us how you went about applying for your job. After submitting an online application, I was invited to complete some tests, including maths and English. Once I found out I was successful, I took part in an assessment centre – this consisted of a values-based interview, a group activity, a presentation on my greatest passion to a panel of HR and production colleagues, and a practical mechanical/dexterity exercise.

“I started my career journey with Premier Foods because the company’s solid reputation stood out to me”

What’s the best part about working for a food company? Personally, I love the variety my role gives me. Everyday is different, and I know I am constantly evolving and honing my skill set. What’s more, being involved in the physical creation of new products and seeing them on the shelves gives me a real sense of satisfaction, since I know the hard work that has gone into bringing them to life for customers. Being part of the Premier Foods team has helped me to kickstart my industry journey, and I feel proud that I work for a company which provides the highest-quality products for everyone to enjoy.

And what’s the biggest misconception people have about working in food & drink? Often, young people aren’t aware of the breadth of opportunities available to them in the industry. As well as the areas of supply chain and production that I am involved in, Premier Foods offers a wide range of other apprenticeships, in fields such as food technology, engineering, and HR learning and development. Each of these different paths can teach you skills that go beyond the sector, and provide the building blocks for success in any future role. There’s something for everyone in the food industry, and I would encourage other young people to take the plunge and see where a career in it can take them.

What advice would you give to other young people looking to get into the food & drink industry? My main piece of advice is to do your research. Whether that’s looking for a company that promotes the same values that you hold, or finding a role most suited to your interests, research is paramount to ensure you’re starting out in the best position possible. I began my journey with Premier Foods because of how respected the company was and after researching the role and undergoing the interview process, I knew it was the right fit for me. Young people looking to follow a similar path should not underestimate the power of doing your research or the opportunities available in the industry – there’s a role perfect for everyone to thrive.

What’s your ultimate career dream? Currently, I’m really enjoying my role and I feel settled within the company. Only time will tell where the future takes me, but for now, I want to continue my progression with Premier Foods and hopefully take on a management role in the future.

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