Imaginative Teaching Resources & Inspirational Career Ideas from the Chilled Food Industry
Stephen Pym is on the Graduate Management Trainee Programme (Technical) at Moy Park. The company produces a range of fresh, ready-to-cook, coated and ready-to-eat poultry products for major retailers and large food service customer across the UK, Ireland and Continental Europe. He joined in August 2018.
His original career aspirations, to be a chef, could have taken him in a different direction but he’s more than happy with the course he’s currently following.
What is your degree? Where did you study?
I have a BSc in Food Science and Engineering from Teesside University.
When do you first become interested in Food Science?
I’ve always had an interest in food and baking. But, when I was 14 or 15, my form tutor’s daughter took Food Science at university and my interest was sparked. Without that knowledge I would’ve been unsure where to go.
I took Maths, Physics and Economics ‘A’ levels and ‘AS’ Chemistry.
Did you have a career goal in mind when you applied for University?
While I like cooking, my interest is definitely in the science of food, and also the engineering side and process development. There is also a shortage of engineers in the food sector.
I learned about the various job opportunities from my form tutor and was also inspired by a friend’s father who works for Tate and Lyle. As a boy I remember being very impressed by his company BMW!
What made you apply to Moy Park after graduation?
The company has a great reputation and its graduate scheme is very good. They invest in their staff to nurture their talent.
On mainland UK we mainly supply to supermarkets as their own brands, and therefore are largely unknown, in Northern Ireland, however, it’s a much more recognised brand.
What does your job involve? Is it fun, interesting?
The scheme gives me an opportunity to see the different sites and experience the different aspects of the company. I’ll be moving every 6 months which gives me the chance to find out exactly where my interests might lie. I am also working on real projects which will make a difference to the company. For example, one focus has been on improving the safety and quality of products, including the training of staff and working with x-ray equipment.
What’s the best bit so far?
I’m enjoying seeing all elements of the production process and I’ve really enjoyed a project at our Ashbourne site with an aim to improve one of the site’s Key Performance Indicators. This involved having contact across all the production processes – from the shop floor to the labs –. It was really good to work on and see the interaction between the technical team and production and the great interest there was in this topic. The end result was 5,000 words from me and a new approach to working put in place at the site.
We also have a mentor system . My mentor is Head of Food Safety and Compliance – he went through the graduate scheme around 20 years ago, so shows the value of the scheme. It also helps to show how important the graduates are to the company. In the technical department the graduates get together every 6 months to present to the senior technical team. It’s really good that there is such a clear link between graduates and the senior members of the team!
It’s more or less what I’d anticipated as I’d been given lots of information at the interview stage. I love the diversity – and is definitely broadening my experience.
What are your long term career plans?
The graduate scheme is two years and the prospects are good for me to stay on with the company after that. I would be looking for a Quality Manager role within Moy Park as I have particularly enjoyed working on a project in that area.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about Food Science as a career?
Don’t be too restricted by your ‘A’ levels. Keep your options open.
Go to careers fairs and if possible get yourself on a Food Science Summer School. I attended one at the University of Nottingham in 2012 which was excellent. Again this was thanks to my form tutor. I also met the CFA’s Kaarin Goodburn at the school and got some interesting insights from her.
Talk to as many people as possible – you never know where a lead might take you. I’ve found people to be helpful and supportive, it’s great to be part of a team who are happy to share knowledge and invest time in me.