Imaginative Teaching Resources & Inspirational Career Ideas from the Chilled Food Industry
Elliot started with Greencore as a Food Technical Graduate in July 2015. He loves his work and, as a Chilled STEM Ambassador, he’s already inspiring others to follow his lead.
What is your degree? Where did you study?
I have a first class BSc Hons degree in Food Science and Technology (with an industrial placement) from Cardiff Metropolitan University.
When do you first become interested in Food Science?
I’ve been interested in food for as long as I can remember. Initially I thought about becoming a chef and took food science and technology and science GCSEs. Then I started seeing Heston Blumenthal on TV and my interest changed into something more science and food related. This influenced my ‘A’ level choices of Home Economics, Biology, Chemistry and Maths. But even then I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do, I just knew it had to be in food.
Did you have a career goal in mind when you applied for University?
I wasn’t really aware of food science as a degree option. When I was choosing my GCSEs the school’s career advisor could only suggest a NVQ in hospitality and catering. I didn’t become aware of food science as a degree until after I chose my ‘A’ levels.
My ‘A’ level grades were not as good as I’d have liked (Bs and Cs). However, I managed to get a place at university where I resolved to work hard to realise my ambition to work in the food industry. I did, and graduated with first class honours. It was only at university that I finally became aware of the options, so I feel fortunate to have got to university and am now determined to make the most of the opportunities on offer.
What made you apply to Greencore after graduation?
There appeared to be endless graduate level jobs on offer, so I began by systematically identifying food manufacturers that offered a food technical graduate scheme – this being the area that I wanted to go into. Greencore’s diverse divisions and opportunity to develop led me to joining them. Further, I liked the development opportunities on offer. I applied for a position that’s on the path to a Technical Manager role – something I aspire to in the long term. The graduate scheme is allowing me to see many different roles within the industry so I can really evaluate my options. But I feel very happy in a food tech position.
With 16 manufacturing sites in the UK, Greencore operates in a number of markets. Our customers include retailers, foodservice providers, manufacturers and petrol forecourts predominantly through customer brands/labels. I remember trying to identify Greencore products in the supermarket – looking for a code or marking! So, compared with branded manufacturers, on the surface it’s not necessarily a well-known food manufacturer, but I’m glad I found it.
What does your job involve? Is it fun, interesting?
Since joining the graduate scheme with Greencore I have worked in a variety of different roles. I started in the Group Audit Team at UK Centre approving all the raw materials (ingredients) that supply our sites in the UK. I then moved into a raw material specification role, requesting information relating to the raw materials that are being supplied, such as what allergens the products contain. I’m now part way through my second year with Greencore and have moved to Greencore Wisbech who are a major manufacturer of premium ready-to-cook meals. I’m working with the Quality Assurance team who work to verify that raw material preparation, production and storage/distribution is complaint with food safety, legal and customer quality standards.
My role has been a great learning curve, and every day brings something new. I’m enjoying working in the food industry and continue to look forward to getting to experience other technical roles.
What are your long term career plans?
I’m still enjoying finding out what’s on offer but I know I’ve made the right decision by starting here. A Technical Manager or Technical Controller would be a great role in the future but I want to get experience of other areas first. I know I’m on the right path to fulfil my ambitions for a career in food.
Friends think my degree choice was just ‘how to cook’ but I know it’s much more than that. From food law to safety to hygiene there are so many areas to learn about. I began to realise this on my degree course but now, working in the industry, the wider picture is obvious and the opportunities available are really exciting.
What has prompted you to want to become a Chilled Ambassador?
This industry is still fairly anonymous so I’m keen to tell everyone about it. I received very little guidance at school but thankfully knew I wanted to work in food. But not everyone has this focus so I want to give suggestions and ideas to spark students’ interest. And because I had a rocky start, with my ‘A’ levels, I can also show that it is possible to turn things around.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about Food Science as a career?
My career choice has definitely been swayed by the fact that there are so many jobs available. Many school friends and contemporaries are still looking for their first graduate position – I secured mine six months before I graduated – what further proof is needed that this is a great career choice?!