My food & drink job: James Barwick, renewable energy tech manager, Wyke Farms

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James Barwick_Wyke Farms

People often think jobs in food & drink are all in production, says James. But there are so many more options available - including cutting-edge roles in sustainability

Name: James Barwick

Age: 23

Job title: Renewable Energy Technical Manager

Company: Wyke Farms, Somerset

Education: BSc (Hons) Environmental Science, Plymouth University


How did you end up working for a dairy company?

For me, the rewards of changing small things are inversely proportional over time

After completing my degree, I knew I wanted a career in an industry where my newly gained knowledge would be utilised. Wyke Farms is a family-run business in Somerset and it stood out as progressive – a rich heritage combined with a modern sustainable approach to farming and manufacture. I didn’t set out to work for a dairy company, but having been aware of Wyke Farms and their investment in renewables and sustainable strategy, I was impressed with the career opportunities available. Wyke is a fantastic business with all the facets that resonated with me – it was a no-brainer!

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

My job involves analysis of energy, water and waste throughout the business to ensure continual improvement against our 100% Green strategy promises. For me, the rewards of changing small things are inversely proportional over time. To be able to play such a role in ensuring Wyke Farms is fit for the future is incredibly rewarding.

Read more: 10 graduates and apprentices share their tips for how to land your dream food job

What does a typical day look like for you?

No two days are the same and I love the varied nature of my job. My central role is to gather and monitor energy and environmental impact across the business. I input energy data into Excel and work with colleagues across the business and sites to ensure all our processes are as efficient as possible. From time to time I host technical visits at our Sustainable Energy Centre so we can knowledge-share with other businesses and groups. I enjoy this part of my role and it is great to spend time outside in the beautiful Somerset countryside.

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

I remember being very nervous, but at the same time excited 

After returning from Uni I knew I wanted to be based in Somerset, so sent my CV to Wyke Farms. I was contacted by Tom Clothier, Production Director and Director of Renewable Energy, to invite me to attend an interview. I remember being very nervous, but at the same time excited at the prospect of potentially joining a business with so many great opportunities. During the interview I was asked questions about my existing knowledge and degree, followed by a tour of the AD Plant and production areas.

What’s the best part about working for a food company?

The best part about working at Wyke Farms is that the company recognises environmental best practice and advocating sustainable working makes good business sense, as low carbon is low cost.

Read more: Tesco poultry technologist Charley Nightingale on working for a big retailer - and managing the fipronil crisis

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

I think there is a misconception that all jobs in the food and drink industry are in production 

The amount of effort needed to get a product on to a consumer’s plate! Everything from: branding, sales, marketing, technical, buying, production, packing, accounting, finance, storing, transportation and engineering. I think there is a misconception that all jobs in the food and drink industry are in production and it would be great if this could be overcome and the career options more widely promoted so that the top talent would be brought into the industry.

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

Go for it! The food and drink industry is constantly evolving. The fast-paced nature of the work means that brands are always looking for fresh new perspectives to make sure they keep their finger on the pulse. It’s incredibly rewarding when you contribute to a project that sees as much success as Wyke’s 100% Green initiative. Wyke Farms is committed to developing their young talent and welcomes individuals who can challenge the status quo!

What’s your ultimate career dream?

To make a significant positive environmental change to a business. At Wyke we live by the motto; ‘If you look after nature, nature will look after you’ – that’s why I feel so at home working for a business which is driving sustainable change.

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

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