My food & drink job: Erin Connolly, NPD technician, Mackle Snacks

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Erin Connolly, Mackle Snacks

Erin first started being interested in working in food during her time with M&S

Name: Erin Connolly

Age: 24

Job title: new product development technician

Company: Mackle Snacks, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland 

Education: BSc Honours Food Quality, Safety and Nutrition with Professional Studies, Queen’s University Belfast

 

What made you decide to go for a job at a food company?

I have always been interested in what goes on from food being manufactured to being on our shelves

For a period of time I worked in Marks & Spencer and I have always been interested in what goes on from food being manufactured to being on our shelves. This led me down the path of wanting to study a degree in food and ultimately this made me decide that the food industry was the place for me. A year’s placement with a food production company during my degree also reinforced my desire to work in the food industry. 

Explain your job to us in a sentence (or two):

I work with customers to create snack products to meet consumer demands and to stay ahead of market trends. My job is to develop the product from ideation through to launch.

Read more: Edinburgh student to become Sainsbury’s CEO for a day

What does a typical day look like for you?

Any given day could involve liasing with customers and suppliers, answering queries, checking pack artwork, assessing the progress of current projects as well as already launched products, attending meetings with my manager and colleagues. During the early stages of development I would be organising and managing trials in the factory on the extruders then taking this product into the NPD kitchen to oil and flavour to meet nutritional and palatable requirements.

Tell us about how you went about applying for your job. What was the process like?

One tricky question that stood out was how would I give criticism

This job was advertised on NI Jobs, so I forwarded my CV to the company and was asked to come in for an interview. This was the only stage in the process. One tricky question that stood out was how would I give criticism. 

What’s the best part about working in food?

Working with customers and suppliers from all around the world. Also, seeing a product that I launched on supermarket shelves.

Read more: 10 food & drink entrepreneurs share their best career tips

And what’s the biggest misconception people have about working in food & drink?

That it is easy or it takes a short amount of time for new products/flavours to be developed, when in fact it can take months. 

What advice would you give to other young people looking to get into the food & drink industry?

Ask as many questions as possible from people in all departments because it is a team effort and you never know when this information may be valuable

If possible try and get some experience in the area you are interested in and when you are there ask as many questions as possible from people in all departments because it is a team effort and you never know when this information may be valuable. 

What’s your ultimate career dream?

Gain experience over time, continue to launch new products and have a position in management. 

Interested in finding out more about food & drink careers? Check out The Grocer Jobs for the latest vacancies

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